Building A Perfect B2B Influencer Program During Imperfect Times
Can you run a B2B influencer or ambassador program during turbulent times?
Organizations previously unfriendly to remote work suddenly have had to establish an entirely remote organization overnight. Companies have now been pushed to use a portion of their marketing budget to buy computers for their employees to transition to remote work. One organization in India had to buy 40,000 laptops for its employees before the government imposed a 21-day lockdown.
Amidst all of this, Abhijit Bhaduri sees opportunity. He’s a talent management expert who has worked with Microsoft, PepsiCo, and Colgate, among others. He’s sharing his insight into how organizations can run a successful B2B program during these uncertain times.
Goldie Chan: How can marketing departments work with B2B Influencers?
Abhijit Bhaduri: B2B businesses need to put a human face to the business. That is just what an influencer can do. A client asked me to up-skill their leaders on using digital media to run their day-to-day operations. That includes running meetings, connecting with their customers and employees. They even want to run their marketing conference digitally. The pandemic has pushed digital transformation in many organizations at a pace which the CEOs have not. Businesses have used B2B influencers to connect with customers. The current scenario may be a good opportunity for these businesses to use Influencers to communicate and connect with employees as well.
Chan: What kind of B2B Influencers should you be looking for at this time?
Bhaduri: During times of uncertainty and turbulence, it is important to work with influencers who can inspire trust. Influencers who can build hope, optimism, and resilience among customers and employees alike. This is a time to work with storytellers who can inspire. Not just thought leadership, influencers need to be trust leaders. They need to be able to tell customers and employees, “This too shall pass.”
Chan: How can you coach your influencers, so they are on message?
Bhaduri: The best influencers understand the product inside out. This may be a great time to bring influencers up to speed on every aspect of the products and offerings. Letting them connect with the biggest customers can help build the influencers’ awareness of how the product or service works on the ground. Letting influencers speak to customers can be a powerful way to build trust in leadership.
Chan: What companies are handling this well with their B2B program?
Bhaduri: PeopleStrong is an HR tech company with more than 250 customers. They are helping clients visualize a new style of work. Dell and SAP are two other organizations that have a strong B2B Influencer marketing program.
Max Life Insurance has payroll and performance data for 15,000 employees on the internal intranet because they thought it was more secure. PeopleStrong had 48 hours at the end of March amid the lockdown to migrate all of that data to the cloud. Influencers are amplifying these scenarios to advise other businesses to move to the cloud before it becomes an emergency. Influencers are also helping CHROs deal with how to handle compensation structuring and compliance because of the ambiguity of the situation.
Large employers like Future Group (50,000 employees) and V-Mart (10,000 employees) are opting to avoid layoffs by using pay cuts. Influencers brainstorm with clients to deal with these scenarios and make choices that are consistent with the values of the organization.
During the lockdown, a number of people are feeling isolated, stressed, and worried about the future, dealing with scenarios they have never imagined. PeopleStrong has asked me to create content that helps people deal with mental health challenges. The post-pandemic world will see the role of a people manager change. Technology will enable the people managers to manage significantly larger number of people. Preparing the clients for these scenarios is what Influencers will do.
There is an opportunity to build a strong B2B influencer program – not a perfect one – even during these times of uncertainty by focusing on those who inspire trust, hope and confidence in a product or audience.
This article first appeared in www.forbes.com
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