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.

A Deeper Dive into LinkedIn Leads and Sales Creation

The key to netting leads and sales using LinkedIn Groups is thinking differently about engagement and changing your habits—getting prospects off of social media and onto a lead nurturing program. In my last blog post I revealed the three-step process to making LinkedIn sell for you: Step 1: Create Content That Provokes; Step 2: Locate Qualified Discussions; and Step 3: Tease Prospects Into Action.

The key to netting leads and sales using LinkedIn Groups is thinking differently about engagement and changing your habits—getting prospects off of social media and onto a lead nurturing program. In my last blog post I revealed the three-step process to making LinkedIn sell for you:

  • Step 1: Create Content That Provokes
  • Step 2: Locate Qualified Discussions
  • Step 3: Tease Prospects Into Action

The Details: How I Did It
Now here’s how I’m generating leads and sales on LinkedIn Groups. I’m taking my best quotes from interviews I record—with subject matter experts—and chumming the water with them. If you want to catch fish you’ve got to attract the jumbos. Here’s one of the actual quotes I recently used:

“What social media does is allows access to buyers. [But] then the strategy is to take them off of the social media. Next you put them into a process. This is where we get into emotional-driven, direct response marketing routines … where they find you through relevant content via social media and you put them into a campaign. Dealers can leverage marketing automation technology to deliver more content that nurtures them along toward a sale.”

The other quote I placed told my target audience what they really want to hear: Success is about getting back to basics, that design (a value-added service that is being commoditized lately) still matters and how social media can be used to become known, liked and trusted in very practical ways if you focus on a simple, easy-to-do process.

Most importantly I provided no link to the content!

A Simple System to Get Sales
What did I do here really? I provoked my target market into contacting me. I already knew this approach works outside of social media and figured why not leverage LinkedIn Groups in a way that tempts group members to email me for more details or click over to my profile and then onward to my blog to acquire the knowledge? It worked.

So can you execute this same idea? Sure, you’ve got to trust that this will work but give it a shot. For me, the results rolled in: A dozen or so industry-specific leads and a handful of immediate sales. I love using LinkedIn for business leads because it’s so simple and time effective.

Again I followed a simple, practical system:

1. I created valuable content (answers to burning questions).

2. Monitored for people demonstrating need for it (in LinkedIn Groups).

3. Revealed answers in ways that created cravings for more of what I have to share (provoked interaction).

How many of you are doing the same? Surely there are more success stories out there. Let’s hear some!