March 21, 2015

3 Ways That Your B2B Social Media Marketing Needs to Be Helpful

R-chie double structure arc diagram by Daniel Lai, Jeff Proctor, Jing Yun and Irmtraud Meyer by Duncan Hull

Illustration by Duncan Hull

 

Post by Daniel Kushner
Founder, Oktopost

The rise of social media over the past decade has forever changed the way businesses go about capturing, pursuing and closing leads. Nowadays, B2B purchasing only takes place once prospects have begun to truly trust a vendor that they’re looking into, as relationships are now formed far earlier in the purchase cycle, with buyers investing heavily in self-service research – often across several digital channels.

For vendors, this changing dynamic calls for enabling the research process. Today’s digitally connected B2B vendors know that educating and being generous with helpful advice on social media is the most effective way to position their companies as valuable partners.

Businesses and consumers alike are interested in investing far more on product research today than we did before the social age. According to Jay Baer’s Youtility, in 2010, when social media’s pervasiveness had begun to take hold, shoppers needed an average of 5.3 sources of information to make a decision. By 2011, that number had almost doubled to 10.4.

In order to achieve high levels of performance with your social media marketing, you need to remember how the B2B procurement process works from the perspective of the buyer. The research process can be heavy on resources, and the people whose job it is to perform the research are often not the same people who make the final sourcing decisions.

Here are three pivotal ways that your B2B social media marketing needs to be helpful.

1. Prove Your ROI

How can the purchasing business profit from your product or service? There are two main ways of proving that your offer is beneficial. The first is if it solves a major pain point for the business. If your solution can save your prospects time, money or other resources, then you’ll have a much better chance of making a sale.

The second way to demonstrate the potential for return on investment is, of course, proving that your product or service will increase revenues for your B2B prospect. Either way, by emphasizing the business case for your solution, you’ll be giving researchers on the prospecting end powerful ammunition for convincing their superiors about you.

Perhaps the most effective tactic for talking up you solution’s usefulness as a profit booster is to share case studies on your social media channels. Publish content about businesses you have helped in the past, and share concrete numbers, before and after. The profits are in the proof.

2. Cut to the Chase

Unlike the world of B2C marketing, where social media marketing emphasizes building “image,” brand equity and positive sentiment over time, B2B social media means getting down to the nitty-gritty.

Keep in mind that business people are usually overworked and have mile-long to-do lists, so the faster you can connect them with the information they need, the more likely they are to want to work with you. Some B2B consumers will happily click around dozens of websites, social feeds and resource libraries before they figure out what it is that they want.

But many businesses just don’t have that kind of time. Time is money for them, so success means presenting, as clearly and simply as possible, your solution’s value proposition, focusing on how you can benefit your prospect’s business.

EMPHASIZE CONSENSUS

Remember – the person you’re interacting with may not actually have the authority to sign checks. One distinct challenge in B2B marketing is that you’re selling to a business and not to an end consumer. That means that your social engagement is likely to be with a lower-down employee in a prospective customer company, someone who may not have the final signing authority. It may simply be his or her job to do research and perhaps to build a report that highlights his or her top choices. The decision then may go to the researcher’s boss, or the researcher’s boss’s boss, or even a committee or board.

So B2B marketers often indirectly sell their products to someone that has no specific knowledge of your field of expertise. That’s why it’s so important to stay away from highly technical language and instead stick to the tried-and-true basics, as listed above. But perhaps most importantly, try to foresee what specific pieces of information the employee you are dealing with will need to sell your product or service to his or her superiors.

When selling to businesses on social media, your posts and interactions should enable the B2B procurement pipeline by supplying prospects with the paperwork, documentation and supplementary information necessary to expedite B2B processes. And when you put your solution in the context of universal truths, you’re effectively giving everyone involved, regardless of their placement on the totem pole, what they need to know to seal the deal. Do your prospects’ jobs for them, and they will be grateful to you for your service, and there is a higher likelihood of closing a sale.

Help that Meets Demand

The key to B2B social media mastery is, therefore, incorporating the dynamics of today’s procurement processes into every interaction.

Provide true value to the people you’re engaging with by always proving your product’s ROI, positioning your solution as the answer for all relevant pain points, and in a way that builds trust and enables expediting the contemporary B2B sourcing pipeline.

March 5, 2015

Gary Vaynerchuk at Launch: Traditional media holding on for dear life


Gary Vaynerchuk at Launch: “We adore human interaction.” (Photo by JD Lasica)

JD LasicaThere were lots of remarkable moments at the eighth Launch Festival, which ended a three-day run Wednesday at Fort Mason in San Francisco: Investor legend Peter Thiel exhorting entrepreneurs to find a space and “create a monopoly.” Pundit Glenn Beck declaring, “We don’t need the media. I trust my neighbors.” Forty or so founders taking to the stage to launch interesting new startups.

But there’s only one Gary Vaynerchuk, and he made his first appearance at Launch a lively one.

Turns out garyvee is a big fan of the Taylor Swift brand of social media marketing. When Swift randomly sends gifts at Christmas or shows up to interact with ordinary fans — to their delighted screams — it all gets amplified through social.

“We adore human interaction,” he told about 2,000 attendees at Launch. “It’s real.” And it’s what the most powerful kind of social media marketing consists of — even if it’s a fleeting 14-second video message. It’s the personalization that makes it real and leaves a lasting impression.

Vaynerchuk has made his mark through such observations, and his VaynerMedia, now a thriving social marketing agency. VaynerMedia is banking on the continued retreat and fragmentation of those large corporate entities Formerly Known As The Media.

“These traditional media companies have such large overhead for something that doesn’t provide value anymore,” he told interviewer and Launch founder Jason Calacanis. “They’re holding their collective breath. The shit’s about to hit the fan, and they’ve decided to let the next CEO worry about it.”

The changes in media and technology are coming so fast, Vaynerchuk said, that “I wake up every morning trying to put myself out of business. I’d much rather put myself out of business than have somebody else do it.”

In addition to his social marketing business, Vaynerchuk also operates a sizable investment fund, and he had this tip for entrepreneurs: “We are living in such a fast-paced world where time is such an asset. The thing I want to invest in is people buying or capturing and selling back all of us time.” With the world valuing it so highly, “time is the play right now. Every piece of technology that is selling us back time has an enormous value opportunity.”

Founders, time to start getting those time-saving startups ready for Launch 2016.

Here’s my Flickr set of all three days of Launch — it’s the eighth year in a row I’ve attended.

February 27, 2015

Why community & marketing should be best buds

community-building
Maria Ogneva of Sidecar, right, with Evan Hamilton of Zozi and moderator Irene Koehler (Photo by JD Lasica).

Target audience: Community managers, businesses, brands, digital marketers, advertising agencies, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaHere, in the year 2015, the term community building no longer seems to command the heft and respect it once did. Today it’s all about growth hacking and social sharing and co-creation.

But, old school or not, community building still matters. For startups. For small businesses. For brands. For corporations.

Yesterday, we put on the 25th Social Media Breakfast East Bay in Oakland, sponsored by Lithium — I was the guest speaker at the first one, six years ago this month in Berkeley — and tackled the topic, “Secrets/Myths/Opportunities of Community Building.” Continue reading

February 12, 2015

Startup Grind: ‘Find your golden purpose’

Jeff-Hoffman
Jeff Hoffman, who was part of the founding team at Priceline and now runs ColorJar.

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startup teams, businesses, anyone who cares about innovation.

JD LasicaI‘m back from Startup Grind 2015 in Silicon Valley’s Redwood City, an annual two-day affair that attracts thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world.

Here’s my Flickr photo set of 47 shots from the conference, which featured Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger, Bill Maris of Google Ventures, Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison and Houzz co-founder Adi Tatarko, among many others.

But the talk I was most taken with was by Jeff Hoffman, a veteran entrepreneur and public speaker who was on Priceline’s founding team and now runs ColorJar. Jeff encouraged the assembled startup founders to “find your golden purpose.” Continue reading

January 12, 2015

How to track customer data for your business

big-data

Are you using Big Data effectively to grow your business & sales in 2015?

Post by Susan Payton
ChamberofCommerce.com

Ever heard of Big Data? Probably. Are you using it? Maybe not. Big Data represents disruptive new technologies that capture and track customer information. The data is a goldmine for your business if you know how to use it correctly.

With eMarketer anticipating more than 1.75 billion smartphones to be purchased globally by the end of the year and 25% of the world on a social network, there is more data available than ever before.

To show how new all of this data really is, IBM found that 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the past four years.

Companies use data to look ahead and track what customers need before the customer knows herself what she needs. With so much information available, are you using it as effectively as you can to grow your business and sales? Continue reading