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Break Free B2B Series: Ben Wallace on the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ in B2B Marketing

Break Free B2B Interview with Ben Wallace

Break Free B2B Interview with Ben Wallace How does the air we breathe affect the work we produce? It’s not a question I’d pondered very frequently, until I had the opportunity to chat with Ben Wallace for the latest episode of Break Free B2B. But it’s one of many considerations that came to light during his illuminating interview with TopRank Marketing President Susan Misukanis and myself. As CEO of Link Positive, a clean-energy business development service, and co-founder of soon-to-launch energy optimization implementation startup Minify Energy, Ben consults companies about energy efficiencies, reducing environmental footprint, and creating a more comfortable workspace. As he explains, there are business and marketing implications that go well beyond what is apparent on the surface. To illustrate this, he urges a focus on the “Triple Bottom Line”: Planet, Productivity, Profit. All three are intertwined, and they are critical to the way B2B organizations present themselves and succeed in the marketplace today and in the critical years ahead, factoring climate change and the values of new generations defining the workforce. [bctt tweet=”Planet, Productivity, Profit: These components make up the Triple Bottom Line, according to @BenWallace. #BreakFreeB2B #SustainableBusiness” username=”toprank”] In our wide-ranging conversation with him, Ben explores sustainability from many angles, including how it functions as a marketing tool, practical ways to make improvements, the concrete effects on employees, and what the future holds.

Break Free B2B Interview with Ben Wallace

If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.

  • 1:31 – Following in his father’s footsteps
  • 3:27 – Moving from consumer goods to B2B 
  • 10:50 – Shifting to building management 
  • 12:11 – The influence of air quality on cognitive ability
  • 16:56 – Equipping old building to meet new environmental challenges
  • 22:27 – Influencing employee health when you don’t own the building
  • 26:00 – The value of green buildings
  • 28:45 – The ultimate in user-centric building design
  • 29:55 – Sustainability as a marketing tool
  • 32:55 – The role of compliance programs in sustainability
  • 34:20 – Focusing on sustainability as a corporate value
  • 37:13 – Have we lost the war against climate change?
  • 42:19 – Does your company need a sustainability audit? 

Susan: Ben, could you talk a little bit about an “aha” moment which made you think you could help make workplaces more healthy environments?  Ben: The vast majority of buildings out there don’t have smart sensing and controls in them—about 15 to 20% of the buildings have smart controls, and it’s mostly the class A high-rises for those who can afford it. But now, technologies are emerging with low cost sensors [such as] cloud compute—and the technology is there, especially with some of these born in the cloud, born digital, companies, making it accessible and affordable for pretty much everyone. And, also taking into account that usability factor and making it easy and so it’s not as complex to deploy …  I think the biggest aha there … is occupant experience.  And, wellness and indoor air quality is one of the factors that has a huge impact on your cognitive ability. And there’s CO 2 levels … outside they’re around 400-500 parts per million, but in a building, they can rise up especially as people are breathing and you get a lot of occupants in a building … You know, you find you might be tired after lunch and blaming it on the pasta lunch you had, but when it’s quite often the CO 2 levels rising to a point where you’re really more lethargic, and have less cognitive ability.  And so one of the big things that we saw there was the correlation of indoor air quality and productivity. And there’s something called the Cog Effect Study that Harvard has been working on for a few years now that has shown 100% cognitive ability improvement for green buildings that have better indoor air quality.  And so the sad irony about that is many schools, for instance, have really poor air circulation … So the place where you need the most cognitive ability in a learning environment is often suffering the most are those with CO 2 levels. And so that was something that really was brought to light. The people in the building that are the ultimate customers—your tenants, your employees and everyone else. [bctt tweet=”You might be tired after lunch and blaming it on the pasta you had, but it’s quite often the CO 2 levels rising to a point where you’re more lethargic and have less cognitive ability. — @BenWallace #Productivity #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”] Susan: How can agencies make more sustainable choices? Ben: You can take control of your waste stream and you know, give some upward pressure to your property owners … And as well, thinking about just the smart use of scheduling. I mean, there’s a lot of equipment that runs 24/7 out there and lights stay on. Buildings are the second-largest consumer of energy after transportation in the US. HVAC and lighting makes up somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of that typically.  So, there’s quite a bit that can be done with just some smart scheduling and smart controls. … Start looking at some [energy-saving programs]. US GGBC is a great resource for that, which is the Green Building Council. And the Department of Energy, which is where the ENERGY STAR benchmarking program exists—quite a bit of resources available there …  I think you, as marketers, and as an agency, you can do a few things. One, you can choose clients with that factor as well, just as they’re looking at choosing you based on that. Maybe look at those who are in the emerging new energy economy and sustainability-oriented organizations. But I think just bringing that forward as much as possible, knowing the factors from supply chain and renewable waste stream and highlighting what your employees are doing out in their homes and in their communities as well … Recognizing what you do collectively is something that you could just conscientiously keep track of and look at how to improve your energy efficiency and good corporate citizenship from a global climate perspective. Susan: Can you speak to incorporating your sustainability efforts into company values and brand messaging?  Ben: Absolutely. We’ve seen an even flow of sustainability messaging over the years. There’s a period of kind of heavy greenwashing that was going on in the ‘80s, in the ‘90s. And so you’ve seen recycling programs and you’ve seen a little bit of energy efficiency with ENERGY STAR products and things like that. But the sustainability and corporate citizenship story can get a lot bigger … It’s really expanded and it’s more and more important, widely recognized as something especially critical for us. They are sometimes considered the triple bottom line benefits. You’ve got profits and it’s definitely good for profits if you’re saving energy, saving on maintenance, getting a better lease. You are creating a more productive environment—there’s a huge set of layers of profit opportunity. Really what we come back to so much in this is: how is it supporting wellness and reduced absenteeism and, just a happy productive workforce? But then the planet impact is the third “P” of that … There’s a lot of companies and states and cities that are just plowing ahead with a path to 100% renewable or zero carbon footprint. And so it’s a long haul to get there. But there are ways that you can not only save money and reduce your carbon and start measuring … to get to net zero over time—consuming less energy or producing more energy than you consume is actually going to be positive. There’s opportunities around that from a corporate perspective and roadmap that will align more so with what cities and counties are doing.  Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Series: Ben Wallace on the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ in B2B Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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