Are you a B2B (business to business) company using social media to help with your marketing and business development? If so, are you happy with the results? If not, then why not?
Much of the material written about using social media for business tends to focus on the business trying to sell a product or service to a consumer.
But social media is also a very effective business development tool for businesses trying to sell their products or services to other businesses.
LINKEDIN FOR B2B LEAD GENERATION
Although a little dated, this article from Hubspot is still very relevant today. It states that LinkedIn is one of the most successful methods of securing business customers. In fact, they rate it 277 percent more effective in generating leads than Facebook or Twitter.
An astonishing 77 percent of B2B marketers report they have acquired a customer through LinkedIn. And 84 percent of B2B companies are using some form of social media marketing. Those at the top of their game are generating three times their share of all leads from social media.
HOW TO MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA WORK FOR YOU
Why does it work so well and how can you make it work for you?
It works because it allows you to do three things that you can’t do as easily with traditional cold-calling:
- With a little research it lets you get an inside track on your targeted client’s concerns and issues so that you can address them with your service or product.
- It helps you to figure out the keywords they use to describe the products and services related to your business sector and issues that impact them so you can create material they will find more easily.
- It allows you to initiate a conversation within a socially accepted framework and to build a relationship with your potential client and begin to create an atmosphere of trust, especially when you are involved in the same groups or social channels.
DIFFERENT FROM B2C
The most important caveat in deciding to secure B2B leads with social media is to remind yourself regularly not to treat it like B2C (business to consumer). You cannot direct sell to a business via social media the way you can to a private individual.
The business sales process is considerably more complicated and typically much longer. The person you engage with in a LinkedIn group, for example, may not be near the person who will actually makes the purchase, but they likely have their ear.
All of your social media strategy, then, has to be focused on engaging potential clients, not on selling to them. You have to tweak their interest that your service or product is something that could solve a challenge they are having. At least, they want to talk to you more about it.
FIND A GROUP AND LISTEN
Let’s take an example of a company that manufactures boat hatches to sell primarily to the fishing industry. You search for a group of potential business buyers on LinkedIn and you see a group created for lobster fishers.
You join and listen to the conversations. You learn that they are talking about the problem of hauling heavy traps over hatches that aren’t flush or nearly flush with the surface of the boat. They also talk about the deterioration of hatches in severe weather when they are exposed to salt water for a long period of time and how they are sick and tired of having to keep replacing them.
Your hatches are installed to fit right over the hold of the boat with no ridge to catch equipment being pulled over it. They are also anodized to prevent corrosion in salt water and severe weather. You get into the discussion and next thing someone is asking if you could send them some information.
You look over all their comments and you see how often they use words like ‘hatches,” “corrosion or corroded” and salt water. Now you know what words to put into your marketing material and in your corporate description on LinkedIn. These are the words they are using and the ones they would likely search for.
Or, you could be a restaurant owner seeking a supply of fresh, organic vegetables. You join a farming group on LinkedIn or Facebook and discover that one of the most thoughtful contributors is an organic farmer just an hour away from you. You strike up a relationship and before you know it, you have a potential supplier.
Consider if you had a professional services business in accounting and you specialized in preparing Goods and Services Tax returns each quarter. Imagine the leads you could generate by joining online groups where small business owners complain bitterly about the paperwork involved and how they don’t have time to add this to their week’s work. By just mentioning that you created a system that drops the business owner’s time commitment to GST down to 10 minutes a week, for example, you are bound to get some people asking for you to send them more details.
As all of these examples show, it is always about the engagement leading to the sale, not the sale directly. As we have discussed previously people want to do business with people. But before they do business with you, they must LIKE, KNOW and TRUST you. This only happens by developing relationships.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
When you start to use social media to generate your B2B leads, it is important to set up goals and keep close watch on which strategic approaches work best. Keep a detailed record of what you try and the response you receive until you hit the formula that works best. Then reassess that regularly since the world of social media is in constant flux.
For example, many professionals believe LinkedIn to be best for B2B lead generation, but in a recent survey Twitter was coming on strong.
Stay focused in all your social media sites by frequently updating your content and ensuring everything that you do, including offering information, still has a focus on your brand.
When you do that you will find more and more mentions of your company name are heard and more visitors will find their way back to your corporate website, and then on to direct contact with you.
I wish you much success. Until next time.
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