I recently came a across a blog by Chad Levitt who likened the changing approach to marketing and sales, esp in B2B, to herding cats when we are used to herding cattle. Chad Levitt is the author of the New Sales Economy blog that focuses on how sales 2.0, social, and inbound marketing can be used as a sales strategy for the Web 2.0 world.
As Chad says “The first thing about herding cats is….. “don’t let anybody tell you it’s easy!” If you’ve ever tried to herd a cat you know it’s damn hard. And anyone can herd cattle — they are slow, stodgy, and like to be told what to do. Cats are nimble, quick, and verrrrry hard to corner – so are our customers today. The parallel is that the majority of sales and marketing organizations are still trying to herd cattle, when the marketplace has changed to herding cats.”
I certainly think herding cats makes a very good analogy for the B2B marketplace today.
A key ingredient in herding cats is to supply the food they are seeking and this comes in the form of useful information… blogs, videos etc.
For some time I have been concerned that the people at the fuzzy end of business (PR, Marketing) believe they should control Social Media because it is about Communication. But given they are the masters (along with Advertising) of one-way communication why should they?
Traditionally in business the best listeners and builders of dialogue are in Sales and Customer Service. While Marketing defines the what and who of sales it is the seller and the after sales servicer that pick up the How … so who better equipped to understand what the market really expects of a business.
And then there are the internal “cats” how can they be harnessed to support the marketing efforts. Well that’s where HR comes in to develop and define policies on the internal and external use of Social Media. There are heaps of potential brand advocates within a business but they need to be told what they can and cant say. An Outcomes focussed policy that encourages the use of Social Media can enable this rather than inhibit it!
So right now we have ”cats” everywhere looking for “food” from business but very few are producing the right “food” as they are leaving the “food” production to the wrong people. PR/Marketing traditionally sow the crops and hope for a good season or two…. While it is Sales and Service who are responsible for the harvesting and bear the brunt when a bad season comes along or PR/Marketing has decided to sow the wrong crop.
To try to fathom the best approach to implementing a good approach to Social media in business I recently ran a poll in LinkedIn asking:
Who should “own” responsibility for Social Media In Business environment? Who is best to Listen, Converse, Engage and Convert?
The somewhat surprising result given most of my LinkedIn connections are in PR and Marketing was the formation of a new cross functionality entity.
For more details on the poll http://polls.linkedin.com/poll-results/90949/uuhos
What do you think? How should such an approach be implemented?
In the meantime I will keep my focus on driving Social Media by focussing on Sales outcomes not just building Communities and Conversations.