When I speak about the potential that Social Media has to drive direct bottom line business benefits (eg Increased sales, reduced marketing spend, lower customer service costs etc) I hear that’s fine for B2C but it wont help B2B.
This has caused me to rethink my approach to selling Social Media to Business – I now focus on looking at required outcomes and working back to a Policy, Plan, Platforms (Web Presence) and Processes that will support these outcomes.
It is also interesting to hear from Marketing Mangers that business isn’t Social so what has this Social Media got to do with business, as they rush out the door to a Networking event, or to take a client to lunch or to a Conference in an exotic location!!
Rather than talk about building Facebook Brandpages, LinkedIn profiles and establishing communities it is important to focus on what the business needs and then on how to get there with the new tools and tactics available in Social Media.
The latest research from digital marketing agency White Horse highlights this in showing that while Business-to-business (B2B) companies are embracing social media, they are not yet as engaged as their business-to-consumer (B2C) brethren. This largely due to the internal barriers and beliefs that I alluded to earlier .
While the research indicates that similar numbers of B2B and B2C marketers were not doing any social marketing at all, significant numbers of B2B companies say they had established a social media presence but had done nothing much more.
More than one-third of B2B marketers surveyed said there was little or low senior management interest in social media in their company, compared with only 9% of B2C marketers who said the same. In general whilst taking some steps in the social media space one third of corporate marketers say they need to learn more about social media to justify further investment, while this issue was a major focus for B2B respondents.
Not surprisingly 46% of B2B respondents said social media was perceived as irrelevant to their company, while only 12% of consumer focussed marketers had the same problem. As such it comes as no surprise that B2Bs also reported they still have a much greater preference for traditional marketing tactics.
Perhaps part of the problem for B2Bs in embracing Social Media is an unwillingness or lack of understanding when it comes to measurement. 34% of B2B marketers who said they were not measuring at all, at 34%,while it was just 10% of B2C.
Other studies have shown that B2B marketers are more effective at measurement because they focus on outcomes that matter to their bottom line, such as lead generation.
It is clearly in this area that major opportunities exist for B2B companies by realigning their traditional approach to marketing, sales and service to embrace Social Media. Whether you call it Social CRM, InBound Marketing or Research Based Selling it is clear that there are more effective business development and retention means available to business.
It is certainly well worth reviewing their business model to take a more client focussed approach to developing Interest, Consideration, Trial, Loyalty and Advocacy among their prospects and clients.
Given B2C companies (e.g. JetStar, Ford, Kodak) are now spending 25% – 40% of their marketing dollars on various forms of Social Media and reporting improved bottom line results there must be something in it!!
In my next post I will highlight some of the many B2B success stories.