In spite of the fact that social media is the top tactic used by B2B marketers (87%), only half of the respondents in a recent Content Marketing Institute (CMI) surveyexpressed confidence in social media.
I had laid out examples and arguments of why social media works for B2B companies. ex. social media can actually benefit B2B companies more than B2C companies because longer sales cycles can reduce the touch points needed to close a sale.
But the resistance is strong. Reason:additional work and expense.
Expense vs. investment came up as a recurrent theme at our Board of Director’s Meetings at the theatre company I referenced in my last post.
Travelling to Performing Arts Trade shows such as APAP was expensive, especially for a small theatre company that relied heavily on grants and donations.
But we were fortunate to have directors and granting agencies with vision who understood the difference between an expense and an investment.
The process for preparing, executing and following up for trade shows is very similar to how we develop leads through social networking.
1 – Laying the groundwork. Months in advance, we’d research our target market and reach out to prospective buyers to get a sense of who they were.
I’d begin by finding something in common with the prospective clients move on to how we could help them achieve their goals. Then arrange to catch up at the trade show.
2. – On the Floor – This was the “fishing” part; set the bait with an attractive display booth, stock it with slick brochures and posters (& giveaways of course) then wait for people to stop by.
When they did, we’d hook them with a great pitch. Like most fishing trips, more time was spent chatting with friends and peers than landing clients. This bait and hook strategy has unfortunately been carried over to the social media world.
3. Off the Floor – This is where the real work happens. Breakfast meetings, keynote talks, showcases, hallways – this is where connections convert to clients. Through eye contact, body language, handshakes and small talk, a trust-building relationships are establishing the foundation of a working relationship.
4. Follow up – Once back at the office, I’d input all the contacts in our contact manager (before smartphones), do follow up calls and continue to build upon the relationship.
Often, our conversations were about banal things like weather, sports, and recipes; things humans talk about.
These are the types of conversations that people poo poo social media about, yet they are the most important because the decision to purchase (or not) is made by a human. A real live person.
So it’s no surprise that the number one trusted tactic by B2B’s is in-person events. Same strategy and results, less travel costs.
Ray Hiltz is a Google Plus Specialist and Social Media Strategist helping small businesses establish their brands and build their communities on the social web.
A strong proponent for the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking, Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus.
His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and individuals just trying to make sense of "social".
Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.