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Break Free B2B Series: Carol-Lyn Jardine and Heather Hurst on Effectively Managing Change in B2B Marketing

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This phrase is often uttered with a negative connotation, but incidentally, it also represents an aspirational ideal for B2B marketing managers and leaders.  In an environment that is constantly shifting, brands and agencies are tasked with navigating uncertainty while remaining steadfast in their pursuit of the same ultimate goals: engaging prospects, building relationships, driving business results. As such, change management becomes a key aspect of the job, particularly for those in leadership positions. Focusing on “how to help employees embrace, adopt and utilize a change in their day-to-day work” (as defined by Prosci), change management is oft-overlooked but clearly essential for a profession where one day can look drastically different from the last. Carol-Lyn Jardine, who now serves as Vice President of Marketing Operations and Productivity at Alteryx, says she’s had the opportunity to enter new organizations multiple times in recent years, and one of the consistent themes she encounters is that employees are unsettled by the amount of change happening. “As I have kind of unlayered that conversation, what really comes out is that they’re not necessarily saying that they’re unhappy with change, what they’re actually saying is that they’re unhappy with how change has been rolled out.” Carol-Lyn has experienced plenty of change in her winding career journey, which crossed paths with Heather Hurst at Workfront a few years back. Heather, now Senior Director of Digital Engagement at Vivint Solar, has also witnessed a substantial amount of change — and the pains it can bring about — during her career.  “I think we tend to forget that the first question that an employee is really asking is, ‘How does this impact me?’” Heather says of major organizational shifts. “They are concerned with their place in the company.” Heather and Carol-Lyn were kind enough to join me for the latest episode of Break Free B2B — our first with multiple guests! Getting both of their varied perspectives felt fitting for the topic. Scroll forth to uncover them. 

Break Free B2B Interview with Carol-Lyn Jardine and Heather Hurst

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.

  • 02:53 – Managing change in marketing
  • 06:18 The evolution of change management
  • 08:40 – New roles, new perspectives
  • 10:41 – Big data and change management
  • 12:50 – Communicating around change
  • 16:20 – Barriers to efficient and effective organizational change
  • 21:16 – Aligning work with personal values
  • 24:23 – Breaking free in change management

Nick: What do you think are the sort of the most pressing, urgent changes that you’re seeing in the industry? Heather: We talk a lot about trends in the way that we market and in the way that we bring products to life. I think one of the elements that we miss a lot in that conversation is the impact that change has on the employees. Whether you are a new leader coming into a department or whether you’re making another change, another shift within the organization, it’s really, really important to help lead and manage a group through any change.  And, this is something Carol-Lyn and I are both really passionate about. How do you either come in as a leader managing change or how, as an employee, do you embrace change as well? I think that’s one of the biggest things that we overlook… leadership in marketing can have a pretty quick turnover sometimes. And you know, you forget what the impact that can have on employees. So we were really excited at the opportunity to talk about how you lead through change. Carol-Lyn: I’ve had the opportunity to go into new organizations a couple of times over the past few years. And one of the consistent themes that I hear from especially employees is that they’re unsettled by the amount of change that’s happening in their organizations … I look at them, and I think, Wow, we work in technology. Why are we surprised that there’s change happening?  So change is inevitable. And as I have kind of unlayered that conversation, what really comes out is that they’re not necessarily saying that they’re unhappy with change, what they’re actually saying is that they’re unhappy with how change has been rolled out.  That’s something that I’ve really thought about: How do we roll out change? How do we hope people understand why we’re changing what the impact of changes and how those changes actually affect each individual employee? And are we being clear about that communication to help them see that vision? Nick: What is an insight or recommendation that you have about breaking free? Carol-Lyn: When it comes to change management and kind of breaking free, I think there are a few things I would keep top of mind. One, assume good intent from the people around you as you’re going through change behaviors. I always try and make sure that when I’m going through these things, I assume good intent until it’s proven that I can’t—but by and large, people don’t disappoint me in that way. [bctt tweet=”I always try and make sure that when I’m going through change management, I assume good intent until it’s proven that I can’t. @cljardine #BreakFreeB2B #ChangeManagement” username=”toprank”] Heather: I think that we can tend to get really sucked into work … I will completely echo the good intentions piece from Carol-Lyn. But I think also considering how we spend our time either at work or outside of work and how that time aligns up to our values and where we want to spend time. I think that some people—especially in marketing— we can become workaholics a little bit.  So, are we spending our time on our hobbies or family or all of the places where we want to spend it? So we do become more. I think we’re better rounded employees if we figure out: What do I value? And then what does that equate to in the way that I spend my time? [bctt tweet=”I think we’re better rounded employees if we figure out: What do I value? And then what does that equate to in the way that I spend my time? @hehurst #BreakFreeB2B #ChangeManagement” username=”toprank”] 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: Carol-Lyn Jardine and Heather Hurst on Effectively Managing Change in B2B Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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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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