When it comes to B2B marketing—whether it be social media, email marketing, blogs, white papers or attending trade shows—it has to be about lead generation.
Not that there isn’t branding and awareness value in these projects. It’s great when content shows up in one of our prospect's Twitter feed because of a targeted hashtag.
But branding and awareness is really a more successful strategy for B2C companies where top-of-mind awareness is paramount. (If you are GoPro, you want top of mind awareness if someone is shopping for a camera and they search for places to buy it like Amazon or Best Buy).
If you’re B2B, there’s only one place they can buy—and that’s from you.
That usually requires an expensive, highly trained sales rep to get the deal closed. So from a marketing perspective, educating them on who you are and what you do is not enough to drive sales.
You must convert this audience (anonymous and hanging out in social media) into known prospects for sales reps to have meaningful, consultative business conversations.
Sure, you might build a big audience that reads your content, but unlike an audience that lives in your database or someone that comes to your website and fills out a form, you don’t know who these people are! And you certainly don’t know if they’re qualified to buy from you in the first place.
That’s what we mean by lead conversion, and it only happens with good meaningful content that is gated such as a white paper, infographic or webinar registration.
One question that we receive a lot is “what channels should we be using in social media to distribute content?”
And we answer with a two-part question:
- Where do your clients and prospects live digitally and what channels do they actually use?
- What’s your strategy?
These questions are important, because if all you’re doing is pushing out posts to the Facebook page, and no one ever likes the posts or there’s no discussion—in other words, no audience—what you’ve really done is created a 2002 version of a news page on your website where you used to put all of your press releases. So if someone happens to go there, they can see that your company has activity and assume that you’re in business.
Conversely however, if they go to the news release page and the last one is dated 18 months ago, they might wonder if you’re still in business.
As long as its continuously updated, I wouldn’t say that this process is going to do any damage, but it’s not going to consistently get your sales people into meaningful conversations.
Remember, the whole point of social media marketing in the B2B space is to digitally replicate the prospecting functions that sales people used to have on the phone and face to face.
Anything that you publish is meant to be a conversation starter. For example, if you publish an article that points back to your website, and then ask a question to the audience that you’ve developed, you’re developing a digital dialogue when people answer and become engaged.
Or even better, if you've read this post and want to talk to us about how to restructure your marketing and sales to ACTUALLY generate leads, you can do that here!
Putting it another way, if your content marketing program is not generating a two-way conversation, then all of this is activity is just branding and awareness—and we must demand more from today’s B2B marketer.