B2B Social Media Marketing via Paul Gillin

A lot of what we read and hear about social media focuses on how businesses can use it to market to consumers (B2C).  Yet, as a business-to-business marketing consultant, I'm far more interested in its B2B applications.

This is perhaps the main reason I was looking forward to Paul Gillin's breakfast seminar at the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council last week. The other reason is that Paul has an uncanny ability to connect the dots in ways that add new meaning to any topic that he addresses.

B2B Marketing differs from B2C marketing

Paul distinguished between B2B marketing and B2C marketing by noting that because B2B purchases are often bigger, more complex, and ultimately "bet the company" decisions.  Therefore, the focus is on value, and then service and support.

Most buyers have a rigorous process for ascertaining value because they know that they will have to live with their decisions for a long time.   This process includes seeking expert advice.

Winning depends on influencing the experts

As validated by a 2008 Marketing Research study that Paul cites, the experts they rely on include employees who have experience with the product or vendor, analysts, and peers in that order.  Although the decision makers don't ignore vendors' marketing materials, personal recommendations carry much greater authority.

Winning therefore depends on building relationships with the experts--and those that influence them.  Today, much of that influence is happening through social media, so that's where vendors need to be.

Strategies for determining who is influential and what interests them

Paul outlined a number of strategies for figuring out who wields the most social influence and what will engage them.  He recommended turning to peer validation sites such as Technorati to identify candidates and then looking to sources such as presence in the mainstream media, traffic rank, number of inbound links, Hubspot's website and Twitter graders, and the number and quality of Twitter followers and LinkedIn connections to assess each individual's level of influence. To learn what interests them most, Paul suggested checking their blog rolls and tag clouds.

It's about engagement, not merely circulation

As Paul points out, it's all about engagement, not merely circulation.  Once you've identified whom you need to reach you'll want to treat them like reporters and reach out to them with news that they'll find interesting.

Nevertheless, it's important to remember that they're not the reporters of old--and therefore will have different questions and concerns.  Paul provided a number of examples of engineers that blogged on their technical specialties, CEOs that blog about the issues that face their organization, and others who are passionate about the niches they cover.

Case studies, tips, and more!

Then there were case studies to illustrate each point.  Paul showed examples of how companies used social media to attract attention, save money, get rid of excess inventory, and generate revenues.  He also discussed which social media tactics work best at each stage of the sales cycle.  It will come as no surprise to readers of his earlier book The New Influencers that blogging remains a favorite.

Next were tips for would-be publishers.  Chief among them was the importance of having clear business goals and a strategy for achieving them--at every stage of the sales cycle.  Paul noted that he feels that small business can really excel at social media because they know their niche, are nimble, and are less likely to get caught up in politics.

Another important piece of advice was to "fish where the fish are".  With Twitter and posts on group discussions linking to blogs--and Facebook's new "Like" button--the walls around each platform are continuing to come down.

Find out where your audiences congregate and go there to communicate.  Answer questions on LinkedIn.  Post presentations on SlideShare.  Then, you can link back to your site so the engaged can learn more about you and your company.

Finally, recycle and extend.  The same content can serve as a foundation for a blog, a podcast, and even a video.  You can reference it in a LinkedIn group on Twitter or in a comment on someone else's post.

Read the book

Lots of good advice--but this blog post is just a teaser.  To get the full scoop, you'll need to wait for the book--due out next January.  For a sneak preview, see Paul's slideshow entitled B-to-B Social Media--Really.

This article originally appeared on the BB Marketing Plus Top Line Blog.

This blog

by Barbara Bix - In tough economic times, more and more clients are looking to their accountants to help them improve the bottom line. Often, the best way to do that is to start with the top line-since one can only decrease expenses so far. This blog discusses concrete actions you and your business-to-business clients can use to accelerate revenues.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.

47168

Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.

80072

Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.

52295

Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

94546
Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.
23664

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".

59552

William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.

85053

Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.

27625

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.

68238

Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

37201
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
107533
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.
29020

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

56503
Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
31004
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.
35463

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.

105828

The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.

36778

FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.

117056

Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.

65310

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

42627
Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.
70051

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.

96441

AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.

57333