B2B is generally considered the unglamorous sector of marketing, being dominated by PR, DM, telesales (“want to buy some ink cartridges”) and those tedious trade magazine ads.
Today, customers demand more in-depth information about a company to help them make better business decisions. Instead of relying on advertising or PR, they’re turning to social networks, blogs, independent media sites, colleagues and even to the companies themselves.
Online social media networking is providing B2B marketers with the means to publish useful and relevant content about themselves on sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. It’s not just consumer brands that are benefiting, as many professionals use these sites to keep in touch with their peers and industry thought leaders.
A Sample B2B Marketing Idea
Many people ask me how can a B2B marketer employ social media to complement their other marketing activities. I thought I’d share a sample idea to demonstrate how an integrated media approach can work.
- Send existing customers a personal invitation to attend a regular seminar your company runs at a good quality CBD hotel. Obtain a mailing list of prospects and send them an invite too. Run an advertisement in your trade media inviting people to attend. Promote the seminars in your e-newsletter, web site, via sales reps and in all other marketing materials (brochure, flyer, poster, etc.).
- Select guest speakers who are leaders in your industry, to talk about news, trends, events, etc. that are of interest to your audience. A person from your company must also speak , to help establish a ‘personality’ for your company and to promote your products and services. This could be a senior executive from here or overseas, or one of the R&D folk who can ‘see’ the future.
Social Media Strategy
Set up a company Twitter account to specifically support the seminars.
- Invite all customers/prospects/partners/etc. to ‘Follow’ you
- Promote upcoming seminars; venue, time, speakers
- Get feedback on topics that people would like covered in future seminars
- Post links to bios of speakers
- During each seminar, get an employee to post live comments about the points a speaker is making
- Questions for speakers can be asked by Followers, so they can be asked of the speaker and answered in a reply post
- Take photos at the seminar, upload directly to Twitpic
- Post comments about industry issues, news, links to relevant articles, etc.
A company YouTube channel will extend the audience ‘reach’ of the seminar series.
- Video of each speaker can be posted (maybe edited highlights) that registered users can view (BTW those registered users are new business prospects if they’re not already a client)
- Subscribers to your YT channel receive an email when new videos are posted
- A history of seminar presentations is stored and accessible for easy future reference
- A YT channel helps your SEM as it increases your company’s online presence
A Company Blog
The topics covered in the seminars can be expanded upon in a company blog.
- Ask speakers to write a guest post to complement their speech
- Use the blog to get people commenting on the issues being discussed, and shift the discussion to linked topics
- Subscribers to your blog may become new business prospects
Public and Media Relations
The seminar series offers many PR/MR opportunities.
- Invite key journalists to attend
- Arrange press briefings after each seminar
- Send press announcements about new products and services to journalists and link them back to the seminar content on Twitter, YouTube, etc.
- Arrange for a regular article to be written for a suitable newspaper or magazine, that is leveraged off the content from the last seminar
Basing a marketing strategy around seminars can achieve two primary goals:
- The face-to-face time with customers and prospects enables you differentiate yourself, to assist your customers improve their business, and to create sales opportunities that would otherwise not be possible through traditional sales and marketing tactics.
- Seminars create customised content that can be republished across many online and offline media, including your website, brochure and e-newsletter, plus online networks such as Twitter and YouTube.
The sample plan described above is a basic approach to demonstrate how social media can be integrated into B2B marketing plans. The most critical take-out is that a company can create it’s own content for online publishing. After all, content is king.
Do you know any good working examples of B2B marketing and social media? If so I’d love to hear from you; pls post a comment below.