Every passing day further convinces me of one single thing: Every marketing specialist should come to their job through the ivory halls of journalism. And if you're marketing for B2B companies, make that the Formica halls of trade publishing.
I say this because as journalist, you spend six days a week listening to the problems of regular people (consumers), and advertisers (suppliers). When you go into B2B and trade publishing, the connection is laid bare: You spend every day looking for a common ground to serve your two audience groups: the buyer (reader), and the seller (advertiser). Publish brainless press releases, and your readers disappear like yesterday's stock gains. And when they go, the advertisers go too. The perfect compromise is compelling content that helps a reader improve their lives by introducing them to valuable services and products, and not wasting their time.
Prepare yourself for an awakening, but this simple statement is the core tenant of successful B2B marketing. Sure, atgood writer can brew up some smoke and position a mirror so that a left-handed buggy whip is the next iPod, but it won't last. At the same time, inept (or more often, non-existent, or tepid) marketing can leave a good product to wander through the industrial wilderness. The point to marketers is that, while you don't design a product, you sure can help designers to understand their customers better. And you better be able to describe to a customer how a widget is going to make their life, job, etc., better, or you're wasting everyone's time. How can you accomplish these two goals if you don't have a thorough understanding of how your customers do their jobs? The pressures they have every day? And the trends, regulations, and contexts impacting their companies?
Good journalists know their audience because they're forced to walk around in their shoes, experience their lives and workplaces, and suffer their defeats while enjoying their victories, albeit from a distance.
This morning, I spent the usual few hours reading marketing journals, blogs, discussion group posts, PRSA and IABC newsletters and "as usual" they focused on two main topics.
1. The continuing craze with "social networks," (YouBook, FaceTube, you know who you are.)
2. Content is king.
To me, and to most of the people I speak with serving small and medium B2B companies, social media are interesting new channels to disseminate information, but not likely to gain significant company resources unless the target industry is in IT, or some other technical industry where the majority of users are digital aficionados. Plant engineers and electricians don't have the time, or inclination. The X and Y generations, yes; retiring baby boomers, no.
As to #2, my best friend and ally: CONTENT. Well, content is king. It doesn't matter if you distribute the content via Twitter, video, hard copy press release, or carrier pigeon, if the story doesn't address the audiences concerns through understanding their lives and helping to make them better, then you and your client are wasting time and money. Again, a good journalist intuitively knows this.