Not so long ago every company rushed to publish its own website, then sat back and waited for potential customers to visit it. Most even installed counters to keep up with the number of visits/viewings. With the exponential explosion of social media over the past decade, though, these same companies have increasingly felt the need to find new ways to “point” customers, both other businesses and consumers, to their website. It was an easy leap in logic to use the new phenomena of social media.
It’s become generally accepted that social media channels provide an excellent path for businesses to reach out to consumers. What’s becoming even more clear is that the lines between B2C and B2B are being continually blurred. What works for B2C markets often works for B2B markets, and vice versa.
The truth is that as businesses have become more present and active on social media, the utility of those networks for B2B and B2C marketing has grown in parallel. Three of the largest media channels are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Taken at face value, Facebook appears to be much more suited for consumer communications than for B2B or B2C. But almost every consumer is in some way connected to a business, and Facebook has over 900 million active users. Somewhere in that crowd you will find your target customer.
Many of the large companies whose names or symbols are household words have their own page or pages on Facebook. Don’t make the mistake of thinking only the GE’s and Intel’s of the business world have figured out that Facebook is the way to get the word out about their company, though. Companies like Blue Coat use Facebook to reach out to those consumers and other businesses that would ordinarily never find them. This is an example of a business whose product is increasingly in demand by both other business entities and individual consumers as well.
The power of Twitter shouldn’t be discounted as a B2B and B2C communication platform. Just because it’s a fast-paced, character-limited communication channel should not prevent you from making consistent, repeated impressions on your business’s followers. Plus, the power of re-tweeting multiplies engagement of potential clients geometrically.
A business that has already included Twitter as one of its growth engines is Constant Contact. Their customer base is made up of small businesses looking to build their own brands using email newsletters, surveys, events, promotions, online listings, and more. Constant Contact’s Twitter page clearly defines its brand, points users back to its website and Facebook page, and publishes helpful information for its small business customers. In addition, Constant Contact has a separate, dedicated Twitter page for customer questions and support.
Instagram is barely 5 years. It already has over 300 million monthly active users. Don’t think of it as an amateur photo gallery, either. Instagram is full of short videos, and 40% of the most shared videos are posted by brands. Videos are a great way of showcasing what your company does. You’re already using YouTube, right? Just post snippets of content you already have and point viewers followers to the longer versions.
One of the best Instagram examples to emulate is MailChimp. Their posts are always fun, maybe even frivolous. They use bright colors to make their branding stick, and they work to convince you that they’re a cool company. They manage to stretch their new product launches over a string of updates, using splashy color to make their brand stand out. They come across as fun and helpful. Getting your email marketing right while having fun doing it is their message.
Businesses are populated by employees who are themselves consumers. Impressions made on employees while at work are necessarily delivered to consumers simultaneously. B2B is not, then, limited to businesses; it’s already B2C, whether intentionally so or not. Using social media platforms leverages both.
For many retailers and service providers, the natural growth of your business often includes transitioning from solely business-to-consumer sales and into business-to-business. The business-to-business marketing world has changed over the last few years. A Demand Gen report found that 67 percent of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make purchasing decisions than they did a year ago. Succeeding in B2B sales requires your organization to adopt different tactics and new strategies to reach this new demographic. As such, here’s a look at several ways you can make the transition into B2B and succeed.
Marketing to businesses requires different methods than one would use to market to consumers. Creating content that is valuable, relevant and consistent should be a key focus of your marketing strategy, but the type of content you create is different when you are dealing with businesses. The sales cycle is longer with businesses than it is with consumers, and many people are part of the decision to buy, which means your content should focus on educating your potential clientele.
While nothing beats a live one-on-one conversation, webinars can be just as compelling and educational for your customers. Webinars are not sales pitches for your product or service, but a seminar about your industry that shows the relevancy of your company within it. Share your upcoming webinar on social media and register emails from your audience members. You’ll have the leads you need, but remember to curb your expectations about attendance. Convince and Convert points out that half of those scheduled to attend won’t. If you record and offer your webinars on your website, you can offer downloads and get a second wave of leads from a single piece of content.
Social media is still the leading tactic among B2B marketers, and a study by the Content Marketing Institute shows that 92 percent of B2B use non-blog social media to reach potential clients. Your goal with social media to be seen by the businesses you will eventually be reaching out to, but simply having people see your company is valueless in the abstract. You need to create quantifiable interaction or your web presence will vanish when your social media marketing budget runs out. Good social media marketing is about immediate interaction, and companies like LifeLock are excellent examples of how your social media can serve as a marketing tool and customer resource. Businesses turn to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as a means of staying up to date with industry trends, and you can position your brand as a source of this information and create loyal followers that will translate into professional relationships easily.
Selling to businesses is different than selling to consumers, and all the marketing in the world won’t matter if your sales team is treating your business clients like individual consumers. Sales teams can often be left to their own devices to create their own content, but when dealing with businesses you must be sure your sales machine runs perfectly. Make sure your sales team has an updated brand bible that outlines how they will present your brand to other businesses.