One of my favorite marketing bloggers, Rohit Barghava, has a new book called Personality Not Included. As part of his book launch he offered to answer 50 five-question interviews from people with blogs. I could not resist the opportunity, so I submitted my top five questions, and here are his answers!
- Do B-to-B companies need to have personalities?
This is a really important question - they definitely do need to have a personality because so much of BtoB sales are relationship based. When you look at the long lead times for sales and the fact that word of mouth is so important, it becomes clear that personality applies to BtoB businesses at least as much as BtoC brands.
- How do you make sure your newfound company/brand personality doesn't bite you in the butt?
The best way to do this is to make sure that you are claiming an "ownable space" as I called it in the book that is appropriate. For example, focusing on the professionalism of your employees won' t work if you cannot live up to this promise.
- How do you measure the effectiveness of building authenticity back into the company brand?
One of the key measures that works for this is the power of your word of mouth and referral business. This is the area where authenticity can make the biggest impact because essentially what you are focusing on is getting your customers to tell your story for you.
- Often passionate customers are also passionate detractors. How do you harness their energy in a positive way?
This is a relatively easy question to answer, but not as easy to actually do. The best way to harness their energy is by LISTENING to them and actually acting on the points that they are frustrated about. Your passionate customers may absolutely be the most demanding, but wouldn't you far rather have them interacting with you and asking for more than defecting or not communicating with you? This dialogue is vital and the best way to take advantage of it is by having a good system to react to what you hear.
- Will taking an authentic approach to marketing (one with personality) win the support and or admiration of our critics in sales? :-)
Taking an authentic approach absolutely has the power to win over a critic and turn them into a customer. There is a technique I share in the book called "Fallibility Marketing," which is all about how to use the moments when you screw up as opportunities to win over new customers and keep existing ones. Based on some of your questions, I think it's a section you'll find particularly interesting.