B2B Q&A: sustainability, automation for small companies and social’s role in B2B comms

We didn’t get time during the last episode of The B2B Lab to answer every great question that viewers submitted, but, we wrote them down and asked our panelists to give some answers here.

Here John Clay of Arup and Andrew Haussegger of Green Hat answer viewers’ questions on sustainability, automation for small companies and social media’s role in B2B comms.

(If you have questions you’d like our next panel of B2B marketing experts to answer, register for the next episode of The B2B Lab, which is happening next week.)


How big do you need to be to be sustainable? Can’t CSR be seen as a tick box exercise? How do companies pick the right CSR program to align with? [Question from Naj.]

JC: For me, sustainability is not about size, it is about attitude. Whether working in a small business or a larger organisation, sustainable business practices are not only better for resource optimisation it leads to an improved bottom line. The GRI Index is a well recognised framework that can be utilised for large and small companies.


What is ‘shared value’ – is it an evolution of corporate social responsibility or is it a new thing? [Question from Fabian.]

JC: Shared value is a concept that was put forward by Michael Porter and a fellow Harvard professor. It appears to be an evolution of CSR.


Is there any point automating marketing if you don’t have a company wide CRM?  [Question from an anonymous viewer.]

JC: A good question. CRM does not have to be companywide to gain benefits, it does however need to be used by sales and marketing teams.  Whether you use an integrated marketing platform or export files to an external add on platform, the key element is data quality and follow up.

AH: Yes. You don’t need a CRM to do marketing automaton but you will get better results if you do have a CRM and secondly, you integrate it with your MAS (marketing automation platform). You can still do lead scoring, run drip and trigger campaigns, route leads to sales and so on. Some MAS’s have their own built in CRM. However, the recent B2B Marketing Outlook Research report from Green Hat (in conjunction with Marketing) shows that marketers has better visibility of lead followup and lead conversion if they are running a connected MAS/CRM platform.


What is the most successful incentive reward program for B2B?  [Question from Michelle.]

JC: I undertook a major sales campaign for Telstra’s countrywide business unit in 2003. The campaign focussed upon increasing sales of their data products within the business sector and had two prime components. (A)  ‘Need for Speed’, a road show utilising the V8 racing car driver Russell Ingall, and demonstrating some of the technology utilised in keeping a successful team on the road, and (B) ‘V8 Super Car sales series’ and internal sales campaign with the sales team that comprised of a number of races based around sales of data products, prizes were awarded to each team that won a specific race and the overall winners attend the Gold Coast V8 event.

Sales of the data products went through the roof and the sales team had some great incentives

AH: Offering low-cost incentives and gifts to B2B C-level executives is somewhat fruitless. They can work with lower level influencers and middle management. The best C-level incentives I see are free attendance at conferences in popular sought-after venues – although this is expensive.

A more practical incentive is to provide customised content that is of value to the contact. We have run short polls or research and provide comparative info back to the respondent.

You also have to careful about offering incentives to government accounts.


How does social media fit into a B2B comms plan?  [Question from Colin.]

JC: Social media is a further channel to market. Whether used proactively or in a reactive monitoring basis, social media is an important channel to build into the communications programme.

AH: The first question is ‘How likely is it that your audience is active in social media?’. If they are there, then you need to be there. So there is a discovery exercise that needs to be done to find that out.

If they are there, then you need to treat social as another channel or route to market. That will require some planning, setting your leaders up in social with appropriate profiles, and then engaging in an appropriate way (not hard sell).


If you have questions you’d like our next panel of B2B marketing experts to answer, live on the web, register for the next episode of The B2B Lab, which is happening on Tuesday 27 May.