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B2B marketing in the 21st century

Aug 1st 2011
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B2B marketers will welcome Paul Gillin's and Eric Schwartzman's latest book, Social Marketing to the Business Customer. As the authors note in the preface, most discussions about social media marketing, focus on consumer marketing-even on occasions when B2b marketers make up the majority of the audience.

Great overview of B2B marketing

While the book centers on social media marketing, it is really an excellent overview of B2B marketing in the 21st century.  In addition to a description of all things social, readers will also find sections on search and content strategy-and examples of how to combine them with conventional activities such as public relations, direct mail, and sales collateral creation for maximum impact.  Perhaps the only innovations the authors don't go into in detail are those of a physical nature (e.g. SaaS and mobile).

B2B and consumer social media marketing differ

Early on, the authors dig deep into the differences between B2B marketing and consumer marketing-and why B2B companies need a book of their own.  This section alone may be worth the price of the book, since many MBA marketing courses still focus on consumer marketing.

Key to the section comparing B2B and consumer marketing is the discussion of sales cycle length and the consequent importance of gaining deep insights into how prospects prefer to buy.  It is this section that tees up discussions, throughout the book, about the need to tailor one's marketing messages-and their delivery-to buyers' readiness to consume them.

"How to" sections and examples

Probably of more interest to today's busy B2B marketer, are the multiple "how to" sections: how to measure success, how to pinpoint the most promising prospects, how to select the most effective marketing strategies, how to plan and execute tactics, and most important, how to knit all of the pieces together into an integrated marketing campaign.  The authors support each of these sections with case examples drawn from a wide range of practitioners-helping readers learn from their peers about what works and why.

Leads from blog are highly qualified

For example, the chapter on Lead Generation recounts how a company that sells solder paste achieved a six fold increase in their contact list in six months-with most referrals coming from the blog.  Through this example, we also learn that leads coming from the blog tend to be better qualified; because prospects who chose to download white papers, or custom answers to their questions, were often ready to buy-and happy to accept a sales call.

The media is the message

Later in the same chapter, the authors include a three-column chart that describes which marketing activities work best at each stage of prospects' buying processes (shameless self-promotion: Paul and I collaborated on this one).  One column displays the traditional media tool and the other column displays the social media equivalent.

Social media is searchable and faster

Nevertheless, the authors are careful to point out, that while social media has the advantage of being both searchable and faster, most conventional marketing tactics still have their place.  Readers will find examples of campaigns that integrate old and new throughout the book-often accompanied by helpful graphics.  These depictions help us quickly grasp how each tactic contributed-and how all the tactics worked together, to achieve the desired results.

Will help even skilled social media marketers improve their game

From discussions about how to sell the boss on social media, to examples of how companies can use "crowdsourcing" to design better products, to tips for determining what type of social community will best help you achieve your business objectives, Social Marketing to the Business Customer has something for everyone.  Even the most skilled 21st century marketers will find nuggets they can use to take their games to the next level.

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