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.

December 14, 2014

Email Marketing as Easy as Webmail

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Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamFor more than a decade, guys I respect like Chris Brogan, John Hlinko, Nicco Mele, CC Chapman, and Christopher Penn have been a broken record when it comes down to brass tacks: cultivating an email list is the only real reason to do social media marketing, content marketing, inbound marketing, guest blogging, or column-writing. I take that back, selling and making money is the only reason, at the end of the day, but just ask anyone in the world of fundraising, ecommerce, and sales the true value, in dollars, of a fresh, segmented, double-opt-in, targeted list, per subscriber, and I bet you’ll pop your wig (upwards of $3+ per-record for really desirable lists). Continue reading

September 3, 2014

Don’t believe what Google tells you about search

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Photo by Alan Cleaver on Flickr (CC BY)

How has Google misled us? Let us count the ways!

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

Chris AbrahamIf you’ve been listening to Google of late, you’ve heard their spokespersons’ declarations that you should go merrily on your way producing content for your followers while making no attempts to improve your search rankings through explicit means. Focus on what you do best and ignore all that voodoo SEO stuff.

Well.

I’ll probably get some blowback for this, but it’s time to call out Google for its — how shall I put this? — sleight of hand, half-truths and tendency to lie about this.

The following list of Google mistruths have some exceptions and caveats. And, Google does make examples of bad actors, which is all to the good.

But for the vast majority of us Web publishers, bloggers and businesses who just want to create content and have it read, you should frankly ignore what Google has been telling you about backlinks not mattering anymore, SEO not mattering anymore and other misdirections.

Let’s do a rundown of which SEO elements actually still work

How has Google misled us? Let us count the ways! (I’ll list my bona fides below, and I have my own caveat: Google hasn’t said that none of the following is important, but let’s run through all of these SEO elements one by one.) Continue reading

May 12, 2014

Enlist the power of the crowd for your next live event

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How to leverage your audience’s Instagrams, tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, Tumbls & G+s

Target audience: Marketing professionals, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, SEO specialists, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

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Chris AbrahamIcan’t believe you’re still hiring professional photographers with expensive DSLRs who shoot your events live but time-delay the results by days and weeks. Yes, I am looking at you!

I am not saying you shouldn’t hire a professional team for posterity, the annual reports, and your organization’s archive. But why are you time-delaying your fundraisers, events, conferences, gatherings, jamborees, and rally by hours, days, and weeks when you have all the cheap-and-accessible tools all around you to take dozens of “good enough” images real-time, allowing hundreds, thousands, and millions of friends, family, fans, and potential donors, clients, customers, attendees, and members to get a selective and well-curated peek into all the cool stuff you do every day, as it happens, live, en masse, over the course of the entire event, instead of only the tightly-edited album you may only share with your current friends and family, all in one dump, at one moment, well after the event is far in the rear view mirror? Continue reading

April 7, 2014

How to engage bloggers down the long tail

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Target audience: Marketing professionals, PR pros, brand managers, SEO specialists, businesses.

OMVS14Chris AbrahamIt’s essential for brands to have access to and a relationship with their current customers and clients as well with their fans, natural allies, their topical neighborhood, and their prospective and future clients. In a post-Internet world, this is best handled online, for efficiency’s sake.

Continue reading