Social media marketing (SMM) and related social campaigns are traditionally seen as more of a B2C (business-to-consumer) activity. The core idea is that relationships are based on person-to-person, not person-to-faceless-organization.
However, B2B relationships centers around people. It’s not unique to B2C. While we don’t necessarily advocate discussing the latest ski-trip or personal passions publicly per se — the companies who inject ‘personality’ and ‘connection’ are much more likely to engage and create new business opportunities.
While B2C may be more ‘experience’ based, B2B positioning is all about value.
Time For Re-Thinking Traditional Marketing
A recent article from the Harvard Business Review (Jan 2013) stated that it’s time to “rethink the 4 P’s of marketing”. Here’s what Richard Ettenson (Professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management) suggested:
Instead, focus on SOLUTION. Define offerings by the needs they meet, not by their features, functions or technological superiority.
Instead, focus on ACCESS. Develop an integrated cross-channel presence that considers customers’ entire purchase journey instead of emphasizing individual purchase locations and channels.
Instead, focus on VALUE. Articulate the benefits relative to price, rather than stressing how price relates to productions costs, profit margins, or competitors’ prices.
Instead, focus on EDUCATION. Provide information relevant to customers’ specific needs at each point in the purchase cycle, rather than relying on advertising, PR and personal selling that covers the waterfront.
B2B marketers who continue to embrace the 4 P’s model and mind-set risk getting locked into a repetitive and increasingly unproductive technological arms race.” – Richard Ettenson
Use the S.A.V.E framework instead as the centerpiece of a new solution-selling strategy.
From Campaigns To Lead Generation To Sales Conversion
Building out strategies and tactical plans for social media in a B2B environment has been successful for many companies. Think Dell, Cisco. However, each market is different, and there are B2B hybrid environments like Salesforce.com that are seeing big returns on their social media marketing.
However, all companies are challenged with the ROI concept using social media. An SEO or PPC program is much easier to track in terms of click-to-attribution of sales.
Four Steps To Igniting Your B2B Social Media Marketing Campaigns
The ultimate key to success is the improvement of lead quality, managing the sales process and keeping your sales staff updated. The time and expectation management for results can be difficult to control. You must develop a marketing strategy that creates not only buy-in across business units and executive levels, but delivers results for the organization overall.
You need to fully assess and map out these 4 areas of concern:
1. How to find and attract leads.
What has worked in the past? What other techniques and strategies are working in the field (competitors). You must know and create buyer personas, be clear on your UVP (USP) and develop high quality content that can be consumed at the ‘right’ times. This leverages different mediums and technologies (from desktop to portables).
2. How to determine quality of leads.
The sales and marketing success is based on this. You must identify the quality leads early in the process, establish your own lead scoring system, develop nurturing solutions (email, phone, blog, etc) and continue this relationship-creation until they get set for sales close. (See the education-based-marketing infographic)
3. How to start and continually develop an automated marketing process.
With powerful automation tools and technology, there is no reason why this cannot be done fairly easily. Connect all the research and data from 1 and 2 above, and implement and launch the automation of your processes.
4. How to build out the “back-end” for bigger/more sales.
Your amazing new B2B marketing and social media plans are coming together. But now, you need to track, monitor and identify further opportunities to get more sales. This includes making sure staff and support people continually show executive teams what’s working, and what’s not.
Get started now. Look at what produces the most results today, and eliminate low producers. Drill deeper as you think about the 80/20 rule of business.