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Micro-content Marketing: B2B Social Selling in 2015

By Sander Biehn | Mar 1, 2015

At Thought Horizon, we focus on using social media to sell B2B. Specifically, we help large companies use social media to sell B2B products and services.

Many of the companies we work with have already embraced B2C social and are pretty good at it. They employ “interactive” or “digital” agencies to produce B2C content that aligns with the marketing strategy. Then, the agencies curate conversations with customers on different social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. B2C Social Media Marketing has become a necessity for many brands. It has spurred the content marketing movement and has become well understood in recent years.

Although many companies have B2C social figured out, they are still struggling to figure out how to use social to both market and sell to their B2B customers—it is an entirely different animal. SEO and paid ads are a good start, but that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface.

Building Relationships is Key

Like sales of the past, B2B social sales hinges on building relationships and providing value to your prospects/customers. To do B2B sales well, you have to understand who you are selling to (specific buyers with specific business problems and the budget to solve them) and what gives them value. For example, using viral videos and cat memes for B2B would be ineffective.

“Micro-Content Marketing”

To sell to businesses using social, you need targeted content that provides value. The sales team can then share this content with specific customers. Thought Horizon calls it “micro-content marketing.” This content doesn’t need to be produced by your marketing team.  We’ve found that it is more effective when the content is decided upon and even produced by Sales. The most effective campaigns are one’s where Marketing gives Sales a large say in what is produced and posted.

Marketing Must Give Up Some Control

To your customers, content produced by marketing tends to sound like… marketing. Your customers aren’t stupid; they aren’t interested in marketing material that is one-sided and only touts the benefits of your brand. Your customers are looking for well-rounded views and opinions. They want to hear stories about others who face the same problems as they do. They want to read what influencers have to say. They want to hear the Pros AND the CONS.

Two Rules for Social Selling

In B2B social selling, the sales team should share anything that might help the customer, not just the content created by the brand. For example, I know of a recent sale that was closed because the saleswoman found a white paper published by McKinsey and shared it using Twitter with her prospect. Not only did it give the prospect better insight into his problem, but he was grateful to the saleswomen for sharing it with him. A healthy mix of curated and home-grown helpful content will build followers and success in social selling.

Keep in mind that you have to use your brain to sell B2B using social media. It isn’t a numbers game. When you send any and every article to your prospect with the hopes that something will eventually provide value, all you do is annoy and alienate. You must provide value with every touch point.

In B2B social selling there are two main rules:

1. Build relationships

2. Provide value

That’s it.

Conclusion

In order to embrace B2B Social Selling, marketing departments have to get comfortable with giving up some control of the messaging. By doing that, they can optimize the revenue potential of social selling.

Just because marketing didn’t produce it doesn’t mean it can’t provide value to the customer—some third party content will keep it real for sales team’s and customers. With a sales force properly trained in B2B selling, you can leverage  both types of content to increase both revenue and brand equity.

Thought-Horizon specializes in helping companies’ B2B sales teams generate content that is specific to a lead or customer. We work closely with marketing and sales management to develop a social sales strategy that fits the overall business strategy. Then, we produce/identify value-adding content, and partner with the sales teams to use social media to get the content in front of the right people. The result is instant revenue growth from the channels that used social media.

Why not give social selling a try and see if it works for you?

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