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Evolve or Die: The Role of Purpose & Authenticity in Marketing

Mack Fogelson DSPHX

In a world where the average U.S. consumer is confronted with 64GB of data per day, I think it’s safe to say that marketing requires a very different approach.

Marketers all over the world are searching hard for silver bullets and ways to differentiate. And I think a lot of companies are wondering what it will take to realize substantial growth.

It will certainly take more than being “the best answer” at every touchpoint or simply outspending the competition. Who can really afford that?

Growing in today’s world of digital information overload will require something special: Building from purpose and authenticity.

It was purpose and authenticity that was the focus of a presentation I heard at Digital Summit from Mackenzie (Mack) Fogelson recently. Did you know?

  • 63% of consumers would rather buy from a company they consider authentic. (Cohn & Wolfe)
  • 73% of consumers care about the company, not just the product when purchasing. (BBMG)
  • 50% of purchases are made because of word-of-mouth (Brains on Fire)

Companies focus far too much on how the brand is packaged and who the company is instead of looking at something even more compelling: Purpose, People, Promise. In Mack’s presentation, she drilled down into each.

1. Purpose is the key to growth. Businesses are challenged by an environment of constant change. Consumers expect more from the businesses they support and employees want more meaning in their work. A purpose offers a solution to each of these challenges and drives focus, strategy and growth.

“Purpose-driven companies make more money, have more engaged employees and are better at innovation and transformational change.” Harvard Business Review

Business growth in a digital world starts by clarifying your purpose as a business. “An ideal is a belief system that drives everything a brand does.” For more on that, check out this resource from Ogilvy: ogilvy.com/thebigideal

Big IdeaL

Image: Ogilvy

For an example of a brand hitting this head on, look at how Dove’s cultural tension tackles low self-esteem and poor body image in girls. Dove’s best self provides a gentle alternative to soap that cares for women’s bodies. Dove’s big ideal, in the middle, is that the world would be a better place if women were allowed to feel good about their bodies.

In this scenario, you can see that Dove’s focus isn’t on soap. It’s on helping women feel good about their bodies and that focus is aligned with their marketing strategy. The result? Let’s just say that Dove experienced a $1.5 billion jump in sales over a decade.

I think the key thing here comes from Jim Stengel, who said this was “not social responsibility or altruism, but a program for profit and improving people’s lives.”

What does that mean to marketers? Building a purpose-driven authentic brand brings growth.

2. People: Bridge the gap between your purpose and your people. Mack talked about their work with Traveling Vineyard. Starting by identifying 3 persona groups who aligned with the company’s purpose, Mack / Genuinely aligned the persona groups with real people from their community.

You can connect your people with purpose by identifying their challenges and goals, then work to understand their behaviors at each stage of the journey. What are they thinking, feeling and doing? With this understanding, you can use content to remove the roadblocks by addressing what customers are thinking, feeling and doing at each stage.

Purpose + People = growth

3. Promise: Your actions as a company afford you a runway with customers. The brand promise

Four steps to growth through a digital strategy:

1. Clarify the purpose of your organization. Purpose (the big ideal) is the intersection of cultural tension and your brand’s best self.

Purpose is:

  • Aspirational and belief-driven
  • Broader than a company’s products or services
  • At the hear of a business model
  • Long term, action oriented thinking
  • An improvement in customers and employees lives

Purpose is not:

  • A vision, mission, or values statement
  • Solely focused the internal organization
  • Not brand guidelines, corporate responsibility or PR
  • A tagline
  • A trend

2. Deconstruct your customer’s journey. Figure out what they are thinking, feeling and doing at each stage. Use a customer journey map template (pdf) as a guide.

3. Connect your team’s purpose and your organization’s purpose. Ask yourself: What does the organization as a whole exist to achieve? Also ask, “What role does your team play in achieving that purpose?”

4. Communicate your purpose externally and change the conversation from all about your product to purpose. A focus on purpose opens up the opportunity for your brand to connect in a meaningful way. The combination of promise and purpose is your greatest competitive advantage.

Need proof?

  • 85% of purpose-led companies showed positive growth. Harvard Business Review
  • 72% of global customers would recommend a company with a purpose. EY
  • Employees are 3 times more likely to stay at purpose-driven organizations. Imperative/LinkedIn

The kicker: Only 37% of executives believe their organizations are aligned with purpose.

If that’s not motivation to start this journey to evolve, I don’t know what is.

Mack Fogelson is the Founder and CEO of Genuinely.co

If you are in the Los Angeles area April 4-5th, be sure to check out the Digital Summit LA conference #DSLA

I’m going to be the closing keynoting on influencer marketing along with an opening keynote from Beverly Jackson of MGM and a lunchtime interview keynote with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. There are many other top notch speakers presenting from Facebook, Pinterest, Google, LinkedIn, BET Networks, Adobe, Forbes, The Economist, AOL, BMC Software, MIT, Wells Fargo, The Onion and many more.

Check out the DSLA website for the full agenda.

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The post Evolve or Die: The Role of Purpose & Authenticity in Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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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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