2013: Year of the Social Selling Expert

If social media and content marketing managers are to survive the meteoric rise of “big data” they’ll need to become social selling experts—pronto. Like any new marketing trend, few can actually agree on what big data is. Yet the drumbeat of its promise is quickening and becoming louder. The role of the CMO is increasingly coming under pressure to techno-fy, automate and focus on bridging the gap between marketing and sales teams.

If social media and content marketing managers are to survive the meteoric rise of “big data” they’ll need to become social selling experts—pronto.

Like any new marketing trend, few can actually agree on what big data is. Yet the drumbeat of its promise is quickening and becoming louder. The role of the CMO is increasingly coming under pressure to techno-fy, automate and focus on bridging the gap between marketing and sales teams.

Facebook, blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn? Inbound marketing, content marketing?

“Yup, we’re on it.”

B-to-B marketers are “just doing it.” Growth is slowing. The love affair with social media and content marketing is nearly over. Everyone’s all gaa-gaa over big data.

Social Media Marketing: A Necessary Evil?
We’ve seen this kind of stagnation before in the days of online affiliate marketing. It didn’t take CEOs and vice presidents very long to go from boasting about how many thousands of affiliates they have to completely ceasing to talk about affiliate marketing.

Suddenly, behind closed doors, executive leaders started calling their affiliate marketing programs “a necessary evil.” Today, it’s a check on a checklist of mundane strategies that aren’t customer acquisition channels at all. At best they’re over-priced customer retention devices.

Social media and content marketing are at risk of suffering a similar fate: not being strategic. Will social media marketing end up being seen as a necessary evil, just another check mark on a list of ho-hum marketing strategies, more ways to spend money?

Said more bluntly: Will you be seen as a money spender or a money-maker in 2013? Will you get caught up in Doug Kessler’s “crap storm” or will your content produce leads and sales?

Because ultimately the difference between content that’s crap and content that isn’t is simple: Its ability to create a business lead.

The Rise of Social Selling Experts
For a select few large brands and small businesses social marketing is surviving and, in fact, thriving—powering businesses forward. These places are where we see today’s social selling experts emerging. These savvy pros see the rise of flash-in-the-pan trends as good news—a time to dig in and create bottom-line impact. Leads and sales.

One such pro is Ed Worthington of Action Business Systems, a provider of document management products and services.

You might be thinking, “Sure, Molander but Ed is a traditional sales professional, I’m a marketer.”

Yes, but that’s precisely the point.

Especially in the world of B-to-B marketing, the last few years has seen the meteoric rise of marketing automation, sales enablement—whatever buzzword term you want to use it amounts to one thing: The bridging of sales and marketing through technology-driven processes.

Today’s most successful online marketers are online SELLERS. These people aren’t afraid to be held accountable for leads and sales. Heck, they thrive on the chance to sing for their supper. They know success is all about applying specific skills like coming up with blog content that creates leads.

Maybe you’re asking, “Why is now the time … why should I be considering rising to the ranks of a social selling expert?”

Because the trend toward investing more on “big data” must be met by big change. If you’re going to keep your job or client relationship (or GROW it) you’ll be wise to become a social selling expert. Reach beyond engagement and become a money-maker, not just a money-spender.

What do you think?

Why Your Engaging Content Won’t Produce Leads

The ugly truth is, for many of us, engaging customers creates profitless prosperity—impressive marketing statistics that don’t ultimately, directly help generate leads and sales. Engagement is creating momentary value that is aloof from any kind of sales lead management process. Yet businesses who do create sales using social selling know something the rest of us don’t. Let’s find out what that something is.

The ugly truth is, for many of us, engaging customers creates profitless prosperity—impressive marketing statistics that don’t ultimately, directly help generate leads and sales. Engagement is creating momentary value that is aloof from any kind of sales lead management process. Yet businesses who do create sales using social selling know something the rest of us don’t. Let’s find out what that something is.

Why We’re Failing to Sell with Engagement
For years now, we’ve been rising each morning, downing our coffee and suffering through questions like, “How do I know what to blog each day?” And the biggie, “How do I become engaging enough to produce leads and sales?”

Most of us are busy producing engaging content on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and other social media. But in the end, even our most engaging blogs, YouTube videos and other forms of online publication fail to produce leads and sales. At best, sales are blindly attributed to content as part of a mass media branding success using fuzzy math. Why?

My on-going research confirms it: We’re failing to create sales engaging social media because we’re building content marketing on an outdated foundation. We’re clinging to mass media advertising ideas and values. Instead, we should be exploiting direct response marketing tactics.

“Marketers often come from two distinct backgrounds,” says best-selling author and IBM distinguished engineer Mike Moran.

“Brand marketers are the ones whose work you see on TV. They are all about branding, brand image, brand awareness—use whatever word you want—and their success has made Coca-Cola and many other consumer products into household names. Direct marketers are decidedly less sexy … constantly searching for the next idea that increases response. They are all about sales, and couldn’t care less about brand image as long as the cash register rings.”

Moran says engagement marketers with an interest in driving sales have much to learn from the practice of direct response marketing. Again, it’s not about influencing or leading thought, it’s about being a thought provoker.

How to Always Make the Sale
Why do so many of us pursue getting “liked” on Facebook or followed on Twitter? Because of this single idea: getting a lot of customers’ attention (reach) over and over (frequency) is enough to earn a sale … somehow, sometime. This is how advertising works.

Today’s best social sellers do not believe for a minute that exposure to engaging content will result in a sale. They have no faith that it will produce a lead. Rather, they believe in, and execute on, carefully mixing in calls-to-action. The content they create solves customers’ problems or vividly demonstrates (proves … think “infomercial”) compelling experiences relating to their service.

The best way to sell on Facebook is to solve customers’ problems (yes “for free”) in ways that earn trust and ultimately help them navigate their way toward your paid products and services. And by the way, I’m not saying attention or branding doesn’t matter. It does. I’m simply saying it’s not enough. Stopping at earning customers fleeting attention is a sure-fire losing strategy online.

I say avoid getting sucked into the profitless prosperity black hole by thinking in terms of direct response marketing when engaging with social media and content marketing. What do you think?