Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Happy Ever After..even in B2B

A recent Forrester study that remarks on how B2B marketers and their customers are more likely to engage in Social Media activities. But what's the point? In the consumer world we might very well engage in Social Media activities purely because we are social creatures and we want to express ourselves and share the fact that we put on mismatched socks this morning..it's part of our makeup.

But as B2B customers, this engagement is usually as a result of a need to learn, understand and ultimately buy something. I know that’s it all about the person (in fact this afternoon I took part in a tweetup featuring @chrisbrogan courtesy of the Next Generation Marketing Conference (#b2beu), where Chris expressed his belief that it was all about people and relationships) but at the end of the day it's not ALL about the conversation, it is actually about the conversion - it's just that a little conversation helps

As marketers, we need to understand this and with that in mind, surely it’s obvious that we need to be setting ourselves marketing objectives that align to customer wants and hence our business needs. And yet we often go blindly into Social Media because the marketing agency has it on their agenda

So how do we stop, in a B2B environment, from crashing in where we are not invited?

I've often spoken about the idea of Listening before even Thinking about Speaking with our customers - and of course this is true for Social Media. We have to begin to understand where our customers and prospects are gathering, what they are talking about in these communities, and how they want to be engaged by us..the marketers.

But what should we talk about?

To keep things simple, we should focus on 3 areas

Customer: Context: Commercial


At the heart of all our conversations is the customer (or rather should be the customer..it often isn’t). We need to ensure that we use everything we know about them, their needs and preferences to tailor the message. And let’s not forget that in a B2B environment we may have a complex Decision Making Unit to consider with different priorities and requirements.

But the message also needs to take into account Context. And by context I mean what happening in their world at a macro level (Political, Legal, Financial) and at a more granular level (at what stage are they in the buying process for example)

Usually the content that takes the driving seat our own Commercial priorities. Of course we have to take these into account, but by considering the Customer and their Context first, we should be able to talk about our objectives with a little more relevance

It is all about using Data and Insight to tell a story just as in B2C, something that I know is being recognized at events such Next Generation Marketing in December

Let’s hope that every single tailored story ends happily ever after…with a conversion!

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