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Creating a B2B lead generation strategy in the Covid economy

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Creating a B2B lead generation strategy in the Covid economy 1

By Petra Smith, Founder and Managing Director of marketing agency Squirrels&Bears

The pandemic has transformed the relationship driven B2B environment in a significant way and what has started as an immediate response to a crisis, is now becoming the new norm in lead generation and sales. Compared to the more transactional interactions associated with B2C businesses, the traditional face to face nature of relationship building has now been fully replaced by digital conversations.

According to a recent McKinsey research B2B decision makers globally believe that digital prospecting is as effective as in-person meetings and that remote selling is as effective as in-person engagement. The new pandemic-induced digital patterns are likely to become permanent as nine in ten decision makers say that this new digital go-to-market strategy will be a fixture throughout 2021 and possibly beyond. With the long-term shift to digital business environment B2B businesses can drive their lead generation strategies by rethinking their approach and focusing on the following aspects:

  1. Define the changing priorities of your ideal customers

Buyer personas, representations of ideal customers, can be a useful way of helping to understand the specific profile of the customer segments and their key interests such as characteristics, behaviours, attitudes, needs, value drivers, concerns and motivations. Creating accurate buyer personas is key to planning how best to reach your target audience and deciding where resources should be focused to do so most effectively.

However, the pandemic has brought a new set of customer values and interests. For many, it’s a guarantee of safety and reassurance, as well as knowing that they can buy from and work with your business with limited close contact. Businesses can create value by effectively matching their offerings to specific customer needs, however this requires understanding what products and services they are looking for, what problems are they trying to solve and which offering works the best for them, in real time.

  1. Identify how they communicate

Forrester’s research suggests that over 80 percent of the sales cycle now takes place online. Customers make more decisions before contacting a business than ever before, and they expect your digital channels to educate them fully. If they can’t find the information they’re looking for on your digital channels, they might just head to your competitor’s website instead. Make it easy for your customers to buy from you by educating them about your offering, as well as implementing clear and simple calls to action that can guide them on their buying journey.

Lead generation is not about chasing a secret method that results in high volume of leads. It is about understanding and identifying the most effective combination of tactics that will help to achieve the unique lead generation goals. Any channel that generates interest in the business can be classed as lead generation, both online and offline.  The channels that work most effectively include content marketing, email marketing, event marketing, social media, website and PR. A multi-pronged approach to communication that covers different avenues and tactics is required as no single method ticks all the boxes by itself.

Content marketing

Creating high-quality content tailored to your target audience and their needs can help to establish your company as a trustworthy thought leader, keeping the brand fresh in their mind when they are ready to make a purchase.

Email marketing

Building relationships over time through carefully planned emails sent at the right time. The emails should offer new service or product offering, advice, new content, or other helpful information and resources that add value to the recipient.

Event marketing

Whilst unable to host or attend in-person events, webinars can be an equally powerful tool. The key is that attendees feel they have spent their time well and accessed valuable information and resources.

Social media marketing

Social media lead generation is about being where the customer is and showing them the approachable, human side of the business. The goal is to build relationships over time, which will put your brand at the forefront of their mind when they are ready to buy.

Website and SEO

Drive website visitors to specific landing pages and capture their contact details through gated forms. Offer useful information in exchange for an email address and continuously nurture those leads by educating them throughout their buying journey.

Press coverage

Build a thought leadership profile through reputable publications recognised by your target audience. Leverage the subject matter expertise of your team and use it to sell through insights and business storytelling.

  1. Generate and nurture leads

Hope is not a strategy. The process of generating and nurturing leads involves purposefully engaging the target audience by offering relevant information, supporting them in any way they need, and maintaining a sense of interest throughout every stage of the buyer’s journey. Every buying journey is different, but establishing a strategic communication strategy that guides your customers as they progress through their journey, will lead to higher return on investment and more in-depth customer relationships.

96% of B2B customers want content from industry thought leaders to inform their buying decisions, so creating compelling content is key to establishing your brand as the go-to, educational leader in your industry. Nurturing these leads is critical as it directly impacts customers’ decisions about whether or not they want to convert into paying customers. Establish a regular lead generation and nurture campaign schedule and leverage targeted content to reach industry-specific audiences through multiple channels and touchpoints.

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British Airways owner IAG says pensions deal, loan help boosts liquidity

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British Airways owner IAG says pensions deal, loan help boosts liquidity 2

By Sarah Young

LONDON (Reuters) – British Airways-owner IAG said on Monday it had raised total liquidity by 2.45 billion pounds ($3.4 billion) by deferring pension contributions and finalising a loan, which will help it survive the travel slump for longer.

IAG said it continued to explore other debt opportunities to improve its finances, which have been battered by the pandemic. The group will report quarterly results on Friday, which analysts expect to show a 1.25 billion euro ($1.51 billion) loss for October-December.

In order to clinch the deferral of the 450 million pounds worth of pension deficit contributions due between October 2020 and September 2021, BA agreed not to pay any dividends to parent company IAG before the end of 2023.

Like all airlines, IAG has been burning through cash, around 205 million euros a week, after operating for nearly 12 months with minimal revenues. It scrapped its dividend last April, and then raised 2.74 billion euros in October from shareholders to ride out the crisis.

Countries around the world have tightened travel restrictions over the last two months in response to new variants of the coronavirus and it is unclear when travel will restart, putting further pressure on airlines’ finances.

“In addition to these arrangements, IAG continues to explore other debt initiatives to improve further its liquidity,” IAG said in a statement. The group also owns the airlines Iberia and Vueling in Spain and Ireland’s Aer Lingus.

Shares in IAG are trading down 55% from where they were this time last year, but news of the extra liquidity helped them rise 1.1% to 167 pence in early trading on Monday, in line with Britain’s blue-chip index.

BA said it reached a final agreement for a new 2 billion pound five-year loan, which is partially guaranteed by Britain through its UK Export Finance unit, and would draw down the facility by the end of this month.

That facility was secured in December and also includes restrictions on BA making dividend payments to IAG.

Pension trustees also agreed to BA deferring monthly contributions of 37.5 million pounds, in a deal which included putting up property assets as security, and a suspension of BA dividends to parent company IAG until the end of 2023.

BA is IAG’s biggest and most profitable airline and the pause in dividends from it means it could be years before IAG shareholders see payments again.

That is unlikely to be a surprise for shareholders, given new debts taken on by the airline group, and the fact that travel is not expected to reach 2019 levels until 2024.

“This highlights the fact that IAG will be managing debt not distributions to shareholders for at least the next two years, which could be seen as reinforcing a negative,” Goodbody analysts said in a note.

($1 = 0.7148 pounds)

($1 = 0.8258 euros)

(Reporting by Sarah Young, editing by Estelle Shirbon and Susan Fenton)

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HSBC reshuffles top jobs ahead of strategy update

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HSBC reshuffles top jobs ahead of strategy update 3

LONDON (Reuters) – HSBC on Monday reshuffled several of its top regional executive roles, as it prepares to announce full year results and an updated strategy the next day.

The bank appointed Nuno Matos as chief executive of its wealth and personal banking business, while chief compliance officer Colin Bell became head of HSBC’s European business.

Michael Roberts was appointed CEO for the United States and Americas, while Stephen Moss will move to Dubai as head of the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey business, the bank said.

The bank also said it is expanding the remit of Chief Financial Officer Ewen Stevenson, who will now also run the bank’s transformation programme and its mergers and acquisitions plans.

The reshuffle by CEO Noel Quinn comes as HSBC prepares to unveil its latest strategy on Tuesday, alongside an expected plunge in annual profits reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In moving Stephen Moss to Dubai HSBC said it is expanding its strategic ambitions in the Middle East, suggesting the region will be a big part of the new strategy alongside an existing plan to ‘pivot’ more to Asia.

(Reporting By Lawrence White, editing by Iain Withers and Jason Neely)

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Breakdown of Global Trends: The Current State of Female Professionals Working in Accountancy

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Breakdown of Global Trends: The Current State of Female Professionals Working in Accountancy 4

By Sarah-Jane McQueen, General Manager of the accountancy course comparison website CoursesOnline.

Accountancy is a strong sector, which is growing on an international level. Despite economic issues rooted in 2020, the industry expects to see a swift recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. So, how are women represented within this industry? Over the years, there has been an encouraging trend in this area but it’s not without pitfalls. Here’s a breakdown of the current state of female professionals in accounting.

Around 50% of Accounting Students are Women  

Women tend to make up approximately 50% of accounting students around the world. What’s more, in some regions, women are now surpassing men when it comes to undertaking courses of this nature. In 2020, internal data from CoursesOnline showed that of those purchasing accounting courses, 56% were female and 44% were male.

With that in mind, there is no issue when it comes to encouraging women into this particular field. The statistics speak for themselves, revealing that women have just as much appetite for the subject matter as men do. Over the years, initiatives toward gender equality in this sector have been well-placed and supporting female students in this area.

Women are Highly-Represented in Accounting 

Not only are many women studying accounting, but they are also entering the industry at a high rate. On a global level, women are highly-represented in the field of accounting.

In Canada, more than 50% of women were accountants than men in 2016, and in the United States, women and men are parity in accounting. Moreover, over in Europe, women make up more than two-thirds of professionals in accountancy and law.

These figures are encouraging. However, that is not to say that there is no problem in terms of equality in this growing and developing field. Statistics reveal that there is a significant gap when it comes to women of colour working in this sector.

That is a hurdle that has to be overcome in the years to come. Furthermore, the gender pay gap within the sector is notable and needs addressing. While women are entering this field en-mass, they are not gaining the same rewards and benefits as men.

Women of Colour are still Underrepresented

Women of colour are underrepresented in the field of finance and accounting. Back in 2018, the AICPA Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits report revealed that 71% of professional staff members at CPA firms were white.

The same report showed that only 4% of employees were black while 6% were Latinx. Additionally, Asian and Pacific Islanders were the most represented people of colour, making up 17% of employees within this field.

This disparity is significant since almost half of graduates with accounting degrees were people of colour, accounting for 41% of Bachelor’s degree graduates and 46% of Master’s degree graduates.

With that in mind, the fact that people of colour, and particularly women of colour, are not proportionately represented in the field is concerning. It suggests a culture of inequality which stretches across the board within the finance and accountancy sectors. With social justice movements gathering speed, it is time for positive change.

The Gender Pay Gap in Accounting 

Despite the fact that women are proportionately well-represented in finance and accounting, there is a persisting gender pay gap. In the United States, for instance, women working as accountants or auditors earned a weekly median salary of $1,141 in 2019. On the other hand, their male counterparts earned a median salary of $1,419.

However, the tides may be set to change. Research now suggests that more than a third of CPA firms assess pay equity by both race and gender. That means that more finance companies are approaching the gender pay gap internally. Last year, the same review showed that 90% of firms have partners review the results of internal pay equity surveys. That figure is up from 74% when the review was last held back in 2014.

Despite these figures and a new trend toward counteracting pay inequality, the industry still has a long way to go. Given that women are highly represented within this sector, it is disturbing to see that there is a gulf of difference between their pay scales and that of men in the same industry. Many CPA firms have a responsibility to change their approach to this aspect of the work and conduct further reviews in the years to come.

The Takeaway 

More women than ever before are studying and working in the field of accounting. However, there is a need for significant change within this sector and its practices. Moving into the 2020s, there has to be continuous reviews of the pay scales and hiring practices of firms in this industry, should the sector aim to reach a level of just equality.

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