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The Propaganda/enthusiasm puzzle

TBKConsult CEO Hans Peter Bech is someone who likes to be pretty direct. Describing himself as an “international software business development evangelist” (which is quite a mouthful) his blog posts  expose quite a few home truths about the business consulting industry of which he is a part. For example, I particularly like his answer to the question: “Will the engagement of management consultants improve the probability of success?“. He writes: ““I don’t know. As an independent management consultant I can only answer for myself.  Call my other clients and ask them why they engaged me and what they achieved.” The words “I don’t know” really work for me. People should say them more often than they do in the world of business.

When I asked Hans Peter if he would mind commenting on “The Death of Propaganda”, he wrote:

“The proliferation of the Internet and the rapid spread of social media has provided a communication highway enabling businesses and institutions to communicate directly to their customers at less cost than ever before. This is the good news. The bad news is that this super fast and inexpensive highway is being abused with self-appraisal and glossy promotion, which doesn’t help the customers in their search for products and services meeting their needs. The signal/noise ratio of Internet based marketing communication is deteriorating rapidly representing a threat to the trustworthiness of social media. ‘The Death of Propaganda’ is a godsend to everyone engaged with market communication. It explains why the self-appraisal and glossy promotion is counterproductive. The book provides recommendations for how to replace the self-focused bravado with content relevant for the customers decision making process. If companies and institution all over the world would read the book and act accordingly the world would become a better place for all of us.”

If I hadn’t seen Hans Peter’s reaction to the book first-hand (he originally wrote to me that he was “really excited” by the message), and I was just a casual visitor to the site, I might have thought the above was pure propaganda – another carefully orchestrated testimonial probably written by the author/s of the book themselves and sent off for approval to the testimonialee (or whatever you can call such a person). Knowing what I know, I can assure our audience that it’s nothing of the kind. But it does make me think about how hard it can be to figure out how to communicate actual, real enthusiasm in Voice of Company contexts without having your audiences think you or your content partners are just doing another hard sell. Among our clients, we can see there is no shortage of internal enthusiasts who would really like to express their viewpoints and passion, so getting this right is, I believe, key to your company’s credibility.

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Jonathan Winch

I’m Jonathan Winch, partner at cylindr and BBN International and a B2B marketing enthusiast. I've participated as a strategic and creative resource in the marketing and communication sphere for over 25 years, making contributions to the strategies and communications of companies of all sizes, the best known of which include Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Danisco, GN ReSound, Hempel, Nokia Siemens Networks, LEGO, Coloplast, and Johnson & Johnson. My mission? To help B2B companies make the most of the value they create for the world. My hobby: Nutritional science, particularly sports nutrition.