Alive and Amplified Episode 1
Musings from the B2B marketing moshpit
July 5, 2017
Welcome to a regular blog post with a difference. It’s not my definitive take on anything in particular. I’m not setting out to provide you with the sweeping solution to a problem. I’m not laying out a provocative opinion to stir things up. I’m not crafting something carefully on-message. Instead, I wanted to share the strange grab-bag of things floating around my B2B marketing consciousness at the moment: the internal monologue that shows I’m alive, edited down to the bits most worth amplifying.
I hope it’s helpful. I hope you’ll find some things in here to send your own internal narrative spinning off in an interesting direction. I hope you find a link or two to an app or a Spotify track that you’ll appreciate. If not – don’t worry. There will be more of these thoughts along in a fortnight’s time:
Marketing myths and Motörhead vibes at B2B Ignite
Last week was my second year speaking at B2B Ignite, the annual conference hosted by www.b2bmarketing.net. It’s an event with real energy – one that reminds an Accidental Keynote Speaker like me why doing what I do can be such an adrenaline rush. I wish we’d had a slightly bigger room for my session. It was packed out, standing room only, and it was hot. Combine that with an audience that were really switched on and it kept reminding me of a classic early Motörhead gig. Of course Lemmy spent a bit less time talking about goldfish attention span myths and the need to differentiate yourself through quality long-form content – but you get the picture.
The LinkedIn booth was rocking too – and we were all over the event hashtag on Twitter, which was great. If you missed B2B Ignite, there are some great summaries now being posted online: a slick digital flickbook from Turtl and a nice round-up from Giles Shorthouse. You can also see my full presentation Innovation in Content Marketing starts with a Reality Check on Slideshare now.
Shout out to Paul Hewerdine
You know you landed things right when people start taking on the issues you discussed after the session is over. Paul Hewerdine wrote a really smart, thoughtful post (with a great title) about the long form vs short form content debate that I covered in my B2B Ignite session. It’s great when people care enough about an issue to challenge the points that you made. If you like his post, why not hit the share button yourself? Contrary to what he says, it’s worth it. Although, in my view, this post would be generating a lot more traction if it were longer!
The uplifting power of a good rant
Speaking of great titles, I absolutely loved this post on Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog. It’s political, it comes from a particular cultural place – and it certainly won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. What it brought home to me though, is just how immensely energising it can be to let rip once in a while. You can almost sense Chuck speeding up as he types. He’s right about the power of channeling angst about the world into trying to do whatever it is that you do, as creatively and passionately as possible. Whether you agree with him about how dumb the planet is at the moment or not, there’s some lightning worth bottling in there.
What type of leader do you really want to be?
As a B2B marketer, it’s difficult to dodge posts about leadership. They hurry in at you from various blogs that seem to specialise in this type of thing. Every now and then though, you come across one that actually makes you pause and think. This post from Rick Wartzman on Forbes did just that – it got me pondering how I actually fit into organisations and, just as importantly, what type of leader I would want to be.
Rick is channeling the wisdom of late, great management consultant Peter Drucker, and contrasting it with a new book from Harvard Business School organizational psychology professor Gautam Mukunda. Both agree on the importance of outsiders, ‘unfiltered leaders’ who are able to resist what everybody thinks they know and see things differently. These leaders can become truly indispensible at a given moment in time. However, that moment in time can be fleeting. There are also plenty of leaders (Mukunda uses the example of Jack Welch) who do what lots of other people could probably do in their circumstances.
All of which begs the question – do you want to be the leader who can transform things in times of crisis by speaking truth to the status quo? Or the one with a following wind behind who can manage sustainably over the longer term? It’s yet more evidence that there is no single blueprint for effective leadership.
How not to solve your culture problems
In the same way, there’s definitely no single blueprint for building an effective working culture. I really enjoyed Vanessa Paech’s post taking aim at companies that install ping pong tables and expect them to make their organisation more collaborative and creative. It’s a classic mistake: confusing the symptoms of a particular working culture with the real drivers of it. I can’t help contrasting those organisations that simply import me-too lifestyle furniture with LinkedIn. This is a business that has a unique and empowering culture. I find that it gives the people who work here a real sense of mission and belonging. And it comes about, not through perks, but through a careful balance of values and responsibilities – both on the part of individuals and the part of the organisation. Don’t get me wrong – there’s great work-life balance here too. But it’s all rooted in a sense of what we’ve come together to do that starts with training and induction and runs all the way through your time with the business. That’s the really interesting and important stuff when it comes to building a workplace culture.
Book of the moment: Barking up the Wrong Tree
I’m loving Barking up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker. It’s that rare and valuable type of self-improvement book that aims to inform its audience rather than selling them a one-size-fits-all solution. Well worth dipping into.
App worth amplifying: Blinkist
An app that proves the value of subscription-based apps. Blinkist is a brilliant tool for helping you to glean the key insights from books as they come out – and helping you decide which are worth reading in full.
Playlist of the fortnight:
As a concert photographer during my spare time, I live and breathe live music. My Spotify playlist tends to be built around shows I’ve been to over the last few weeks. At the moment, I’m navigating life to the sound of Tom Chaplin, ELO, Cheap Trick, Bash & Pop and Spoon.
That's the best bits of my internal B2B marketing monologue for this fortnight – I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you found something useful in here. I’ll be back with more things worth amplifying next week.