Why B2B Needs to Get on the Social Media Bandwagon

social media explained, social media donut analogyWhile there is a marked difference between how business-to-consumer tactics relate to business-to-business marketing, sometimes there are lessons that cross over. One recent example in our modern age is how a business can use social media to communicate and inform customers and prospects.

Now, of course we’re not talking about building a fan base geared around the latest microchip to hit the engineering scene. We’re talking about being where the people are—these tools have given marketers new methods of communication that will appeal to a number of different audiences, in the manner in which they chose to obtain their information.

From a customer perspective, you need to be visible in the places they are looking.

The Business Benefit

And from a business perspective, it’s important that a B2B company is the one holding the reigns to harness it’s online brand. (Have you heard the one about the company whose employee claimed its corporate Facebook page…)

The critical component is recognizing the individual uses of each, and how these tools can—or can not—be used effectively to enhance your current marketing program.

One of our favorite infographics still has to be the “Social Media Explained” donut analogy (see image top left)—we wish we could track down the originator and give them a big pat on the back! Or at least buy them a coffee to go with their donut.

What Can Really Be Learned

But in all seriousness, some of these social media sites can be put to productive use in a business environment.

  • Think of Twitter as the latest RSS feed technology, and if you can get editors to retweet your content, you’re on the right track
  • LinkedIn has done a nice job of keeping this professional and credible, with some clients starting to report identifiable sales leads based on news content posted under the company profile
  • Pinterest can serve as an engineer’s design board. All you need to do is post application examples so they can pin it and refer back when a project starts for them.
  • Videos on YouTube, if resources allow, emulate the picture says a thousand words adage. Even short 30-60 second clips are beneficial to clearly stating the benefits of your products or to highlight an application example.
  • As for Facebook, while it definitely paved the road for many a social media tool, it’s still primarily anchored in the consumer realm, but can be effectively used for certain situations. For now, we include it to honor its legacy in building out social media (oh, and it automatically posts to Twitter, so it’s kind of a two birds, one stone type of deal…)

These are just a few ways in which social media tools can be effectively employed by B2B companies. While we don’t recommend allocating a huge part of your annual budget to building out all these tools, it might be time to think about which ones are worth taking a look for the coming year.

Direct Mail as a Modern Marketing Tool

direct marketing, printed marketing, hard copy, promotions, mailWhen digital media started to storm the scene, publishing houses, printing companies and papermakers where shaking in their boots, with good cause. Digital was cheaper, faster and more efficient, a perfect combination in an age of tightening budgets.

But a funny thing has happened over the past decade.

It’s true that many catalogs, datasheets, direct mailers and even ads and magazines have been digitized—available at your prospects’ fingertips with the click of a mouse, but at the end of that chain of cyberspace data are still human recipients. And the question is always, “How do we make them take notice?”

A Digital Deluge

Email now floods inboxes, just as direct mailers used to flood mailboxes. Subject lines are critical to successful open rates, or that same simple one click will land you in the trash folder.

Catalogs and datasheets can be viewed online or printed directly from a company’s website…but you still need to get your prospect there.

Certainly there are low cost online instruments to help in the effort: Google AdWords; SEO integrated into your website, and even some banner ads can effectively source clickthroughs depending on the campaign.   But how else can you make them take notice?

Paper as a Premium?

In some ways, the printed piece has come full circle and can be used to a company’s advantage if done correctly. No longer merely lose in cyberspace, a printed mailer that comes across a prospect’s desk can make them stop and a second look.

The two elements that are critical here are graphic design and content—it still needs to catch your eye and give solid information.

And let’s not forget our options: from a flat 5”x7” mailer or personal letter addressed to prospects up to a die cut piece or a full scale 3D package.

  • Will it take a little more time? Yes.
  • Will it take a little more money? Yes.
  • Will it make your prospect take notice? Absolutely!

Is it right for every campaign…not really. But for your next major product launch, think about how you can shake things up to stand out from the digital crowd. You might just find that everything old is new again.