Jason Falls is an author, speaker and CEO of Social Media Explorer. He is also co-author of the book No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing, available on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.
Marketing to the business consumer takes a special pedigree. The complexities of the non-commercial arena often overwhelm even seasoned marketers from the consumer-facing world. Whether it's trying to make a seeming non-sexy product irresistible or pinpointing the buyer in a corporate landscape of bureaucracy and politics, B2B is a challenge.
Then consider the world of social media with its Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and YouTube videos. What is a business-to-business marketer to do with all that? Manufacturing firms don't watch YouTube! Logistics companies aren't on Twitter. People are.
But think about that argument for a moment. Do B2B marketers not sell to the "Business Consumer?" We don't pitch our services to GE or Boeing. We pitch them to Gloria or Bob. B2B marketers don't target Monolithic Company X or Big Conglomerate Y. They target the purchase decision-maker. And that person has a name, a face and probably a LinkedIn account.
Social media is a different marketing channel than all those that came before it. But only in that it allows for a much more personal connection between people and those they wish to communicate with. That, and the fact that much of it is indexed and archived and searchable. But it's the personal connection B2B marketers should be focused on.
You're not in the business of selling to businesses. There's no such thing as B2B. You sell to a person on the other end of the phone line, email message or conference table. You're a P2P marketer. Person-to-person.
And that can reshape how you consider social media. Because it's true: Manufacturing firms don't watch YouTube. Logistics companies aren't on Twitter. But people do. And people are. And some of them are your buyers.
Whether it's leveraging connections with industry contacts in a LinkedIn or Facebook group, blogging and winning search results for terms your ideal customer might be searching for or even connecting with prospective buyers on Twitter, social media can offer you something you didn't have before: A way to connect personally with prospects, and often enough to stay top-of-mind. And what does top-of-mind get you? Sales.
Is it challenging to find the prospects? It can be. Is it worth it to find them? It can be. Should you be trying?
Let's put it this way: If you're a B2B marketer and skeptical about social media marketing, chances are your competition is in the same boat. Who wins if you connect with a prospect in a noticeable, meaningful way using social channels like LinkedIn or Facebook before they do?