Social Media Strategy, B2b Social Media

B2B Social Media: 4 Ways to Sell the Value to Management

Guest post by Eric Schwartzman, coauthor of Social Marketing to the Business Customer, the first book devoted exclusively to B2B social media communications. He has been conducting monthly social media training programs since 2006 and works as an independent online communications consultant to businesses, the US Military, government agencies and nonprofits.

5532983826 3524d2696a B2B Social Media: 4 Ways to Sell the Value to Management

When it comes to selling soap, marketing to Facebook’s 500 million members is a no brainer. But when it comes to selling specialized products and services to business customers, the value of B2B social media marketing can be murky to even the most seasoned business-to-business decision makers. How do you know if your market is active in social media? How do you gauge if they’re open to being sold through these channels? And how do you measure success?

These are some of the questions my co-author Paul Gillin and I set out to answer in our new book Social Marketing to the Business Customer. And while I can’t give you everything you’ll get if you buy the book, I can give you some critical, topline tips for how to build a business case that will resonate with managers and clients, even if their social media literacy is somewhat, shall we say, “challenged.”

Follow these four steps and you’ll be on your way to securing the budget and resources you need to get the job done.

Discover Buyer Oriented Keywords – Monitoring the name of company, brand or service is important, but it’s unlikely to generate leads outside of your existing purview. In the book, we show how Paul Dunay of Avaya closed a $250,000 sale by responding to a tweet that said “Time for a new phone system very soon.” In this case, monitoring the phrase “new phone system” resulted in an opportunity. Once you’ve discovered the right phrases to monitor, showing these types of conversations to decision makers is a very compelling way to sell B2B social marketing.

Evaluate Your Competitors, Clients and Suppliers – There is probably no easier way to put a fire under management’s feet than by showing them which of your competitors, clients and suppliers are using social media already. Start by using a free tool like Google Reader to build a social media monitoring dashboard (we give step-by-step instructions in the book) and see how your market is using blogs, Twitter, forums, YouTube, Craigslist, Linkedin and other online networks already to drive commerce. Regardless of how niche you think your segment is, chances are, you’re not going to be the first one.

Position Social Media as an Extension of Existing Efforts – How has the trade media that covers your industry adapted to social media? Are they blogging on their website? Are they tweeting their headlines? Most organizations get the value of trying to land coverage in trade media. If the journalists covering your trade are active in social media, then participating in discussions with them online is really just a path to a stronger relationship and a way to stay top of mind. From this standpoint, commenting on their blog posts and answering their questions on Twitter is really just a more efficient way of conducting mainstream media relations.

Support the Prevailing Corporate Culture – As social marketing gets more mature, and measurement becomes more effortless and easier to grasp, I predict many of today’s old school marketing tactics will ultimately be retired. But for sophisticated B2B marketers reporting to managers with a low-level of social media literacy, that day has not come soon enough. Until it does, marketers should develop strategies conducive to the organization’s existing corporate culture and temperament. If management wants to maintain strict oversight, propose channeling social marketing through marketing or PR. If they’re exploratory and curious, show them how it works by developing a social media policy and increasing social media literacy throughout their ranks. If they already embrace change and are ready to fail fast, learn from their mistakes and get stronger, focus on the ROI from the start so you can maintain and grow your budget allocation over time.

5465776157 1431e460ac B2B Social Media: 4 Ways to Sell the Value to Management

The bad news is that since social media is still relatively new, it gets measured by tougher standards. But the good news is, it’s the most measurable form of media out there. Every view, every click, every transaction is captured, and that data provides better insight into the wants and needs of your customers than ever before.

To build the business case, capture and show your decision makers the byproduct of all that collective sharing. Don’t start by pitching a Linkedin group or a SlideShare channel. Take a step back, and collect evidence of buyer related conversations leading to real purchasing decisions.

Put together a presentation showing who’s on Twitter, who’s blogging, who’s using relevant Linkedin Groups and who’s prospecting on SlideShare. Visit iTunes and see if any of your competitors have released mobile apps to help them connect with new customers and retain existing ones. Paint a picture of how the social web is being used to drive commerce and figure out where the most activity is so you can strike where the iron is hot.

Once you’ve secured the buy-in and resources you need, pick up a copy of Social Marketing to the Business Customer to build a smart strategy and select the social media channels most likely to deliver immediate results.

 

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    “But when it comes to selling specialized products and services to business customers, the value of B2B social media marketing can be murky to even the most seasoned business-to-business decision makers.”

    I’ve been trying to find a succinct way to say that since I joined the online world. I get tied up in trying to explain the complex sales chain that most b2b companies deal with. I try to explain the fact that a lot of distributors carry products from several different companies. But the word “Murky” – you seem to say it all right there.

    I think I’m going to have to buy your book, too.

    Thanks for this post, and thanks, Jay, for hosting it! :)

  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    A big thanks to Jay for allowing Eric to post here. I’ve read the book, and it is definitely worth a read for anyone who works in this space. Too often the advice tossed around is for B2C only.

    • http://bit.ly/bceuf ericschwartzman

      Patrick,

      Thanks so much for your support! If you wouldn’t mind, we’d sure appreciate this post as a review to our Amazon page at http://amzn.to/h7mnkp. It doesn’t have to be more than a sentence.

      Best,

      Eric

      • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

        You bet Eric. I’ll hit Barnes & Noble too.

  • http://twitter.com/philblackmore phil blackmore

    Bullseye!

    • http://bit.ly/bceuf ericschwartzman

      Thanks!

  • Jen Lorenski

    I’ve found that by presenting social media as a small, new tactic (among the tried-and-true) that contributes to a broader strategy, and focusing on the fact that most of it is free (just some of my time), I’ve had success in getting the executives to let us try it. And now that we’ve seen some initial pockets of success, they are much more willing to bless our expansion of efforts. Can’t wait to read the book and get some more ideas…

    • http://bit.ly/bceuf ericschwartzman

      Great point. Interviewed Pete Blackshaw on selling social media to management from the book, and he said the path of least resistance is to position social as an extension of existing activities. Pete was in charge of digital at Nielsen before he joined Nestle as their digital chief last month. Here’s our discussion, if your interested: http://ontherecordpodcast.com/pr/otro/selling-social-media.aspx

  • http://www.twitter.com/c_pappas Christina Pappas

    I have said it a lot but I will say it again: better to ask for forgiveness than permission. I was working at a company whow as adamantly opposed to social media. The very thought of having a following on Twitter or launching a Facebook page was so crazy to them. They didnt see the value. Even after showing how our competitors were using it and even proving that our customers were on these networks, they didnt budge. So I set out to disprove their theory. I participated on LinkedIn first and grew our inbound traffic from the site month over month. LinkedIn was also the 2nd largest source for inbound leads and had the highest conversion. After showing them this data, they told me to keep doing whatever it was that I was doing but they were still scared of other social networks. I ended up leaving the company and not sure where they stand today but sometimes you can lead a horse to water but ….

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    Great post. Its good investing in Social media. Social Media platform is ideal for different uses and should therefore have a customized strategy. Due to the rapid rise in popularity and relevancy many online marketing companies now offer Social Media Marketing and strategy development services which are paramount to the success of Social Media as a viable marketing channel.We are doing Virtual office assistant services to small business owners and we have started our social media marketing too so that we can get more clients whom we can provide our service.

  • Anonymous

    This is a great book, and well timed as social media starts to gain full traction in B2B marketing. I feel lucky to have got an early preview of the content as we prepared for our webinar with you and Paul.

    For readers that may be interested, here is the webinar playback – B2B Social Media with Eric Schwartzman and Paul Gillin: http://www.marketo.com/b2b-marketing-resources/best-practices/video-social-media/social-media-for-business-marketers.php

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com jaybaer

      Thanks Andrew. I appreciate the link.

  • http://twitter.com/allanschoenberg Allan Schoenberg

    Another well done post Jay and you’ve hit four key things we’ve been doing for nearly four years now at the exchange. In particular, your points on making it an extension as well as part of the corporate culture are key. I enjoyed being interviewed by Paul Gillin for this book as well and for too long B2B social media was ignored. One bullet I would add to the above is to showcase “real customer” wins. We’ve been successful at CME Group because early on we could demonstrate the actions our customers were taking as a result of engaging with us on social media. Showing how these new resources actually connect sales people to customers and how customers use the information we give them really helped put into perspective how useful (and powerful) social media was working for us.

  • http://twitter.com/allanschoenberg Allan Schoenberg

    Eric great post (Jay, good call having Eric take over your blog for the day). All of these points are spot on and I think I went over each of these in some way when I spoke with Paul Gillin for the book. I particularly think that the last two — using social media to extend the brand and supporting the culture are critical. One thing I would add Eric is that B2B communicators need to showcase wins from social media. Every time I engage with a customer in a unique way that either results in having them be a third-party referencer for us or trade more products I make sure management knows about this. The most we can leverage these success stories the more “real” social media becomes to leadership.

  • http://twitter.com/allanschoenberg Allan Schoenberg

    Eric great post (Jay, good call having Eric take over your blog for the day). All of these points are spot on and I think I went over each of these in some way when I spoke with Paul Gillin for the book. I particularly think that the last two — using social media to extend the brand and supporting the culture are critical. One thing I would add Eric is that B2B communicators need to showcase wins from social media. Every time I engage with a customer in a unique way that either results in having them be a third-party referencer for us or trade more products I make sure management knows about this. The most we can leverage these success stories the more “real” social media becomes to leadership.

  • http://twitter.com/allanschoenberg Allan Schoenberg

    Eric great post (Jay, good call having Eric take over your blog for the day). All of these points are spot on and I think I went over each of these in some way when I spoke with Paul Gillin for the book. I particularly think that the last two — using social media to extend the brand and supporting the culture are critical. One thing I would add Eric is that B2B communicators need to showcase wins from social media. Every time I engage with a customer in a unique way that either results in having them be a third-party referencer for us or trade more products I make sure management knows about this. The most we can leverage these success stories the more “real” social media becomes to leadership.

  • http://twitter.com/b2bforhumans Marcus Schaller

    Great points Eric.

    Late adopters aren’t impressed with our “but it’s so cool!” arguments, and in fact are probably turned off by social marketers’ unbridled enthusiasm. But giving them a birds eye view of the big picture, and demonstrating how their industry is already using the tools to capture market share, is putting social marketing into terms they understand and care about.

    Looking forward to reading the book.

  • letstalkandchat

    If you’re looking for webinar software, then check out Evergreen Business System. Its perfect for marketers and let’s you automate the scheduling of your webinars, build your list, and even follow up with your webinar registrants. If you’re going to buy Evergreen Business System, then you might as well get a free bonus! So check out http://www.mikelmurphy.com/evergreen-business-system-bonus-webinar-software/ and you’ll get a great bonus that tells you how to create a webinar, what is a webinar, and a blueprint for making a successful one. None of the other people offering bonuses are offering this. Hurry in case the guy (some dude that worked on Lord of the RIngs) offering the bonus decides to pull it down.