15th October 2019
Online Sources of Information
It has long been the case that the trends and approaches prevailing in consumer marketing have eventually crossed over to and shaped B2B communications.
For many years now, for example, the mantra has been that there needs to be more emotion in B2B – talking human to human, rather than robotically outputting technical data.
After all, a built environment professional is a person, not just a job title. A person with hopes and fears, motivations and aversions, but also one that is acutely concerned with their industry, profession, personal development and livelihood. There is a lot at stake, which is why B2B communications has historically stayed ‘safe’, particularly in the typically traditional built environment sector.
However, as the lines between personal and professional life have become more blurred in the digital world, the opportunities for brands to communicate in a more meaningful, interesting and engaging way have increased.
Today’s built environment professional is as likely to watch a how-to video on YouTube as request a technical data sheet, for example, and get the latest trade insights and updates through their favourite blog, rather than by flicking through a trade journal.
No longer are traditional media outlets and event organisers the gatekeepers to opinion and curators of information. Companies have the ability to become ‘brand publishers’ themselves and serve relevant insight and information straight to their current and prospective customers.
However, in a fast moving digital world, we are now seeing another shift. Just as built environment brands settle into a new age of talking directly to their audiences, the rise of ‘influencers’ presents a new third-party channel through which brands can radically increase reach, relevance and credibility with professional communities.
Of course, influential industry professionals have long existed in the built environment – largely gaining their hard-earned reputation by speaking at high-profile events and having their opinions published in respected trade press.
Social media has enhanced the potential of such individuals to build loyal communities and develop personal brands that keep their audiences coming back for more. It has also given new opportunities for less traditional opinion-shapers to come to the fore – would we all be talking about Greta Thunberg without social media, for example?
For built environment professionals, industry influencers offer something different from traditional outlets. A more honest, credible view, a relatable source of inspiration, a human voice. (And another reminder that B2B audiences crave humanity in their professional communications.)
True, the power and scale of influencers is currently more engrained in some sectors than others. But what comes through loud and clear in this latest edition of the CMI is that all audiences, from architects to contractors, expect influential industry personalities to grow in importance over the next 12 months.
And the stark warning is that brands that do not embrace and look to harness these agenda-setters may increasingly find themselves isolated from the real, meaningful industry conversations.
By Barry Maginn, Associate Director