As marketing professionals, we’re obsessed with the new, constantly scanning for the next big thing. In the race for market leadership, there are a multitude of emerging channels that demand our attention. But could it be that in our quest for novelty, B2B marketers are missing out on the most important channel of all: leaders.
How many B2B leaders would you consider to be an effective ambassador for their brand? With the plethora of options available, we’re underutilising the potential of our leaders and with it one of the most effective channels to engage stakeholders and build a human connection with B2B brands. So why are leaders not being activated as a marketing channel?
Leaders are one of marketing’s greatest assets and we must be clearer about what we want, and expect, from them. These professionals are often happy to take on the strategic, financial and operational duties that come with the role, but a surprising number are reluctant to accept the public profile that comes with it. Many shun the media spotlight for noble reasons, viewing this as heroic leadership, individualistic or even selfish behaviour.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Utilising leaders as ambassadors is not about personal empire building. Companies and brands don’t have ideas, expertise or relationships – people do. Leaders should be a channel to embody the voice, vision and values of the company and share insights with their customers and peers.
A new marketing channel
It’s a seldom acknowledged fact that leaders are a resource for the organisation: they work for you. As a marketing channel, leaders are too valuable to be ignored just to avoid the discomfort of an individual. Marketers should be in charge of their externally facing profile – ensuring they are working in close partnership with business leaders to create a strategic voice that reflects the goals of the organisation.
Social media has been a critical tool in opening up the personality of B2B brands, and it’s easy to see why so many have tuned in to the opportunities it presents. Now we need to switch on the leadership channel, stop our business heads copping out and unleash the power of visionary and committed leaders.
'Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out' was originally published in B2B Marketing (31/3/2014)