Tag Archives: #webinars

Jimmy Webb and the Power of Storytelling for B2B Companies

Music critic Miss Universe on "A Hard Day's Night" movie set

Songwriting legend Jimmy Webb has written some of pop music’s most enduring ballads, including Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Galveston, The Worst That Could Happen and the rock cantata MacArthur Park (simultaneously heralded as a musical masterpiece and the worst song ever written.)

The 66 year-old Oklahoma native now lives in Long Island and performs year-round at small venues in the US, Canada and abroad. Baby boomer fans pack the room to hear Webb strain to hit his own songs’ high notes, to listen to his tales of life on the road, and to get the real stories behind how and why he wrote specific songs.

At a show last weekend in New Jersey, Webb told fans about his first trip to London in 1964, where he fell in love with Miss Universe, who he met on the set of the Beatles movie, A Hard Day’s Night. According to the rambling story, in his attempt to impress the beauty queen – who had been cast as an exotic dancer and appears for 6 seconds in the film – Webb invited her back to his hotel room, where he sat her down next to him on the piano bench and performed his then unrecorded version of MacArthur Park. Unfortunately for Webb, the 7 ½-minute song failed to put her under his spell. She told him it was a silly song and left. Or so Webb’s story goes.

For the 450 people who heard Webb’s London adventure, all of whom have listened to MacArthur Park for decades, their musical experience has been forever re-shaped. When they hear that song in the future, it will provide a different context or a different meaning. Now, instead of cakes left out in the rain, they’re more likely to envision Jimmy Webb serenading Miss Universe in London. That’s the power of storytelling.

Social media and technology provide efficient ways for people to tell stories. But according to Dr. Pamela Rutledge, Director of the Media Psychology Research Center, “The human brain has been on a slower evolutionary trajectory than the technology. Our brains still respond to content by looking for the story to make sense out of the experience.”

Writing in Psychology Today magazine, Dr. Rutledge notes that, “When organizations, causes, brands or individuals identify and develop a core story, they create and display authentic meaning and purpose that others can believe, participate with, and share. This is the basis for cultural and social change. This is a skill worth learning.”

Increasingly, in B2B communication, companies focus on the medium and the technology, rather than the underlying message, its meaning or purpose.  In our world of websites, blast emails, podcasts, webinars, analytics, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, marketing automation, smart phones and mobile apps…it’s easy to forget that the quality of a company’s narrative drives people to notice, participate or care about what’s begin sold – whether that be a product, service or a philosophy.

We’re all familiar with how the big brand companies such as Harley Davidson, Jack Daniels, Levi Strauss, IBM and Ben & Jerry’s have leveraged their corporate narratives to build awareness and market interest. But most small and medium-sized companies, and B2B firms in particular, are at a loss to understand how the power of storytelling can showcase their core values, mission and marketplace differentiation. But this goal can be accomplished…not by cooking up elaborate tales about the company’s founders or its early struggles… but rather, by pulling back the curtain on how and why the company makes decisions, and by using real-life examples and incidents to provide interest and context.

A great example of effective storytelling involves Davidson Trust Company, a Devon, Pennsylvania-based investment manager with around $1 billion in assets under management. In a series of columns published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Davidson’s CEO Alvin A. Clay III used stories to establish relevance for his thoughts on issues of importance and likely interest to his firm’s current and prospective investors.

In one of his columns, Davidson’s CEO described how his father – a longtime professor at Villanova – had been the beneficiary of kindness as a young man, and had devoted much of his teaching career returning the favor to others. In another, Mr. Clay recounted a heated debate he had experienced with other business leaders, and how that exchange had shaped his decision-making process regarding publication of his company’s ethics statement on its website. In all of Clay’s columns, he used storytelling to deliver insight and to position the Davidson brand in a genuine, credible and memorable manner.

At his concerts, Jimmy Webb spends more time telling stories than he does on singing his songs. And these events typically end with a 10-minute standing ovation.

Earlier this month, Davidson Trust Company received its own standing ovation. Publicly traded Bryn Mawr Bank Corporation (NASDAQ:BMTC) announced plans to acquire Davidson.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brochureware Is Not a Dirty Word

Brochureware is the term used, often with derogatory marketing implications, to describe websites consisting entirely of static pages that promote a company’s products and services, people and value proposition. Most brochureware websites contain no content that requires updating, and other than perhaps a “Contact Us” form, no interactive capabilities. Brochureware simply sits online, like a printed brochure sits on a coffee table.

A big problem for many companies, from a brand marketing perspective, is that:

  1. Their well-intentioned graphic design firm has provided them with a website with functions requiring new and refreshed content. These functions might include: “News”; “In the News”; “Upcoming Events”; “Thought Leadership”; “Case Studies”; “White Papers”; “Webinars”, etc.
  2. Although they understand the potential marketing and SEO value of those website functions, companies often lack the motivation, resources or raw material to supply them with new, relevant, engaging content on a consistent basis.
  3. As a result, website visitors might see…a company blog with only 3 posts over the past year; no press releases issued since 2009; a “Coming Soon” graphic for the In the News section; an archive of quarterly newsletters with many issues skipped; a 2 year-old white paper that’s no longer relevant; and zero upcoming events scheduled.
  4. Based on these impressions, website visitors will likely conclude one or all of the following:
  • This company is out of business.
  • This company doesn’t really care what clients and prospects think of them.
  • If this company doesn’t care what I think of them, how well will they serve my needs?

Having seriously out-of-date or missing content on your website is akin to showing up to a first meeting with a prospective client wearing no shoes and the same shirt you’ve worn for the past 6 months, sporting a jacket with lapels 4 inches wide. Based on first impressions, that prospect has already crossed you off his list.

If your company’s website is incurring brand damage as a result of outdated content…and if it has no intention of building disciplines to consistently feed this online beast…then your best course of action is clear:


Your company will be better served – from a brand perspective – by having a website featuring 100% static brochureware, than by having a website that aspires to be something it’s not.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One Way Smart B2B Marketers Work Backwards

B2B Marketing Needs Impressive Stuff Like This

Companies invest considerable time and effort in securing and preparing for public events, industry seminars, keynote addresses, webinars and roundtable discussions. But contrary to The B2B Marketer’s Bible, and regardless of the upfront investment, the intrinsic value and opportunities related to participation in in-person and virtual public forums do not lie within the event itself.

Consider this:

  • A public platform represents an implied endorsement from the sponsoring organization because of its vested interest in showcasing knowledgeable speakers. No organization will knowingly showcase a speaker who has no credibility or expertise in his or her respective field.
  • The audience attending the event represents a small fraction of those you are attempting to influence, and key decision makers often are not present at public events.
  • What’s done to promote the firm’s endorsement from the sponsoring organization—in advance of and following the event—can be more important than what occurs at the event itself. Simply issuing a press release, or posting the event’s slide presentation on a website, will not adequately address the opportunity.

Here’s how one professional services firm gained a tangible ROI from a single speaking opportunity:

The managing partner of a New York-based, eight-person CPA firm—following his presentation at a regional bar association’s seminar on law-practice-related tax, compliance and compensation issues—sent highlights of his remarks, with a brief cover note, to all the members of that regional bar association, whether they had attended the seminar or not.

This CPA firm’s follow-up marketing effort, which combined the bar association’s implied third-party endorsement with its managing partner’s thought leadership in practice management, resulted in new relationships with three law firms that had not attended the seminar.

Smart marketers work backwards. They have a specific plan to merchandise the credibility and thought leadership related to the marketplace exposure directly to target audiences in advance of seeking the speaking opportunity. That way, their ability to convert a public platform into bona fide business results is significantly enhanced.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized