“Remember how much power you as an individual have.” London Business School’s Dr. Ioannis Ioannou reminded the audience who attended the launch of FT Longitude’s latest report, The New Marketing Mission, which explores how the rise of sustainability on the corporate agenda is affecting the role of the B2B marketer.
The launch revolved around a panel discussion at the FT's headquarters in London, where Ioannis Ioannou, Aoife Walsh and Will Kirkpatrick shared their insights on the changes taking place in B2B marketing associated with matters concerning sustainability.
“In B2B, the world's largest companies are driving sustainability simply because they have the power to select partners and so can impose those standards on them,” says Ioannou, an associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School. “This commitment is strengthening the ties within the supply chain and making sustainability a fundamental part of the procurement process.”
Some key points from the newly launched report include the following:
- A multi-stakeholder approach is now key to the B2B marketing role. The customer is still key but is no longer the only stakeholder. Marketers must find a way to balance the needs of these different stakeholders - and find the metrics to track progress, which go beyond the traditional marketing funnel.
- The embedding of sustainability in the marketing role requires a multi-way conversation among those different stakeholders. This now takes place in the context of the wider supply chain, not just the individual business.
- Sustainability is now embedded in procurement processes and can account for as much of 20% of the factors that influence a purchase. Marketing has a key role to communicate a company's sustainability performance given its importance in the customer relationship. Business is won and lost on this factor.
- Many marketers are rightly worried about greenwash. But saying nothing is not an option. It's essential to understand the risks and communicate authentically, but at the same time be humble and admit where you still have progress to make.
- Sustainability has too long been regarded as a cost, but if it is embedded in products and services then it is also a huge opportunity.
- Marketers have an important role to play in collaborating with stakeholders across the business to gather data and stories, and then translate them into clear messages for an external audience.
The report, The New Marketing Mission, can be downloaded here.