Monday, December 12, 2011

Does B2B Social Marketing Work?

"How One SMB Makes B2B Social Marketing Work" @thebyard @IVCiLLC @garyvee

"Someone can search for a product name and we come up, which is great, but it doesn't really show our value... Through social media and our blogging efforts, we can put out thought leadership content."

This is what Adam Kaiser, director of marketing at IVCi, was recently quoted as saying in the article "How One SMB Makes B2B Social Marketing Work" from "The BrainYard", Information Week's community for social business.

So let's look at that first half of that statement. "Someone can search for a product name and we come up, which is great, but it doesn't really show our value."  This is what traditional website marketing has always been about. Build a site, help it get found with SEO, and the sales will just roll in! But in the real world, that doesn't necessarily happen any more. Nowadays, just about every company has a website. And among you and your competitors, there is usually a lot of very similar website content. As Mr. Kaiser points out, even when you get found, you're still just one company on a list of similar companies. Being ranked #1 or #4 or #6 in not any kind of indicator of quality or value. 

So how do you stand out? The second part of that statement is all about marketing in today's interactive environment of integrated marketing with social media, SEO, video, and a good website as the base.  "Through social media and our blogging efforts, we can put out thought leadership content."  

In the B2B world, where there are often long cycle high value sales, we all have to remember, and remind ourselves periodically, of a few very important things.  

  1. We're actually selling to people, not to companies. At a recent conference I attented, the keynote speaker (Gary Vaynerchuk - @garyvee) made a simple, but very wise statement about B2B... "Behind every B is a C".  Remember, B2B or B2C, we're selling to people!
  2. In high value sales, people don't necessarily just buy features. They generally don't even just buy products or services. They're buying you. More precisely, they're buying into you. They're buying a belief in your credibility and your experience. They're actually investing, not buying. They're investing their trust in you.

So how does this relate back to social media marketing?  If you do it right, social media is another avenue, another multiplier to build and spread the value of your expertise, the value of your experience, and the level trust in you as a person and then in your product and company. You're building "thought leadership" in your field.

People will be able to tell from your posts and your tweets if you're just another huckster out to push a product down their throat or if you're someone who actually believes in educating and helping people. They'll see if you seem to be reasonable and relevant in what you're saying. Social media is consultative selling.

So make your blog posts relevant, helpful, insightful and informative. Don't just talk about a product; talk about an experience!  Make your tweets and your facebook page point to similar quality content; whether it is your blog post or someone else's.  People will appreciate if you're not a know-it-all who thinks you're the only wise person out there. So share other people's good content as well and give them credit! Goodwill, karma, pay it forward, etc. You get the idea.

And when you do this, your total web presence (website, seo, social) will help you stand out among the list of companies in the search results and among your competitors because you've moved the game to a higher level.

by Brian Baer,
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