At the start of the year I caught up for a coffee with a lovely bloke, let’s call him Bob, who had inquired a full calendar year earlier about getting some “content stuff sorted” for his business.
A year later, he’d finally been able to make the time to get together for a chat.
I certainly don’t begrudge Bob that year of waiting – he’d been a busy guy and quite frankly, his business was now in a far better place to actually afford working with an agency.
His company, a small but rapidly growing security business, had started as a two-man band but had bloomed to about 20 staff across three states in the past 12 months. Epically good.
He shared his story of how the company had been growing through some tough but satisfying wins, and how they had built systems to smooth out the onerous task of managing the truly horrifying amount of tender documents thrown their way.
But you could almost feel the storm clouds gather and the dark mark hit the sky as Bob started to talk about marketing.
It was at this point when he said the one thing that truly stood out.
“I’m sick of having no starting stake in every job we pitch out there. We need to stop commiting random acts of business and build a brand that puts our foot in the door before we even start.”
Random acts of business.
Incredible stuff. And he’s dead right. Be like Bob.
If you look to some of the most creative brands – especially the smaller brands that do it well – working on a personality, a tone of voice, a design language that kicks arse, and all of the great customer journey content that goes along with it, you’ll find businesses whose established systems fire far more efficiently and lucratively than those without.
Look to this insanely good case study about the power of creativity to see it in action on a large scale. Random doesn’t get a word in.
But when I churn that statement around in my terrible looking head a bit, the flip side that emerges is more about one question: What are you letting your marketers and creative partners do that deserves to be remembered?
As I assume it says word for word in the Bible, “One cannot survive on an identical product offering to your competitors and great relationships and bread alone.” Or something.
(Look I’ve never read the book and that sounds like an Israel Folau-level interpretation so let’s move on.)
That also brings me to another memory I have seared into my brain – the time a room full of C-suite folk collectively rolled their eyes so hard the building nearly fell down when I asked them if they knew how their brands made their customers feel.
If you rolled your eyes just then as well, it’s a sure-fire sign you need to go away and ask your customers that question, you Type A personality legend you.
Why are you still reading?
For those still with us, the data is clear. The businesses with established systems to create and distribute their products achieve more good things when outstanding strategic and creative work – such as amazing brand positioning, or great brand design language, or ads, or content – is in play to drive them.
And it’s vital the right people are doing it (marketers doing the research and positioning; creative people briefed properly and doing the creative-ing) to make it memorable.
See the aforementioned case study for the numbers.
So what is your brand doing that deserves to be remembered? Or more to the point, how are you saying it?
For B2B businesses that have nailed their positioning, building a brand identity and tone of voice that grabs your audience, makes them feel something and even makes them want to spend more time with you is the top-shelf, smooth, no-hangover stuff.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying nailing an insanely good tone of voice for B2B companies can be the capstone that finally makes your marketing and sales fire.
Is your brand memorable to that poor bastard in a room who’s assessing his 504th identical tender document for the day before he goes home to bed and dreams of an endless pile of tender documents that mutate into giant paper monsters that chase him through his dreams forever and ever?
Or to that huge audience of potential customers at a trade show who are most definitely there for the grog and hugs at the afterparty? (Sponsor the drinks, people. I say it every time.)
The memorable things you’ve made or said (brand, tone of voice) are the things that will differentiate you, make your relationships stronger, supercharge your company’s system, and may even let you charge more for your – let’s face it – basically identical product. Lorna Jane, anyone?
What are the things that make you worthy of being remembered?
For what it’s worth I’m still waiting for that second coffee, but I’m almost certain Bob’s been busy wiping out his random acts of business.