The Necessary Mind-Shift

January 23, 2010

Still looking at your business content exclusively through the framework of your current products and services?  That’s fine, there are a lot of B2B companies whose artifacts need updating, freshening, recasting, coordinating.

Are you wondering if the relevance of so much of the “new” media, social media, anything-with-anyone-anywhere media is  primarily about how to incrementally improve your artifacts, publish them less expensively,  distribute them more broadly?  How’s this approach working for  you?

The  emerging truth is that turning a sales slick into a downloadable pdf isn’t much of a strategy.  It has become expected.  Likewise turning your customer service manual into a wiki…and enabling customers to text-message you when they have a problem.  And that tide of expectation continues  to rise.

How  do you understand what’s happening to your  business? So you can reorient your resources and allocate them toward what’s working best?

You’re being “factored” into smaller pieces;  you”re being “granularized;”  your piece-parts are becoming visible.  As universal connectivity sinks deeper into our consciousness, the way value is defined, shopped, procured, and supported is reshaping ever more established habits.

B2B companies are now well into this tipping point zone and in need of an update to how they understand and organize what they sell.

To put it bluntly, no one sells products or services anymore.

Everyone sells expertise. And expertise is kept fresh and relevant throgh experience.  And selling anything requires that you understand the needs of those to whom you offer your value. Many of the social tools that baffle you are today’s machinery of dialog.  And the way you participate is not to package your expertise into finalized products that you hawk, but to undertake useful goals, invite commentary on the attributes of how you plan to package your expertise, and share in-progress milestones with the group.

And so, the ways you used to acquire experience and understanding of what your customers needed was periodic research and occasional wandering around visiting some of  the bigger ones.  Now there are more tools, tools your audiences are using more and more.  Tools for talking directly with your customers, whoever you define them to be.

Think of it as a funnel

January 21, 2010

Content isn’t just empty, irrelevant material you have licensed from some general resource, it is the essence of the business you do.  Now, more than ever, the best content is related, from strategic to tactical and in between.  The ideas in this content really form a funnel, with each “level” nested within the larger ideas above it.  At every stage, the guiding principle is value, how to highlight it, how to make it relevant, how to make it accessible, how to give prospects a taste of it so they will know that yours is genuine and trustable and want more.  Not every component of your content has to repeat the corporate mission statement, but they should all show a strong family resemblance to other content your audience may have seen about you.  Conceptual consistency, not word tricks.  The path to achieving it is to have your copy created by communicators who have managed business functions, who have an instinct for words-that-persuade, words-that-motivate, words-that-(ultimately)-drive-numbers.

Content? Why “Content?”…

We know, we hate the term too. Somehow any term that includes everything from Shakespeare to the latest tweet seems wrong. But it has become a useful term nonetheless.
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“But, We’ve Got An Agency That Does That”

Most B2B companies have an "agency of record" that produces a lot of fantastic work. Through long experience, they function almost as internal departments. We like agencies, a portion of our business writing work comes from agencies. But a good deal of it doesn't.
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…Because If You Can’t Tell It, You Can’t Sell It

Just what IS your story now? Anything different from the last time you developed your "essential materials," (content)? Customers behaving any differently? Your points of competitive strength evolved any? Has the marketplace gotten any simpler?
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More Value from Essential Resources

Current economic times may have forced you to shrink your headcount, saying goodbye to people who have been with you for years. We can't compensate for the hurt of that, nothing can. What we CAN do, however,
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Robert G. Hamilton
Managing Partner
P. O. Box 888
Oak Park, Illinois 60303

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