Does this remind you of your B2B Marcom program? Hope not.
Most of us are old enough to remember the days when Marcom's role was to pose and proclaim. Like the Great and Powerful Oz, our communications were one-way and full of bluster. In those days, a customer would never, "presume to criticize The Great Oz," or so we believed.
The practice was very simple, and wrong:
- businesses talked, customers listened and accepted ("ungrateful creatures")
- businesses made the rules, customers obeyed ("think yourselves lucky that I am giving you audience")
By now we all know that Toto has made his move, and we have all seen, "that man behind the curtain." Or have we?
One thing is for sure, "The Great and Powerful Oz has spoken." I believe he still is speaking today, through outdated B2B Marcom strategies and concepts such as:
- websites that don't allow conversation
- companies that present slick "face" people while hiding their skilled staff in back offices, factories, and labs
- scripted sales pitches that know exactly where they are going, regardless of the customers' goals
- PowerPoint presentations that are overflowing with dazzling features, leaving no time for, or interest in, engaging the audience
- stock photography that depicts your organization and staff as something larger than life
- language that speaks above the customer, not to them
- a distanced attitude that inhibits personalities from shining through
- style guides that inhibit your staff from warmly engaging with their customers
Notice that the Great and Powerful Oz is dealing from a position of weakness and fear. He barks and howls. He hides behind noise, flames, and darkness. He demands power - and receives it due to intimidation (until the truth is known). Notice that nothing much of true progress is actually made under such an engagement.
Then, notice that, when the G&PO finally becomes human and authentic, and when he engages his audience in an honest and warm fashion, real change occurs. True win:win situations then develop.
Finally, review YOUR arsenal of B2B Marcom tactics and practices and see if you still possess a few Great and Powerful techniques. Is your company acting like the Great and Powerful Oz? Are you "a humbug?", "a very bad man?" Honestly assess the efficacy of your program and ask yourself if you are delivering meaningful results. Add to that the knowledge that there are millions of Totos scampering around, pulling back curtains and revealing truths. Is your curtain next?
CONCLUSION: LEAD with "the man behind the curtain". Chances are "he" is smart, caring, and well-qualified. Cut through all the drama and present him directly to the customer, imperfections and all. Like Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion, your customers will see beyond the surface and zero in on the abilities and value that are available. This will pave the way for more than transactions - it will enable relationships, commitments, and preferences.
Let me know what you think.