There was a time when B2B marketing was all about flashy advertisements, mailers, trade show displays, and (for the big-budget companies) TV commercials. But in the digital age, the number of ways businesses can reach their audiences has increased exponentially, and it’s only continuing to grow.
Of course, that means today’s audiences are inundated with more advertising and marketing copy than ever before, and study after study after study has shown that, with all that noise, traditional B2B marketing strategies have become largely ineffective.
So how can B2B marketers break through the noise? By showcasing the company’s leadership.
Today, buyers have nearly limitless options when they’re looking for a product or service, and the real distinction among brands isn’t a high-end feature or a premium package. The real distinction is the people behind the business.
Leaders are the core of today’s brands, and companies who want to stand out know the best way to do so is to invest in those leaders, building their reputations and helping them connect on a personal, authentic level with their audiences.
Ditch the Traditional “Executive Veneer,” and Uncover Your Brand’s Best Asset
Once upon a time, corporate executives were expected to spend their days in their corner offices, making big decisions behind the scenes and emerging only for high-profile events such as investor presentations and board meetings. They were inaccessible to outsiders, and that was okay because the audience didn’t need or want to get to know them in order to make purchasing decisions.
But what if there was another way?
What if leaders stepped out of those corner offices, took off their “high-powered executive” masks, and took advantage of the myriad ways technology has enabled them to easily and inexpensively connect with audiences. What if the leaders became the relatable, trustworthy faces of their company’s brands?
In reality, it’s no longer about “what if.” Savvy marketers are already leveraging their executives’ voices and reputations, as audiences demand to get to know the leaders behind the brand.
In fact, recent studies have shown that nearly 70 percent of audiences based their perception of a company on their perception of its leadership. What’s more, audiences expect those leaders to be engaged with current events and outspoken about political issues related to their businesses—40 percent of Americans more likely to buy from a company when they agree with the CEO’s position.
It’s no longer enough to show off the latest gadgets or innovations. Audiences—from consumers to investors to potential business partners and employees—are demanding to hear from a company’s leaders before they’ll agree to invest their time or money in a brand.
How Can Companies Prepare their Leaders for External Engagement?
Audiences want to buy from brands whose leaders have a reputation for being authentic, credible, and trustworthy, and the foundation of that ideal reputation is the executive’s ability to communicate in a way that fosters genuine connections with the audience, inspiring trust and respect from potential buyers. So the most important investment the marketing and communications teams can make is in evaluating and improving their c-suite’s leadership communication skills, ensuring that every executive is prepared to have the desired audience impact in every engagement and across every platform.
Look at some of our country’s best-known B2B leaders.
Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff is well known for his ability to connect with his audience—about human rights, business, and why they should work with Salesforce—by making appeals to their intuition; J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is constantly engaging with the public, utterly unafraid to share his authentic beliefs on everything from cryptocurrency to politics, even when those beliefs go against common Wall Street opinion; and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Bill Gates are both hyper engaged with audiences, discussing topics like parental leave, climate change, and medical research on a variety of platforms (including, of course, Facebook).
It’s no accident that these leaders are behind some of our biggest brands. These companies are leveraging the power of their executives’ reputations to inspire a following that’s broader, deeper, and more loyal than any audience built on product or service ads alone.
And they’re doing it through frequent, powerful communication.
Is your company ready for the future of B2B marketing?