I was having lunch with an out-of town business friend. We met years ago when we were doing B2B marketing for competing technology companies. That I ripped a humongous chunk of market share away from him “way back when” was never a negative in our friendship.
He’s now working for a company doing extraordinary things in Big Data visualization for a niche industry. “We’re planning on ramping up our social media activities,” he mentioned. “If we do, we could probably use a little help down the road.”
My curiosity piqued, I asked a few questions about what his company was doing at present and what he hoped to accomplish with social media. We tossed around a few ideas before he had to dash to catch a plane home.
When I got back to my office, three bits of advice I offered echoed in my head. Though these tactics may not be the top three to consider for social media marketing, they are core elements for successful B2B marketing across linear and digital platforms, as well as social.
B2B Marketing Strategy #1 — Listen to What Your Customers are Saying at Recess
When you’re making a sales pitch, you’re the teacher in the classroom. When you’re engaging on social media platforms, you’re hanging out in the schoolyard.
I suspect you’ve heard many times that you can’t just talk about yourself. In many ways, it’s easier to uncover issues, events, concerns and breakthroughs of common interest to B2B audiences than for B2C.
You use this information to inform everything from your brand image to your product development. Why not talk about it with your customers?
B2B Marketing Strategy #2 — Don’t Just Curate, Variegate
Content marketing is a powerful, cross-platform technique to differentiate your brand from your competition. But generating a continuous stream — or even a trickle — of fresh, relevant content can be a burden for many companies. So they may curate content created by others.
That’s not a bad tactic if executed well. Executed poorly, though, it’s like serving reheated carryout to dinner guests you hope to impress.
Here are a few guidelines for your content marketing using social and other channels:
Your content marketing is a reflection of your brand and your products. If your presentations are stale, you could leave the impression that your products are also-rans. Listen to your customers for ideas and be certain a noticeable chunk of your content marketing is fresh and original.
When curating content, assume what you’re presenting will not be received as “news.” Help your customers analyze, connect the dots and understand how the story relates to them. Offer them thought leadership rather than breaking headlines.
B2B Marketing Strategy #3 — Don’t Dilute, Concentrate
My friend mentioned that his company had a large and active LinkedIn group. Bingo! This was a positive indicator of his company’s ability to attract and engage.
The wrong tack is to attempt to replicate this success on other platforms. It’s best to throw more logs on a fire that’s already burning. On LinkedIn, for example, engage meaningfully with updates posted by members of your community and look for other groups to which your brand can make a valuable contribution.
While not compromising your evaluation of other, relevant platforms, assess using those platforms to guide your audience to places where your brand is already engaged with their peers.
Connect your activities among the various platforms without trying to push your customers from one to another. A Google Hangout can be followed up with a YouTube video, as well as, for example, a presentation posted on SlideShare.
Keep your content available across a handful of carefully chosen platforms, then hone in on the one or two platforms where you’re getting the most traction.
A Common Thread for B2B Marketing
Except when marketing to the smallest of the small SMBs, B2B marketing has always involved conversing with multiple stakeholders in the purchasing decision process. By properly applying social media to your marketing mix, you can enhance your engagement to build long-term relationships and sales.
I introduced this post as having far from a complete list of B2B social media marketing strategies. What would you add?