As the blathering bozos in Congress say (when they’re not reading from Dr. Seuss books), I yield my column this month to the distinguished gentleman Michael Chasen, who helped build the education software startup Blackboard into a booming business that sold for $1.64 billion in 2011.
Chasen summarized five brilliant rules for authentic B2B brand communications recently, and I didn’t have room for it in our special section on the topic, which begins on page 30. I share it here with you.
Be passionate about what you do — even if others aren’t. Not everyone is going to love what you do, but to be a success, you have to and your enthusiasm must come through in all of your communications.
Share the stories that define your company. Big companies are built on small stories. Clients like to be let in on the little stories and secrets of how your company came to be and grow. For Blackboard, one small story is about acquiring the first computers and office chairs. Chasen says he and Pittinsky’s boss at KPMG Consulting offered to loan them computers when they quit to start Blackboard. They wheeled the computers out of the building on office chairs and it took a lot to convince the company’s security guard they had permission to take the equipment. They did — for the computers — but not the chairs, one of which Chasen says he sits on to this day.
Even if it’s not your audience — they are your audience. There may be buyers who aren’t immediately obvious to you, so don’t limit yourself to the companies you think will want to buy your product. Also, remember that people are picking up your message even if they aren’t part of your target audience.
Share the big news — and share all the news. The small steps your company makes on a day-to-day basis are news to your fans and they’ll be interested to learn about them.
Constantly seek advice — but be the expert. It’s good to engage with a variety of people and hear the advice they have to offer, but you need to trust your expertise and follow that above all.
Paul Nolan, Editor