Leave the obligatory marketing; take the cannoli.

If you love movies and Al Pacino like I do, The Godfather has likely been on your shelf as a DVD or VHS tape (remember those?) for a while. For new cinephiles, you may have recently streamed it on any of the myriad platforms available. But any way you’ve consumed it, the nearly three-hour film is no easy commitment. 

Neither is marketing, for that matter.

While the movie won’t provide a quick runtime, it will give you some pointers on marketing. You can become a don of B2B marketing. Doesn’t have much of a ring to it, but it hits the point — and the motif. Despite the illegal activities, you can reference The Godfather to analyze your audience and other businesses in your space. It only needs a little translation — un po' di traduzione, if you will.

Olive oil aside, B2B products call for a layered approach to marketing due to their complexity. With many different considerations (buying cycles, changes in the industry, emerging customers, etc.) coming into play, it requires patience and grit. Like the family. Not as intense (or deadly), but just as complex.

Here are five examples, from the Don and his associates themselves, to add flavor to your marketing. 

Caution: spoiler alerts ahead
(go watch the movie, or read the book)

1. Stand out like Johnny at Connie’s wedding.

Leave what’s boring and mundane, and take what’s worthy, useful and filled with mascarpone. (Somewhat.) When Johnny makes his entrance at Connie’s wedding, all eyes go to him. He’s got the looks, the charm and the fame. But none of it is copied and pasted; it’s uniquely him. Make sure what you’re doing is interesting and unique to your brand.

Avoid the constant buzz of “learn more” and “click here” that encompasses information being thrown at people who aren’t interested and don’t want to listen to the same call-to-action a thousand times. Make your audience “an offer they can’t refuse” by offering something they’ve yet to see.

For example, consider American Electric Power’s (AEP) electric vehicle campaign. Have you ever seen a cell phone with wheels or a car that plugs into a coffee pot? You’re about to.

“Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” (originally from Desmond Tutu)

2. Make connections.

Having a large network of contacts who know who you are, what you do, and respect you is vital. Doors open when you connect with people and build professional relationships. Think of every interaction —on social media, business reviews or through word of mouth — as an opportunity to be known. Invest in those interactions and engage with your audience online and in person. Increasing brand awareness and improving your reputation can make or break business deals and decisions. It’s all about who you know. 

“The richest man is the one with the most powerful friends.”

3. Remember decision makers (and their influencers).

Who influences who here? You have your decision maker (Don Corleone), but you also have those whom the decision maker trusts (Sonny, Peter, Tom, Michael, Lucca, etc.). The decision maker has the final say. But without the support of their decision influencers (I made that up, but let’s roll with it), you won’t get very far. You can’t convince the whole with only part of the equation; you need solid support for your case. If anything, make sure to keep the decision influencers in mind while you’re crafting your marketing plan. 

“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

4. Evolve often, ideally before you’re behind (or get a fish wrapped in a bulletproof vest delivered to your door).

Don Corleone refusing the offer to merge with the Tattaglia family was the beginning of the end. Shutting out a possible opportunity to evolve with the current market made a considerable amount of trouble for him. The abilities to recognize and evaluate new (legal) opportunities can allow your business to grow and expand. Don’t stick to tradition because of principle; find ways your business can adapt to the changing market.

TriComB2B helped Flowserve to launch RedRaven in early 2021 to support our client’s commitments to transform their business, create new business models, and leapfrog competitors with a new IoT platform. 

“Great men are not born great. They grow great.” 

5. Keep the relationship alive.

Don’t be like the guy showing up to Don Corleone’s house on the day of Connie’s wedding asking for help when you haven’t spoken to him in years. The same goes for your customers. Check in, ask how they’re doing, and keep a genuine interest. Customers are smart; they know real from fake. If they sense fake, you’ll lose their trust. And without trust, what is a relationship?

“Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.” 

La fine (the end)

We know B2B marketing requires an intense, comprehensive knowledge of subject matter that not all have. Explaining your product to those who need it and taking it down to its essence require thought and consideration of the product and the customers. 

If your marketing is looking a little bland, sit back and ask yourself, “How did things ever get so far?” All things considered, these tips will at least add a little extra spice to your marketing — and your movie list.