B2B Content Marketing Job #1
In the B2C world, the sales cycle is often quite short: a customer becomes aware of a product, decides they like it, and makes the purchase – a process that can take only minutes. B2B is different. Purchases must be made according to organizational needs, keeping budget constraints in mind, subject to contract or regulatory controls, only after going through an approval process – a process that can take years. As a result, many B2B companies have a hard time figuring out where social media – which tends to be flashy and immediate – fits in their marketing mix.
The answer to that question begins with the two basics that apply to every company: be yourself, and understand your customer. B2B sales are heavily relationship-based. Institutional buyers in particular value vendors they know they can rely upon; trust and service are important enough that they can even overtake price as the most important decision-making criteria.
Building trust is an ongoing process of helping your customers and demonstrating you care about their success. In the digital marketing arena, this means sharing your expertise in order to help your customers make smart decisions. As a B2B supplier, you have in-depth knowledge of both your product or service and the industry as a whole. Social media provides a platform to demonstrate this knowledge.
Understand that this is a long term process. One LinkedIn post weighing the merits of blue widgets compared to green widgets is not going to result in an immediate sales spike. It is the aggregate effect that matters: by providing useful, actionable information to your audience, week after week, month after month, you position your firm as an expert resource buyers know they can turn to when they have a problem they can’t solve themselves.
LinkedIn is often the first choice for B2B marketing, and it is a good platform for sharing expert level knowledge and thought leadership. Groups are an extremely valuable opportunity for demonstrating your value and forming bonds with people in the industries you serve.
However, other platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, have a role to play as well. Video content performs exceptionally well on Facebook – remember to keep content short and focused for best results – and Twitter is a good tool for pointing interested industry players at content you have on your website and LinkedIn.
If you’ve been staying away from social media because you thought it wasn’t for B2B, now is the time to change that. Create a strategic plan to increase your visibility on relevant platforms, and begin creating and curating content to share with your buyers. Think of social media marketing as a long term investment in cultivating relationships. It may not be instant, but it’s valuable – and who can ask for more than that?