As more and more businesses get a handle on social media and social media tools, it is interesting to sit back and realize what the ‘social media revolution’ has done for marketing our companies in the past few years. The changes have been drastic and rapid. For some it is a welcome change and others are still uncomfortable and resisting the shift in how customers are looking for products and services.
As consumers and companies are searching for a B2B solution, a majority of their research is done online. They search Google, read blogs, reviews and interact with their online network looking for the information they need. As B2B businesses, our job is to a) be found when they are looking and b) provide information that lowers their risk and addresses their pain-points so they realize they should do business with us.
As the social media revolution charges on, here are four major points on how all of this has changed how we market our businesses.
Re-learning how we do things and have always done things – Social media has taught us how to question the way many of us have marketed ourselves in the past. Social media provides almost instant feedback to our content. We can hear firsthand what things people relate to and what things they do not. We can assess this data and react to it.
Marketing can be done effectively from inside an organization – With advances in technology and the way people communicate, we as businesses have regained some control over our own marketing. Marketing no longer means a perfect brochure, a polished press release, static website or an outsourced television spot. Marketing means interacting in real time with your network online with your blog, posts, updates, tweets, eBooks, podcasts, online videos and more. All of which can be produced in-house if you have the appropriate skills and tools.
With power comes risk – With regaining power over our own marketing comes more risk and responsibility. If your business is going to take over a good portion of its marketing, you need to be prepared for this changing landscape. If you are depending on more online marketing with your company blog, Twitter account or Facebook page, then you need to carefully consider all of the content, comments and reactions to that content. If your employees are going to help you market your business with social media, you need to lower your risk by properly educating them on how you want these tools used and the risks associated with them. This education could be done in conversation, with social media seminars and workshops, or a full review of your companies’ policy on social media use.
Education and Customer Service is Marketing – Marketing comes in many different forms. As we discussed above, it isn’t so much a polished message but it can be lots of different things. Marketing can now be more about educating potential customers or using social media for customer service than about the carefully crafted message. Listening and responding to users needs is much more powerful than the best crafted marketing message.
These points are just scratching the surface on what social media and social technology has done for B2B marketing. I think as the social media landscape matures, we will see even more advances in how we market our companies, show return for our online efforts and help us connect with new potential customers. What other fundamental changes have you seen in your marketing landscape due to the new ways your customers are looking for information?