Archive for business

How to…speculatively build B2B relationships

Posted in brand, creativity, marketing strategy, social media, wisdom with tags , , , , , , on June 13, 2010 by wisdomlondon

Speculative B2B Rel Building

My business is relatively new and until six months ago I hadn’t sold anything before (unless you count the success of a short-lived jam-making empire when I was 15*), so it’s interesting when people ask me how I get new clients, and how we identify who we want to work with.

*I blame rural living unreservedly.

Well the answer is, there’s no point in working for businesses or people you don’t believe in – so why not start by seeking out the ones you really love? Business development is, of course, a mixture of reactive and proactive activity but when it comes to pro-active, I think Wisdom London is pretty good. But we can all be a little reticent about building a new relationship from scratch.   We say speculative does not have to be scary.  Approach it as an exciting adventure. Here’s how:

1. Start with the ‘ideal world’ scenario

Which organisations, institutions, brand, people would you like to work for? Why them?  What is it about them that makes them so attractive to you? Note – this is nothing to do with what you think they will spend!  This is all about passion for what they do, and spotting where you fit into that. Which leads us to…

2. Seek out the common ground (round 1)

Comparing notes. The most basic of techniques used by kids and adults globally – business is no exception.  Common ground is our best friend here.  At a corporate or cultural level, what does your business and the other (let’s call them “the speculee”) have in common? From the banal (same street) to the ethical (support the same charitable cause) it all counts.

3. Do your research

Now find out some more about them – and challenge all that you think you know. Laziness shows. Use different information sources, be current: What is happening to that organization, right now? Talk to people, see what they know about your chosen one, and if they don’t know much, that’s information too (maybe in time, you can help the speculee with that).  Ask what people think of the organization in question. Ask why that is. Because before you make your approach you need to…

4. Have some bright ideas

There’s very little point in making a speculative approach to the client of your dreams and simply giving them a shopping list of what you can do.  It will not fire their imagination.  But to approach them and bring with you an idea, hypothetical or otherwise, of what you could do for them and how it could work is value-adding.  And you need to start adding value from the go-get.  Don’t be shy (or mean) with your creativity – even the most far-fetched of ideas can have legs – because it’s simply showing what you have to offer in the best possible way: Creativity, energy, passion, a grasp of the concept of possibility. All wrapped up in an idea.

Now, here comes Groundhog Day…

5. Seek out the common ground (round 2)

So you know what you have in common organizationally.  What about the actual people you could connect with? Think some more about common ground, on a personal level.  Do you know anyone in the organization, past or present? Do you have clients, suppliers or collaborators in common? Here’s where social media comes into its own: The beauty of social media is that we can access a ready stream of data on a given organization or individual, that’s generally on a pretty human level (and if it’s not, they’re not doing it right!  another area you may be able to help with…) so should give you – over time – a feel for how they work, what they are passionate about and what’s important in their lives (and by that I mean their human lives).

And then tailor your approach meaningfully, based on what you now know.

6. Connect!

There are a million and one ways that you can make the first move, but as with dating, one maxim applies: Be yourself.

If you are excited by the speculee’s business or product – say so. If you liked (or didn’t like) they way they did something – say so. If you don’t understand why they are not in a particular market – ask. You get the idea…be interested, curious, involved. The idea here is to connect, exchange ideas, interact, draw them into your world, respond, make them aware that you exist.  A few ways to do it (that work!):

  • Comment on their blog, ask questions
  • Blog about them – use them as an example to illustrate a point, or even as an open letter
  • If you do that, make them aware of it through other channels too
  • Connect via Twitter / FB – follow, comment, direct relevant information to them
  • Strike up a debate, ascertain commonalities (or otherwise) in your viewpoints
  • Bring them good ideas, suggestions, information that may interest them….in other words, value

Most of all, be brave. Don’t just aspire to work with a brand, do your most to put the right conditions in place for it to happen. Accept that it will be a slow burn, that the relationship must grow first, and that your services may not be right at this exact time. And also know when to give up – a few places you don’t want to be are flogging the proverbial dead horse or erm, cyberstalking.

Happy speculating – one of the joys of doing business.  You never know where you’ll end up.

Kate Spiers is the founder of Wisdom London. She is passionate about joining up the dots, meeting amazing people and building sustainable business relationships that are based on common ground and mutual value.  She is less passionate about jam these days, though.  Other fish to fry.


When #massivefail = opportunity

Posted in brand, marketing strategy, social media with tags , , , , , , , on April 19, 2010 by wisdomlondon

When disaster strikes, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to offer the customer service of a lifetime

The past week has shown quite unequivocally that the unexpected really can happen, in some cases turning our lives upside down, or at least giving them a good shake-up for a while. Who would’ve thought, this time last week, that European airspace would be all but shut down for a week and maybe longer?

It’s moments like this is when marketers and communicators are really tested – when the unexpected happens, how do we turn failure into opportunity?

The business of service

I’ve been amazed that some obvious players don’t seem to have embraced the opportunity fully. For example, after last December’s huge PR disaster in the wake of the channel tunnel disruption, Eurostar have a golden opportunity to show travellers that they can pull out all the stops when disaster happens and – vitally – start to reel positive perceptions back in again. True, they’ve done their job by transporting thousands of travellers to and from the continent with extra trains. But they’re not just in the business of travel, they are also in the business of service. So if they can’t transport people (and currently the message is, if you don’t have a ticket don’t even bother turning up) can they still serve them? With information, advice, the sense of going the extra mile when people most need them?

Phone operators – great for business that millions of your customers are stranded and hugely reliant on their phones to keep in touch with business and home. So when they most need you, what else can you offer your customers? Free SMS? Free data? Goodwill goes a long way.

Payback time for loyal customers?

It’s the brands that we rely on day-to-day, with which we feel most closely aligned, who are surely best placed to reinforce that intimacy right now – by saying to customers, you’re stuck wherever you are, but we can help you make contact, find information or a desk so you can keep working, we can entertain  you, even feed you or keep you stocked up with the essentials while you’re away from home.

Brands: these things may not be part of your core business, but surely service is?

As social media has shown clearly in the past week, online communities are a lifeline for sharing information, particularly when it can’t be found from official sources. It’s also where people are most likely to vent or praise – so service providers, take note. Or better still, take action.

Kate Spiers is CEO of Wisdom London

Ladies, we salute you!

Posted in creativity, wisdom with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2010 by wisdomlondon

Happy International Women’s Day. And what better way to mark the occasion than to salute the women who inspire, innovate and genuinely contribute to the business of marketing, media and communications. Here are my heroes of the day:

Joanna Shields and Elisabeth Murdoch

Watch out. Joanna and Elisabeth have joined forces and are on a mission.  Their venture, under Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine umbrella, sets out to produce content across online and offline platforms, with a focus on social engagement.  During Joanna’s time heading Bebo (and eventually engineering the sale of it to AOL for $850 million) she showed the world that she not only had her finger firmly on the pulse of social media’s relevance to content production (think Kate Modern) but that she could bring business value from it too.  Always engaging, completely relevant and super-smart, she’s a hero. And that, combined with the drive, ambition and media credentials of Elisabeth Murdoch, will be exciting to follow.

Arianna Huffington

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, one of the most powerful online media brands – bringing news and blogging together, and now one of the most linked-to news sites.  Arianna has revolutionised news, especially the way in which US political issues are covered. The Huff Post is now 5 years old and that that’s a long time in the online world. Then, and now, it provides something pretty great: quality content, speed to report, opinion and  – most vitally – serious stuff delivered with a light touch, making it truly accessible and engaging. Arianna herself is the visionary who clearly understands what we want from online news content.  With an incredible business network, sharp intellect and obvious drive, she’s a powerhouse.

Jane Bown

Photographer extraordinaire. Jane has provided The Observer with quite incredible black and white photography since 1949 and continues to delight with her ability to tell a story with a captured moment. Her skill is quite simply extraordinary: no gimmicks, no effects – just Jane and her 40-year-old camera creating something honest and enduring. Photography is a vital part of communications, helping us tell a story, evoke and illustrate. For me, there’s none better than Jane Bown.

Kathryn Bigelow

Hot on the heels of her Best Director (first woman ever, in 82 years!) Oscar win, Kathryn deserves a mention. In directing The Hurt Locker to Oscar and box-office success, she’s a woman who reigns supreme in a male-dominated oeuvre. Point Break excepted, she’s a star.

Who’s inspiring you today?

Related Links

Thought Leadership: The Real Deal

Posted in thought leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by wisdomlondon

Thought Leadership is a pretty well-used phrase these days and I fear its true meaning may be getting a little lost. Content alone does not equal thought leadership and many businesses would do well to remind themselves of what makes their content genuinely thought-leading.

I’m a big believer in the power of well-conceived and brilliantly orchestrated thought leadership. For the corporate world especially, it’s an excellent way of sharing collective wisdom, making superstars of their subject matter experts, and wrapping value and credibility around their brands.

But it’s no easy task. For an organisation to maintain a coherent message and gather momentum in the thought leadership stakes, they need a plan. What they want to say, when, by whom and how. And that should, of course, reflect the genuine wants, needs and interests of their target audience.

That’s not to say organisations should play lip-service: thought leadership should inform but also provoke and encourage debate. It’s fine to ask questions, even if you can’t give a definitive answer to them yet – the potential for dialogue is key. Great thought leadership inspires, generates ideas and develops a concept further.

What’s the difference? Thought Leadership v. Content

Thought Leadership IS:

  • A blend of knowledge, wisdom, ideas and interpretation
  • A different take on a subject – suggests new perspectives
  • An invitation for discussion
  • Attached to a person or people – it’s a human activity, not a ‘corporate’ one
  • Being curious, thought provoking and considered
  • Accessible, agile and current

Thought Leadership IS NOT:

  • …necessarily directed from the top
  • Unsynthesised facts and figures
  • A one-way street: it’s a basis for discussion and sharing
  • A sales pitch, disguised thinly or otherwise

I hope that the above might serve as a useful checklist for thought leadership development.  But that’s just the start.  Once you’ve got something thought-leading to say, make sure you say it!

Make the most of the channels available – thought leadership can and does exist on micro-blogging platforms as well as on the speaker podium and in print. Share the best of your thought-leading ideas with your clients by bringing them together in a roundtable debate. Integrate it in your media relations planning. Make sure you have passionate and articulate thought leaders ready and willing to enter into the debate.

Take your wisdom to a new level by applying about some thought leadership rigour – the business world will be a richer place for it.

Related link:

Kate Spiers is founder and director of Wisdom London.  (And a thought leadership freak.)