What are the lessons for B2B marketers trying to create a new market for their product? Lessons from the BSRIA briefing on Air Quality. 

Paul Crabtree B2B Events, B2B Marketing, Industrial

After attending BSRIA’s Briefing on Air Quality, I wanted to share the lessons I observed for marketers taking products to market in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) which apply to anyone bringing a product to a niche market.   

From HVAC to building services, many Velo clients — including BSRIA — are active in this space. And rightly so. Air quality is not understood well enough. In the public’s consciousness, it has been overtaken by initiatives like ULEZ or net zero. 

Compared to these initiatives, the industry has a lot to do to lobby its important, as air quality appears to keep a much lower profile. Marketers in this sector carry additional responsibility. It may be niche, but it will change society for the better.  

It needs to start by driving changes in the public’s opinion to make this a priority. Each marketer working in HVAC, heating, building services and related sectors has a part to play. If the profile and understanding can be raised, regulators will respond, resulting in further changes in habits to lead to better air quality. This accelerates the adoption of innovations to help improve IAQ. We will design our way out of these issues, particularly in building services, and this is where B2B marketers come in: to help launch and establish new products and services and drive changes in behaviour. 

It starts with better storytelling to explain the issue and present how products/services can improve it. But how? 

A whole is more than the sum of its parts

Raising the understanding of air quality requires all marketers to tell stories that make sense together — particularly around the problems and the recommended approaches for a solution. This forms a canvas to position products/services for faster acceptance and create the necessary network effect by saying similar things to avoid confusion. The industry needs to align on this. 

An example is conflicting messages around insulation and energy conservation in your home to keep energy costs down. The consequence is closing windows and taking steps to stop heat “escaping”. This is the opposite of taking steps to improve ventilation necessary for good IAQ if the outside air quality is good. Top-line, these messages appear contradictory and lead to people being unsure, and therefore not taking any action at all.  

There is a place to echo the voices of the government, academia, scientists and industry, and this common canvas brings them together. Don’t fight the narrative until the issue is more high profile. 

Keep it simple. If I can relate, I will act.

Echoed by Sir Jonathan Van-Tam in his speech on how he honed his messaging to the nation in COVID19 updates, keep messaging simple and understandable. Avoid jargon. Think about your audience and make it relevant to their own lived experience (JVT loves a good analogy).   

Bring your story around to scenarios that your audience will recognise and relate to. Talking about specific use cases where a change in behaviour makes a difference prompts micro-actions, supported by your proposition, which aids adoption. Complex science is not needed until the issue is understood more. 

Real people, real impact.

Some of the most powerful moments of the day were when speakers drew on real-life examples, both personal and widely reported. It demonstrates how case studies in B2B connect on an emotional and rational level and demonstrate how your product/service affects individuals and companies. 

Advocates lead the way

If you want people to take action, show them others that have done it already. Humans rarely like to be first; they follow a precedentparticularly when you are encouraging new habits, such as changing heating solutions, encouraging new building design or advocating different material use. Sharing proof of concepts and trial results is vital. 

Avoid demonising

A natural messaging technique is to explain that the past ways of doing things are wrong. Many drivers of poor air quality are rooted within familiar — and often favoured — consumer behaviours, such as wood burners, travelling by car or how we heat our homes.  Demonising existing behaviour as a tactic will not work.   

With nearly 70% of our time spent indoors, people are very protective of their home environments. The industry needs to concentrate on encouraging better choices and providing options for the future. Diesel cars and the rapid adoption of EVs show how presenting a choice is the key to encouraging a switch in behaviours. We must appeal to better decision making, not lecture on the perils of the past.    

The BSRIA Briefing event was a fantastic occasion, bringing building services companies together to learn, network and find a pathway forward together. Unique in the industry, as an agency, we’re proud to work with a leader in this space. 

With many of our other partners in the room attending as event delegates, too, we’re well aware of our role to help our clients in these areas of storytelling. We’re galvanised by the subject matter and looking forward to doing our bit to raise awareness of the importance of IAQ and aid switches in behaviour to newer, more sustainable products/services which will change our world for the better. 




Paul Crabtree

Paul Crabtree

Managing Director

An IDM-qualified senior sales and marketing professional who has held board positions in various marketing agencies since 2005. Although he claims not to look old enough, the emerging silver locks tell a different story. As MD, founder and owner of Velo, his role is to lead the agency maintaining our quality standards to be the level that means we continue to be built on recommendation. He has a particular focus on new business, overseeing all our client relationships and leading our strategy function to make sure that our team has the skills and capabilities that our clients need, so we continue always craft great work to be proud of. Find him on LinkedIn here.