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Inspiring advocacy from staff in B2B

Prepare yourself for a shocking truth...


There are thousands of graduates out there, dreaming of a career in marketing, advertising and PR. Ask them about their ideal job and they’ll tell you all about the brands they’d love to work with. The audiences they’re dying to engage. And the campaigns they hope to create. What they probably won’t mention, is a long-standing desire to work in B2B marketing
So how did B2B become the ginger stepchild of our industry? Why aren’t we top of the hit-list when it comes to attracting the best talent?
I think it can be summed up in one word: boring.
A contentious viewpoint, perhaps. But time and time again, we seem to forget the golden rule: our audiences are all people at heart. It doesn’t matter how they fill their 9-5. They still go to the pub with their mates, veg out in front of the TV, and try to score tickets to that long awaited reunion gig of their favourite band. It’s not as if they automatically disconnect their souls the moment they log into their work email.
And yet, for some inexplicable reason, the world of B2B marketing seems to think that the only thing its audience cares about is work. So that’s what we talk about. Ad infinitum. The more information then better. And if it doesn’t inspire us, imagine how they must feel.
The fact is, our brands need the same thing our B2C counterparts need – advocates. Those unofficial, authentic, low-cost sales people who will go out and evangelise on our behalf. Word-of-mouth is just as important in our world. And social media is the perfect platform on which to activate it. But we keep making the same mistakes, confusing information overload with emotional engagement.
We need to shift our mindset, and play by the same rules as our colleagues in B2C. Our audience wants to be entertained and inspired. Engaged and rewarded. They may have to run their decisions past the folks in procurement, but they still listen to their heart when it comes to the crunch.
With the economy still in the grip of a seemingly endless recession, the competition is fiercer than ever. We need to cut through the white noise, give people a reason to choose us over someone else. The principles which have governed B2C marketing for decades can all apply. Loyalty rewards, humour, great customer service, entertainment, engagement and dialogue. They’re essential tools, and yet all too often, they’re completely overlooked.
None of us want to be defined by the work we do. And that includes our audiences.