B2B LinksIn for Relationships and Sales

With the continual growth – 1 new member every second of every day – and the accuracy of its info its not surprising LinkedIn is becoming prime real estate for B2B Sales prospecting.

According to US research from OneSource, the use of LinkedIn for B2B sales prospecting has increased by 47.8% since last year,

And of course it not just LinkedIn around 20 percent of those polled planned on increasing their use of  blogs, Facebook and Twitter for prospecting purposes.

However, still the overall majority still do not use social media for prospecting.

The most popular approach for gaining qualified leads remains outbound prospecting (cold calling), which was rated 3.7 out of five for effectiveness, followed by the company website (2.9), inbound calls (2.6) (waiting for the phone to ring), email campaigns (2.6), shows & events (2.5), social networking (2.1) , direct mail (2.1)  and webinars (1.8).

It seems that still the majority of sales people in B2B sales, in particular, still think that at best Social Media is for B2B sales …. or even worse it is of no value in sales at all.

While other research suggests that it is time to re-evaluate this thinking – Early this year Hubspot research showed that 45% of US companies who have used LinkedIn for marketing had acquired a customer through the site. Company blogs were considered effective for 43% of respondents, while Twitter for 38%  and Facebook for 33%.

Social Media is The New Relationship Selling because it is all about listening and understanding what the market/prospect needs.  It is old-fashioned business and that is how good sales people have always operated.  Building rapport, relationships and listening for problems for which they have a solution.

LinkedIn is the place to find B2B prospects and build relationships, Blogs are the where you can build Credibility, while Twitter and Facebook are great places to let people know who you are and what you do.

If I offered to supply a sales person with unlimited free access to a database with 65 million professionals from over 120 professions and almost every country on earth, who are largely tertiary educated and have household incomes of $100,00o plus and aged in main 30 – 50 they would jump at it….

Well I am … its called LinkedIn!!

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Are you LinkedIn or just in LinkedIn

LinkedinSmurfsWhen I first discovered LinkedIn  and subsequently joined I was aware of the basics and not much more.

But in the past couple of years I have used it extensively and gained some great benefits.  Of all the social media/networking we use for ourselves and our clients LinkedIn has delivered the best tangible results.

We have made some great industry connections locally and internationally and as a result we have developed some major international business opportunities.

When I first started I really used it sparingly just to find people I knew and Linked to them never thinking that I actually had a development opportunity/responsibility in growing the potential power of LinkedIn.

So now I have invited everyone in my address book to join (something I felt uncomfortable doing initially) so that they can share in the value and I also tell everyone I meet in business I will invite them to join and why … and do so as soon as I get back to the office.

But it seems most of these people are not sold on it.  So often I see profiles that are basic token efforts with no more info … why would I be interested in that person?  Then there are the people I do know and invite to join a group or become more involved by sending them a message and then never get a response.

Either they have never gone back in since joining or they dont have their LinkedIn email alert on to notify them they have a message.

There are a few basics that can provide great value (such as logging into LinkedIn each morning and check your updates)  but it seems these days with so much going on unless people are shown “hands on” how to use some of the new tools they never get past first base … if they even get that far….. and never realise the possibilities!

So I wonder of the 50 million plus in LinkedIn how many are token members.  It would be great to get some stats based on the % complete  indicator one day.

In the meantime I will do my best to get more people I know more engaged … because I think it could be good for thema dn their business/professional lives.

Marketing on Social Networks: Branding, Buying and Beyond.

A tool for every purpose

Though social network advertising gets a lot of attention, it is only one of many ways marketers can reach customers on social networks. Social networks can be used for branding, improving customer loyalty, lead generation, direct marketing and e-commerce.

“The beauty of social networks is that they are a place where nearly any marketing goal can be achieved, with nearly any marketing tactic,” said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “Marketing on Social Networks: Branding, Buying and Beyond.”

Common wisdom over the past few years has been that people are interested in interacting with social network friends, not marketers. Not so, according to Anderson Analytics’ May 2009 survey—52% of social network users had become a fan or follower of a company or brand, while 46% had said something good about a brand or company on a social networking Website—double the percentage who had said something negative (23%).

Social Networking Site Activities of US Social Network Users, May 2009 (% of respondents)

In a December 2008 MarketingSherpa survey of social media marketing professionals, 92% of respondents said social media marketing was effective at influencing brand reputation and 91% said it worked for increasing brand awareness. These executives found it far less effective for generating sales leads or increasing online sales.

US Social Media Marketing Professionals Who Believe Social Media Marketing Is an Effective Branding Strategy, December 2008 (% of respondents)

However, savvy marketers are demonstrating the effectiveness of using social networks for direct marketing and lead generation as well. Brand pages and applications can be vehicles to deliver coupons and offers to consumers to drive trials, store traffic and response. A July 2009 Starbucks promotion, for example, distributed coupons for a free pastry via Facebook and other social outlets. The chain was soon one of the top trending topics on Twitter and the top brand on Facebook, with more than 3.7 million fans.

In terms of e-commerce, few retailers are currently selling products directly through social networks. But the pending launch of Facebook’s virtual currency will make it far more appealing for this purpose. Meanwhile, e-tailers can take advantage of services such as Facebook Connect to allow users to share information about their browsing and purchasing activity on an e-commerce site with their social network friends.

Measuring social media success remains difficult for marketers. Many of the metrics that marketers can track on social networks today involve what is called “soft ROI”—which does not show up in the bottom line. But a study from the Altimeter Group and Wetpaint, along with a separate study from Razorfish, indicates that the stronger a brand’s social media presence, the better the brand performed—whether measured in conversations or in financial performance.

“Social networks are a constantly changing database of consumer sentiment, attitudes and information, and marketers today have only the earliest glimpse of the potential,” said Ms. Williamson. “Companies that want to maximize their presence on the social Web must take advantage of social networks in all stages of the purchase funnel, from awareness to learning to buying to loyalty.”

Maximize your social network marketing. Download the new eMarketer report, “Marketing on Social Networks: Branding, Buying and Beyond,” now.

Thats What l’m Talking About!

KodakAfter reading about Kodak’s recent decision to drop its iconic Kodachrome range I decided to see what else they were doing.

Of interest to me was what they were doing to re-invent themselves and how, if at all, were they utilising Social Media Marketing.

And what I found was a story that summed up, in a practical manner, the message of the Grumpy Old Managers Guide.

Surely with the uptake of digital photography a company that was a world leader in providing film products to consumers was headed for the scrapheap. But in five years it has gone from being a consumer business to a B2B business. About 70% of their business is now direct to business not consumers so maybe they don’t need Social Media.

The most amazing statistic I found was that 60% of their currently most successful product lines did not exist two years ago. This is a company that is seriously re-inventing and rejuvenating itself.

So when I saw the headline “Micro-blog big for Kodak” in The Media section of The Australian above a story by Simon Canning I was eager to read all about it.

It seems Kodak’s Global Chief of Marketing, Jeffrey Hayzlett, is a classic example of what we are talking about … He started using Twitter to stay in touch with his kids and now has become one of the most followed business execs in the world on Twitter.

He has over 6,000 followers around the world, many of them are Kodak employees.

Hayzlett says he started using Twitter and Facebook as a way to link to his family, “Then I had this other family of Kodak customers and employees, then I started getting media and pundits, then everyone else started following after that.”

He says Twitter fits Kodak’s social media policy which he describes as the “Four Es”.

“We want to engage first of all, we we want to educate, then we want to excite and then we want to evangelise,” he says.

Social networks have now become so important to Kodak that they now have a full time “listener”.

So Social Media is playing a vital role for Kodak in listening and learning as they rebuild and refocus around market needs, demands and expectations.

He goes on to say Twitter etc is jut another form of communication that is very relevant right now…. as was the Fax once upon a time. “Maybe it will stand the test of time, but no one has stopped the most effective tool and that’s a sit down one-on-one,” he says.

So all in all Jeffrey Hayzlett sums up what we are talking about to anyone who will listen – start using the tools in a non business sense to work out how they work and then look at how they might apply. But at the end of the day they are just an addition to the tools that are already in use to communicate…. and right now they are very effective at that, as Kodak proves.

Justifying Social Networking/Media

social-media-seo1

I am continually encouraging my clients to embrace Social Networking and Social Media to grow their business and increase income.

Generally they ignore me or they begrudgingly go along with it. Yesterday one of my clients, who I also consider a close friend and confidant questioned my whole approach here.

Below is his email (in italics) with some comments from me where appropriate. I will formulate my response soon but in the meantime appreciate any further comments as usual

I have spent the last 3 days to do an analytical study of all these so called social networking sites including yours (no offense, it is constructive)

  1. I find these sites excessively boring
  2. We do not really learn anything from (back)ground matters.
  3. I do not like the way knowledge is introduced, explained and displayed, through the likes and dislikes of people we only know (in the best case) superficially.
  4. In most of the case, information is embedded from other sites, not much creativity.
  5. Information displays is far away from being welcoming or user friendly.

Therefore my questions are:

  1. Why do we need to follow a trend that up to now has not proved itself to be better than the previous ones?
  2. Why do we have the need to wait for people to transmit our message to other people instead of transmitting directly ourselves?
  3. From my education, the best communication is the shortest one, the most straight forward one. I have not seen anything like this in all this survey.

Few specific questions:

  1. What did all this social networking manage to bring to you in terms of contact, finance, income?
  2. I have been talking to different people in Europe and Asia about twitter/ bebo, stumble…. And they guaranteed me no business people were using it for strategic decisions and they are very prudent about taking connections fro these sites for business purposes. Except for linkedIn, which I have experienced myself on a very positive way, because it s coming from another perspective.
  3. Linkedin perspective is much more straight forward tha all the rest, much more professional and without the fun the others are associated with.

All this to finally explain that I am not very persuaded by all the goodness these sites appear to bring….
For your information, I have been conducting a forum, highly indexed by SE robots  but it has showed real success, real interest and brought me in money.  I have had this since 2000.

I have pointed out that a Blog is a public version of the forum which also helps with SEO if immbedded in the site ..Rick

Conclusions

  1. I believe al these social networking sites are good to build trends fast!
  2. I believe the traditional SEO is still working well for representing business and corporate activities.

Smoke or Surf

smokers

For some time I have debated with many clients their policies of banning access to Social Networks and Media Sites at work.

They are happy for their people to Smoke breaks – which waste time and lead to more ill health and lost time.  They don’t insist on other healthy practices (exercise, drinking water etc ..) to avoid illness… but they ban Facebook.

Probably becasuse they dont get it!!!

Now there is a term for it “workplace Internet leisure browsing,” (WILB) and evidence that it is good for productivity

Now a recent University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not

Study author Brent Coker, from the department of management and marketing, said on the University’s website WILB, helped to improve’ concentration.

“People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration,”

“Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days’ work, and as a result, increased productivity,” he said.

They studied the habits  of 300 workers, and found that 70 percent of people who use the Internet at work engage in WILB.

As expected they were searching for information about products, reading online news sites, playing online games and watching videos on YouTube.

So whilst companies are spending money blocking access or implementing bans they may be missing productivity and they are certainly missing the opportunity for their people to develop Social Networking and Media skills that can benefit the business in mnay ways.

There is a possible downside though as Mr C said “Those who behave with Internet addiction tendencies will have a lower productivity than those without,” .

So I will now send to my clients another email .. this time backed by research … but I am sure once again deaf ears will prevail.