Drop and Give Me 20 (Insights on B2B Consultancies)

One of the exercises advocated by management consultant David C Baker is “Drop and Give Me 20”. Here’s your 20 on technology strategy consultancies

What I want you to give me is 20 insights that emerge from your expertise as applied to a particular focus… As you read your list of 20 things to me, nearly off the top of your head, will I have some aha moments? Will I learn something? … If you can’t articulate your expertise quickly and concisely and in a compelling manner, it’s just simply not true.

~ David C. Baker

Not sure if I measure up to those inspiring standards but I do have something to say (much to the chagrin of friends and family!). These insights apply to services consultancies with business customers and skew towards digital agencies, where I have 18 years of experience, including co-owning and growing a marketing integration consultancy.

(BTW, I wrote another “20” for nonprofits, the sector I served during most of my agency career).

Here’s what I have learned, and yes, this list will evolve over time.

  1. Positioning is the most important process an organization or individual can undertake. It’s more important than branding, or brand messaging. Who cares what your personality is if it’s not clear what you do and for whom you do it? You should probably get objective, outside help to understand your positioning, especially if it’s “crosshair'” positioning: horizontal + vertical. What is the problem you specialize in solving and for whom?
  2. A “Reason Why” is a “Purpose Statement” and can make for very compelling web content. In fact, a statement of values (and the purpose, mission, and vision statements that it spawns) don’t have to be boring. Your mission statement is the right place from which to derive your strategy
  3. A written strategy is a form of conversion copywriting in that it inspires action, in addition to prescribing it with logic.
  4. Do we even need to prefix strategy or marketing with the word digital anymore? No. Everything is digital so the term is redundant. Just marketing or strategy will do from here or at least be a valid substitute. Now you, the digital agency, have expanded your practice area by choosing the right description of what you do.
  5. The goal of a website redesign is to improve the ability of your business (or your clients’ businesses) to communicate clearly and compellingly with your audience. The goal is not to look good, be impressive, be funny, or be memorable. UX design should not be noticed (though photography should be).
  6. Copywriting and the art of wordsmithing are severely undervalued by most agencies relative to the value of UX and design.
  7. All websites are content marketing tools, first and foremost. Some are only content marketing websites and nothing more.
  8. Your website doesn’t need a blog for it to be a successful content marketing website. The only functionality that a content marketing sites needs is whatever helps users find content – navigation elements, search, taxonomy, email opt-ins.
  9. Some websites can also deliver value by offering useful features and functionalities to a specific set of people. Facebook, for example. These websites are essentially web-based products, even if they are a product of one.
  10. The creation and launch of content marketing websites doesn’t need to take more than one week.
  11. The creation and launch of product websites doesn’t need to take more than one month, and should never last more than three.
  12. Email marketing is the highest-ROI marketing function that is supported by a website.
  13. SEO is still broadly misunderstood, even by marketing or digital agencies. Especially the art of link building, which is not about being devious but about making meaningful value-connections. Exploiting SEO is an opportunity and a strategic imperative for most agencies.
  14. Paid advertising is widely underutilized in most verticals; establishing a limited paid advertising practice is advisable not so much for agencies, but for their clients.
  15. Every business should understand how it is perceived and described (and what its competition is) through analyzing search keywords.
  16. Account-Based Marketing is a buzzword that is also a high-value idea. It should probably be the goal of your future marketing efforts if your ideal client has 20 employees or more.
  17. Every business should be able to perform their own cold outbound marketing to generate leads, using some kind of refined list-building technique.
  18. List-building can be used for many purposes: understanding your audience better, creating a cold email outreach list, creating a cold phone outreach list, creating an in-real-life outreach list, creating an SEO backlink list. Even if you have a steady client flow, you should still do some list building, and you should pass this advice on to your clients.
  19. It is impossible to accurately and objectively measure the performance of advertising; also A/B split testing is over-rated because of the high cost of ownership.
  20. A web presence without one or more landing pages is a missed opportunity. Also, it’s advisable to target SEO traffic (or any kind of traffic) with landing pages but this is hardly ever done.
  21. “Business people – with the exception of a few clients I’ve met – are human beings” – Drayton Bird. In other words, it’s not the messaging that sets B2B marketing apart from marketing to consumers; it’s the market strategy.


fin de listicle