In most cases, the above realization is grounds for dismissal or, at the very least, significant scorn. But having spent the majority of my career working on behalf of b2b companies, that statement Is an accurate If not welcome one.
When you help to shape the marketing efforts of a car brand or a fashion label or a microbrew, it's natural to default to your own personal inclinations, considering you are oftentimes a consumer of those products.
Not going to happen much when you're marketing the virtues of a military spec ceramic capacitor or a communications network operations support solution. When was the last time you ponied up for a shiny new manufacturing scheduling software system?
You've heard the old adage that one knows just enough about something to be dangerous? I would argue the opposite: I get to know just about enough to be really effective.
The advantage here is respect. And objectivity.
Respect in understanding that as neither an Oral Surgeon, Electrical Engineer or a Software Developer, I can never possibly know as much about the specifics of our clients' highly complex products and services without possessing their advanced years of education, specialized training and professional accomplishments.
How often have I been asked, ‘How much experience do you have in our area?’ This is a valid question to gauge ones' level of comfort with the specific industry, sales channels, buying process, etc. Taking it further, many clients prefer the added reassurance that you've worked with other companies very similar to them. In their eyes, this mitigates risk.
Admittedly, we have lost some business opportunities because we didn't meet the above criterion. But we have had great success with a number of clients who appreciate our experience and methodology in positioning and marketing complex products and services – independent of prior immersion in their world.
In fact, they welcome the idea that we didn't work for companies so similar to theirs. They were seeking fresh perspectives from the outside. They wanted to avoid the natural tendency to default to the comfort of having done this all before. Their business mission demanded entirely new strategies and tactics delivered by a group that had no biases.
This is where objectivity comes in.
In the end, our biggest value may just be the fact that we are not that close to the subjects for whom we work.
Heresy? Not exactly.
We relish the idea that we will most likely never buy what we help sell.
I'll take that microbrew now.
- John Athorn