How to be Enchanting: Top 3 Tips from Guy Kawasaki

July 17, 2012

If ever there were a man who practices what he preaches, it would be Guy Kawasaki. I was thrilled to experience Apple’s original chief evangelist while at the 2012 International BMA Conference. The conference was fabulous, the content it delivered was top notch and hearing Guy speak was the icing on the cake.

Author of the new book Enchantment, Guy reports that he has been in the business of enchantment since 1979. And I can back him up on this: Guy is as enchanting as they come. Not only does this thought leader have great proof and credibility, he knows how to captivate an audience with a story. Guy’s advice reminded me of some of the universal truths of what makes business (and human) relationships work. He emphasized the importance of the softer side of marketing: ultimately, people buy from people. I’ll tell you three reasons why (and what you can do about it).

1.    Be likable.
When you are genuinely friendly, you can make a genuine connection. Guy told a great story about how enchanting he found Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, to be when the big shot got down on his knees and rubbed Guy’s feet. A colleague was just relating a story to me on this point. When she was leaving the office of a long-term client, he said to her, “You do great work. But the real reason I love to collaborate with you is that I always feel better when you leave my office.”

2.    Be trustworthy.
The point that really hit home for me here was that when you trust others first, they will trust you. Guy pointed to brands like, and Nordstrom that have earned loyalty and brand equity by leading with customer trust. One of the suggestions Guy made on this point was to always approach people seeking to help them accomplish their goals (rather than wondering what they can do for us.)

3.    Tell a story.
Stories are currency. They can create intrigue, make an emotional connection and offer proof of likability and trustworthiness. One of the great legends of Silicon Valley, according to Guy, is that Ebay was started because the founder’s girlfriend wanted to sell PEZ dispensers. This makes a huge company seem completely approachable and even personable—even if its true mission (to democratize commerce) is far more lofty. Why talk about 64 gigabytes, for example, when you could explain that an iPod holds 10,000 songs? When you talk the talk of your desired listener, you are far more likely to make a connection. (Want more ideas about making an impact with story? Check out my post Storytelling That Sells: Five Tips for B2B Demand Generation Marketers.)

Are you enchanted yet? I encourage you to experience all of Guy’s insights about enchantment. Click the link to listen to his hour-long presentation and review the slide deck. Then, get ready to change hearts, minds and actions.

Note: the recorded presentation was given at Stanford University. It is very similar to but not exactly the same as what we heard at the BMA Conference. I think it’s a great example of how a story can be customized to connect with each audience, as Guy (a Stanford alum) weaves quite a bit of Stanford insider jesting throughout his presentation.

How B2B Companies are Achieving MAJOR Growth

February 2, 2012

The humble but truly effective growth principle we tend to overlook—and 4 ways to make it work for you.

Many of the technology organizations I consult with have one primary marketing priority: GET NEW LOGOS!

It happens at my organization too—everyone gets excited when we secure a major new customer. We open champagne, toast the great accomplishment and sing the praises of the key contributors who led to the win.

But what happens when, say, your largest customer renews for an additional 2-year commitment (without requiring procurement, RFPs and competitive bids)? These retention wins may represent a larger opportunity and/or higher margins, but do we invest our marketing dollars as heavily toward these wins?

I think intuitively we know that customer retention and growth contribute more profitably to the bottom line than acquiring a new customer. But if we need more nudging, here’s a powerful reminder from Sean Geehan, author, speaker and leading expert in B2B executive strategies.

The Business Case for a Retention Focus

I had the pleasure of hearing from Geehan at ITSMA 2011, where he reminded us of the Marketing 101 principle: It costs 3-5 times more to acquire a new account than it does to retain an existing customer.

His useful chart, shared below, clearly demonstrates a best practice model for ensuring the greatest ROI from marketing spend AND has been the baseline model for helping many organizations catapult growth.

Geehan also shared an eye-opening business case from his client, HCL Technologies, a multi-billion dollar global IT Services firm that has grown by more than 20% annually for the last 5 years.

When HCL realized that 70% of their revenue came from just 70 customers, they formed a Customer Advisory Council (CAC) as the centerpiece of their highly focused marketing efforts. Essentially, C-level executive and thought leaders from 80 HCL customer companies met regularly to exchange ideas, experiences and best practices.

In the process, the CAC shared the honest requirements of their businesses with HCL, and ultimately steered a lot of product direction. Meanwhile, HCL helped customers address more of their problems, nurturing trust and senior relationships.

As a result, Geehan notes in his B2B Executive Playbook, establishing a Customer Advisory Council can:

  •  Improve strategic relationships with key decision makers
  • Enhance companies’ ability to sustain, cross-sell and grow large strategic accounts
  • Validate that the company was launching the right solutions at the right time
  • Create a customer reference program
  • Elevate the company’s positioning in the customer’s mind: true partner vs. vendor

4 Ways You Can Drive Retention Efforts Worth Celebrating.

  • Showcase your expertise via thought-leadership content! Being a thought leader is AS important with customers as it is with prospects. Customers are looking for partners to support growth and innovation, so keep them informed and in tune with your organization’s best practices. You never know when they’ll have a need for them.
  • Marketing can drive increased account penetration by developing targeted Account Based Marketing campaigns for customers. Here’s how it works and 5 ways to get started.
  • Consider whether a Customer Advisory Board makes sense for your business. Geehan shares some very compelling evidence for the importance of this function within large tech organizations. Regardless of how you execute, access to customer insights, challenges and opportunities is essential.
  • Remember the math: It’s far more profitable to retain/grow customers than acquire new ones. Treat your customers as your organization’s #1 asset. Customer appreciation efforts go a long way!

Related Links:

The B2B Executive Playbook: The Ultimate Weapon for Achieving Sustainable, Predictable and Growth—by Shawn Geehan

Three Reasons Why Account-Based Marketing Should Be a Priority in B2B…And 5 Steps for Getting Started

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