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Break Free B2B Series: Maliha Aqeel on How to Ace B2B Company Culture

This may be of some interest.

Maliha Aqeel Break Free B2B Interview

Maliha Aqeel, Assistant Director of Brand, Marketing and Communications at Ernst & Young, is known for being a staunch advocate of the three C’s that drive brands: content, customer, and culture.

But when Maliha sat down with TopRank Marketing’s Joshua Nite for a Break Free B2B interview at Content Marketing World this past fall, she had one “C” at the top of her mind: culture, and its role as a driver for both employee and customer satisfaction. 

“Whether we’re working for someone, or we’re actively purchasing their products, or just engaging with their brand, it matters to us what others think,” she says.

While many employees still see corporate culture as solely a function of HR, Maliha says this is not the case. She believes that all employees have a responsibility to help propagate and model a company’s values, both inside and outside the organization.

In particular, Maliha believes that marketers are key in cultivating and communicating corporate culture. “Marketers and communicators within organizations have to take the charge … Our job is to take all of those values and say, ‘Here’s how it could look. Here’s how the intangible becomes tangible,'” she asserts.

[bctt tweet=”Marketers and communicators within organizations have to take the charge … Our job is to take all of those values and say, ‘Here’s how it could look. Here’s how the intangible becomes tangible.’ @MalihaQ on #CorporateCulture #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Learn how to score an A in building your (B)rand’s (C)ulture by watching Maliha’s interview, which also touches on important topics such as employee journey maps, the purported death of email, and an unlikely upside of social media.

Break Free B2B Interview with Maliha Aqeel

Use the following time markers to skip between topics. We’ve also included some valuable excerpts from the conversation below. 

  • 00:24 – The three C’s that drive your brand
  • 00:39 – Company culture isn’t just an HR initiative
  • 01:54 – B2B companies are starting to embrace culture
  • 03:13 – You company must be considered before it can be preferred
  • 04:24 – Who leads the charge towards a cultural change?
  • 05:21 – Identifying the foundational values for your corporate culture
  • 06:25 – Customers prefer to work with companies that share their values
  • 09:40 – The rise of culture in the age of abundance
  • 11:37 – Culture’s role in the fight for talent 
  • 13:22 – Marketing’s role in influencing culture
  • 14:58 – Email is not dead (but we need to be smarter about how we use it)
  • 16:25 – Segmenting your internal audiences
  • 17:50 – Employee journey maps
  • 19:17 – Building brands by breaking down silos
  • 20:42 – Breaking free in B2B

Josh: Your presentation is on the three C’s that drive your B (or your brand), and that’s putting the focus on content, customer, and culture. What do you think we’re missing in that equation right now?

Maliha: Focus on culture. There’s still a misconception that culture is about only HR. But culture is something that’s pervasive throughout the organization, and why we choose to work somewhere, why we choose to engage with the brand. 

It’s something that we can’t always see. It’s what I call the intangible because it’s aligned to our values. If your values are that you prefer a certain type of lifestyle, and a certain type of philanthropy or social causes, you automatically start to look for brands that align with those values because you believe that there’s something is common with them. And that applies in B2B as well, not just B2C. 

I feel like that’s something marketers don’t always understand because we focus on knowing the customer, making sure our content is what they want, but we miss the values piece, and that’s where the gap can occur. 

[bctt tweet=”Culture is something that’s pervasive throughout the organization, and why we choose to work somewhere, why we choose to engage with the brand. @MalihaQ on #CorporateCulture #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Josh: Do you think there are B2B companies that are effectively developing culture?

Maliha: I think they are starting to. I’m not sure that all of them have quite cracked it yet. I certainly do see it at EY … When I joined, what I noticed was, there was a huge emphasis on our purpose, which is building a better working world. And everything that we were doing, we always remind ourselves that we were doing it for that purpose. The fact that the clients that choose to work with us … they believe that it’s important for companies to be part of building a better working world. 

Josh: Who leads the charge towards better culture?

Maliha: I think that the charge is really led by the senior leadership. They have to set the tone from the top. The culture comes, in many organizations, it’s still top-down, and I think it’s going to take time for that to change. Because, just the way organizations are structured, the top-down approach works. So I think they have to set the tone. 

But marketers and communicators within the organizations have to take the charge. And, they have to say, “Okay, we hear you, here’s how we think you should do it. And here’s how we can visualize that for you in the marketplace.” Whether it’s visualizing to the campaigns that we run or visualizing it through the internal communications that we work on, our job is to take all of those values and say, “Here’s how it could look. Here’s how the intangible becomes tangible.”

Josh: Where do you think that corporate culture is going in the next five years? What do you think we’re going to see with brands?

Maliha: I think we’re going to start to see that there’s almost an integration of … marketing, HR, communications — there’s going to be an integration between them so that you don’t have silos, working on different things, in their own little nation. But, rather, it’s likely going to be a broader function within a brand. And each of them will be expected to partner and they will be held to account for partnering in the right way. Because no one department owns a brand experience. It’s owned by everyone.

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Series: Maliha Aqeel on How to Ace B2B Company Culture appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Thank you for reading.

Break Free B2B Series: Amisha Gandhi on Global B2B Influencer Marketing

This may be of some interest.

Break Free B2B Interview with Amisha Gandhi

Break Free B2B Interview with Amisha Gandhi

Amisha Gandhi is the VP of Influencer Marketing & Communications for SAP Ariba & SAP Fieldglass. She is a sought-after speaker, and in this video — fresh off of a workshop presentation at MarketingProfs B2B Forum that absolutely rocked — she shares fascinating ideas about how to make an ongoing B2B influencer content marketing program not only work but drive organizational change and success. With that said, check out the full interview below.

Below are some of our favorite insights from the chat between Amisha and our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis.

Sue: I’ll always get calls from B2B marketers who say they want to deploy the Kardashian model for their long-tale, B2B influencer program that is still in its infancy, and I feel like I need to redirect. What are your thoughts on that?

Amisha: I think a lot of people, when they think about influencer marketing, they think it’s all celebrity, but in reality, when you’re looking at it, they are brand ambassadors. We have brand ambassadors because that really helps with awareness. It gives us a sense of credibility and a voice that everybody knows. Then you can build on technology influencers or software developers, depending on what you’re trying to do. You can have a whole soup-to-nuts program.

So maybe you’re working with the team that’s been a brand ambassadorship and then you’re seeing what the message is there and how can you work with other kinds of influencers that are practitioners, executives, or even CEOs. That really speaks to your audience in a more authentic way. But you still have the brand ambassador, you have these influencers, and you may even have some analysts and programmers, bringing it all together.

Sue: Okay, so for someone who’s thinking of doing a pilot a B2B pilot, maybe give us the worst-case scenario.

Amisha: Do not just start calling influencers and say, “I’m doing this campaign, do you want to be a part of it?” and be very prescriptive. If you come up with a campaign or there’s a big marketing campaign coming out, have a concept and then start talking to influencers because they will help you move your program. If you have a very hard defined program, then people will either want to be in it or not. That’s not a good way to make a relationship with an influencer.

You want to invite people to be in your program first and then do some brainstorming with them and see what they like, how they like to interact or what they like to do for companies. Versus being very prescriptive, be a little bit flexible. I think control — that’s one of the biggest things that I hear back in people starting out. They are like, “We have this great white-paper, we have this great program, you should come in and amplify it,”  but people aren’t looking to amplify your company content. They’re looking to help you reach their audience. So you need to work with them to see what’s going to be interesting for their audience.

[bctt tweet=”“Invite people to be in your program first and then do some brainstorming with them and see what they like, how they like to interact or what they like to do for companies.” @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”]

Sue: How can B2B marketers break free from boring B2B?

Amisha: We know people say, “Oh, B2B is boring.” It doesn’t have to be boring, but you have to know your audience and what they’re looking for. Most of the time, they’re really looking for straightforward information because they don’t have time. But you do have some capacity to be found on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and other places that serve as community watering holes or trade association sites. People are looking for content there. You can add sizzle by making a very interesting or provocative headline, have a play on words, and things like that, that you don’t normally see in B2B.

One thing that I use for inspiration is Taco Bell. Many years back they had this idea of, when the space shuttle comes back in, if it hit a certain spot then everybody in the world would get a free taco. It turned out to be this amazing communications program. It just went everywhere — it was viral. I always think about what can we do to make things viral in a B2B world. Sometimes we end up with outrageous ideas we don’t ever use or could never use, but it can inspire something real to happen. It informs creative and fun ways to reach people and touch people in a different way than you would normally think of in B2B. Plus, it can be a real success.

 

The entire interview is full of B2B-boundary-defying insights. Check out the full video above.

The post Break Free B2B Series: Amisha Gandhi on Global B2B Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Thank you for reading.