If you and I found ourselves standing on a street corner, waiting for the light to change, and it struck you to ask me, “What’s the one thing I could do that might help make my Social Media efforts more successful?,” in the few seconds I had to answer before the light changed, my response would likely be this:
“Think like a Business-to-Business marketer.”
Traditional marketers often struggle with Social Media because it doesn’t operate by the traditional rules we learned regarding marketing, advertising and promotion. Traditionally, we were able to buy attention. To be successful with Social Media, we have to earn it.
The problem with looking at Social Media through traditional marketing lenses is that it’s too seductive to view them primarily as additional channels to deliver brand messages. To get out of this mindset, it might help to approach Social Media with the mindset of a B-to-B marketer.
What do B-to-B marketers do that B-to-C’ers could learn from? Consider this list:
1) B-to-B’ers build relationships. B-to-B purchase decisions generally take much longer than B-to-C because there are multiple people or teams that need to have buy-in. Throwing your message out once or even a handful of times won’t be enough to close the sale. Building a relationship built on trust will.
2) B-to-B’ers focus on providing solutions, not just making sales. They get to know their customers and what their needs really are, then use those needs as a platform for conversation and conversion.
3) B-to-B’ers enable the customer to have her own “period of discovery.” In a B-to-B environment, generally the customer comes to you after she’s done a good deal of homework. She’s already “short-listed” you. The lead time or “courtship-phase” demands the marketer to constantly engage, communicate and maintain a dialogue with the prospective customer.
4) The B-to-B’er rewards loyalty. Once B-to-B clients make a purchase decision, they tend to be more loyal and spend more money. Marketers who dedicate more of their resources to keeping current customers happy generally do quite well in the B-to-B environment.
5) B-to-B’ers enable their customers to get input from others. Successful case studies are important. First-person testimonials are important. Actual customer experiences are important.
6) The B-to-B’er understands that not all buyers are the same. Customers may come to them for different reasons, and different stakeholders in the organization are looking for different things. A one-size-fits-all pitch is unlikely to work across the board. Understanding the whims and agendas of all stakeholders allows the B-to-B marketer to directly address each need.
7) The B-to-B’er enables prospects to find out as much about them as they can. B-to-B purchase decisions are made in a very logical, deliberate way with a strong ROI case to justify them, whereas often B-to-C purchases are based on emotion. Prospects often must justify their purchase decision to investors, bosses, or boards of directors.
Social Media, managed thoughtfully, can help any organization, whether B-to-B or B-to-C, better engage with its customers in each of these ways.
A brief side note: regular readers of this blog are familiar the importance of generating and publishing quality content on an ongoing basis. I will be hosting a three-hour workshop on Developing Killer Content on April 28th through Greater Spokane Inc.’s BIZ Street series. You can get more information on the workshop and register here. Or just drop me a line.
Posted by Mickey