The “Post-Cool” Dilemma

Simplicity, authenticity, naturalness and earnestness… How can small B2B organizations thrive in a culture that favors mass-production?

Have you heard about the “post-cool” movement? It’s been around for a while, but you wouldn’t know it because mega-corps have been buying it up almost as quickly as companies can come online to serve it. The “post-cool” movement is about small, real, owner-owned-and-run businesses skipping the glossy corporate marketing and branding that is so prevalently found in big businesses these days. Instead, they sell their natural, craft-made, small-batch goods and services directly to consumers who understand and relate to their passion and commitment to something authentic.

However, to combat this small but legitimate threat, large bastions of selling “cool” such as Pepsi, Coke, Heinz and Hershey, have quietly bought up or bought into “post-cool” enterprises such as Naked, Odwalla, and Dagoba. These are brands that present themselves as authentic, small-batch, carefully made, environmentally responsible organizations who care about the people they source from and those they sell to. Essentially, “cool” brands are hijacking “post-cool” brands and aren’t telling anyone. But why keep it a secret? The “post-cool” brands would lose their authenticity, of course, and just become another sub-brand of their parent company…the large multinational conglomerates known for mass-produced products often containing stuff we don’t want (and possibly can’t identify) in them.

 

 

But how does this relate to small, closely held B2B businesses that sell to local markets? These businesses are a diverse group—they are construction companies, micro-farms, local youth sport programs, physical therapists, lawyers, independent medical professionals, craft-made skin care, and so on. Why should they be concerned with a “post-cool” movement? Because they are, and always have been, the “post-cool” movement! These small, closely held businesses have always been “post-cool” – not out of intent, but stemming from organizational limitations, the nature and personality of their clientele and the natural way they engage customers personally. It’s doing business with people you like, you know, and you trust. No big corps hiding behind the mask of “post-cool,” hoping the masses never connect them to their new lucrative brands they bought up and integrated.

Getting your message to your local market is still vitally important to your business’s success. However, in the age of everything-Google (post phone book) where search for products and services is done online, on-the-go, and from a variety of mobile devices, small businesses must rise above the “cool” noise so they can be heard and found online. You must proudly stand out from the big generic mass-produced offerings now available at everyone’s fingertips.

Social media integrated with your website works well for this, but having a website that speaks to your customers without the generic corporate marketing glam is difficult. You’ll need people who get to know you and your customers, so the message is as authentic as your business. Get it wrong and you run the risk of selling coolness and losing the audience you so badly wanted to gain. Customers are smarter, connected, and more resistant to glam marketing. These types of customers want their needs met by real people focused on individualized solutions to their needs. Can small businesses get “post-cool” understanding from a large media agency that successfully peddles cool? Doubtful. I recommend that your small, authentic, real, natural, earnest, local business establish a partnership with creative marketing people who get it and get you so your customers get what they want.