3 Ways Most B-to-B Marketers Get Off Track With Social Marketing

I get asked all the time, “Jeff, where do most B-to-B marketers go wrong with social media?” My response these days is becoming more focused and sharp: “They market on it rather than sell with it.”  There are three mistakes that most B-to-B marketers are making with social media marketing.

[For more of Jeff Molander’s insights on B-to-B marketing and social media, be sure to catch him on Thursday’s Multichannel Marketing for Business roundtable webinar.]

I get asked all the time, “Jeff, where do most B-to-B marketers go wrong with social media?” My response these days is becoming more focused and sharp: “They market on it rather than sell with it.”

There are three mistakes that most B-to-B marketers are making with social media marketing. They:

1. Have a very weak expectation of social media to begin with … they don’t expect it to produce leads nor sales.

2. Focus energy on finding effective ways to measure social’s effectiveness rather than finding ways to sell with it.

3. Make mistakes 1 and 2 because they’re looking to relatively inexperienced, unqualified people to decide what it is they should be doing with social media.

Expect Social Marketing to Sell
Your thoughts manifest reality. It’s a metaphysical fact whether you turn to new age gurus, the Bible or other philosophical belief system aimed at creating emotional, spiritual and financial wealth. What you think becomes reality and if you’re thinking about marketing outcomes (engagement, clicks, visitors, customer sentiment, etc.) that’s what you’ll get—by law!

Selling requires not only a change in expectation but a process mentality that generates tangible outcomes. Marketing usually involves a creative process with fungible, intangible outcomes like “good branding” that somehow results in sales. Marketing is faith-based.

If marketers could have anything they want when it comes to social media they want “better engagement” and better ways to measure it. The result is a world where B-to-B marketers continue to put today’s interactive version of branding before revenue.

Get Off of Social Media and on to a List
What if we cast aside such marketing aspirations and replaced them with dreams of creating leads? For instance, changing the goal from engagement to leads means changing what we do all day long—and how we do it. What if the goal was to get prospects OFF of social media?!

I’m noticing how B-to-B marketers who create revenue (and think about it all day long) think this way. They don’t care to spend five years wondering, “What’s the value of a Facebook fan?” only to find out that the question is as pointless as the half-baked answers self-appointed experts cook up.

Successful social sellers ask different questions like, “Can we use what we already know works to start generating leads sales with social marketing techniques?”

For these companies, the answer is, “yes, sometimes” but only when the social platform can be used in a way that moves sales prospects off of it and onto a lead nurturing program. In the end they rely more on traditional, process—driven database marketing—telemarketing, direct mail, email—and not johnny-come-lately metrics like “return on engagement.”

Believe in Yourself, Ignore the Experts
In many cases the reason why marketers are making mistakes 1 and 2 is because they fall victim to the uncertainty created by self-appointed experts.

In a moment of remarkable candor, former Apple brand evangelist, Guy Kawasaki announced his secret to social media success: Do not have any plan whatsoever for it. Because you can’t understand these oh-so-new technologies, he says the smartest way to approach them is to just do it.

You can understand Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, etc., if your context remains founded in business principles that are not revolutionizing—no matter what the experts say.

Resist the urge to hire who you know are ambitious, bright yet inexperienced, unqualified people to decide what it is they should be doing with social media (and how to do it). The truth is most social media experts have one main qualification: “I use it more than you do” and (my favorite) “I ‘get it’ because I study other companies that ‘get it'” (when “it” is largely hot air).

So if you want to avoid the three most common mistakes, expect social media to sell start learning a systematic way to make social platforms serve your business, stop trying to measure social’s effectiveness in intangible terms and trust your business instincts more than young social media experts.

The One Thing LinkedIn Experts Won’t Tell You That Always Nets Sales and Interviews

Making LinkedIn generate more job interviews (sell your personal brand) or leads for your business is all about how you think about what you already know-not new information about social media. Contrary to what “the experts” say, knowing how to set up an engaging LinkedIn group or rock solid profile isn’t the end game. Nor is pushing content marketing (blogs, webinars, etc.) out onto LinkedIn going to create results. The key to success is actually rooted in creative thinking-something most of us have accidentally shoved aside.

Making LinkedIn generate more job interviews (sell your personal brand) or leads for your business is all about how you think about what you already know-not new information about social media. Contrary to what “the experts” say, knowing how to set up an engaging LinkedIn group or rock solid profile isn’t the end game. Nor is pushing content marketing (blogs, webinars, etc.) out onto LinkedIn going to create results. The key to success is actually rooted in creative thinking-something most of us have accidentally shoved aside.

The Excuse
I know, I know … “Jeff, I don’t have time to get creative with social media. I’m being deluged with information about social media. I can hardly come up for air between getting it done (blogging, posting, updating, monitoring) and keeping up with what’s new … it’s taking up all of my time.”

I hear you. I felt the same way. That is until I met people who think about this challenge differently. People who are successfully generating leads and sales on platforms like LinkedIn using an unusual strategy: Taking a breath and getting creative. This approach even helped me recently recover my stolen wallet!

The Proof

If you read me regularly you know of the success stories-B-to-C and B-to-B companies like Logan Services, AnchorBank and others. I often present their success principles in the form of specific strategies. You’ve heard me say things like, “The best next step to getting the most out of LinkedIn is to surround yourself with what you already know about customers and find ways to leverage what you are already doing (outside of social media) that effectively creates and nurtures leads.” And some of you have written to me saying, in essence, “Great, I’m sold… what’s the next step?”

The Next Step: Simple, Fun & Empowering
Ignore the din of LinkedIn experts and start valuing fundamental marketing principles that you already know work. This is the path toward tapping into your own, personal creativity. Yes, for many this is a leap of faith. Yet faith is the starting point for accumulation of all riches (thank you Napoleon Hill!).

We marketers are too reliant on short-cuts and quick fixes when it comes to strategies like content marketing on LinkedIn. We don’t trust our instincts and end up taking the half-baked advice of experts pitching juvenile ideas like being “more human” or “likeable.”

How I Generated Sales on LinkedIn Last Week
I recently posted a handful of stories and interviews on my website discussing how home improvement businesses are using social media to create leads and sales. I then joined related LinkedIn groups. Within a few days I spotted a discussion on a Kitchen Cabinet industry group where I could answer a question in a way that demonstrated the specific valuable answers I was offering … in a way that tempted Group members to both email me for more details and click onward to my site to acquire the knowledge. The results rolled in: Lots of industry-specific leads and a handful of sales!

I got creative. I created valuable content (answers), then looked for people demonstrating need for it and finally provided answers in ways that created cravings for more of what I had to share (encouraged interaction).

How I Found My Stolen Wallet
I recently had my wallet stolen out of a gym locker-the guy stole my pants while I was in the shower! Gym management didn’t care or help. So I started thinking creatively-like a criminal! I immediately realized that my adversary would unload those jeans first. Hence, my trip to the dumpster alongside the building produced my jeans-sans wallet. But I wasn’t done. I wanted my wallet and was sure the thief was after my cash (only). A trip to the local train stop (my thief’s mode of transportation, I wagered) and a glance in a trash can revealed my wallet. All of its contents with the exception of my cash, which I had already kissed-off anyway, were intact.

What did creative thinking get me? I found my charge cards, debit card, drivers license and even a train pass intact! All because I stopped reacting and started thinking about what I already knew was likely true. This guy didn’t want to get caught with my stuff!

Rise Above the Drones
It’s worth mentioning that my local police department was of little help during this upsetting event. In fact they didn’t think my dumpster-diving ideas were worth pursuing! Again, lack of creative thinking. How has creative thinking spurred success in your business life? How can you start using your ability to think creatively right now to create results in LinkedIn or on other social platforms?