Getting Started – B2B Marketing Strategies for Technology Companies In 2021

B2B Marketing Strategies for Technology Companies

In our previous blog, we discussed some actionable trends that mid-sized technology companies could implement in 2021.

The good part about these trends is that companies don’t have to invest heavily in marketing. All that’s required is the right strategy, the right tools, and the right resources to implement it.

In this blog, we will go a step ahead and share some easy-to-implement strategies that technology companies can use to grow their business. 

Getting Started with B2B Marketing Strategies

Content Marketing 

B2B buyers on average read 13 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. Hence, technology companies need to create high-value content that can address their questions. There should be some form of content to guide the customer through the complete buyer’s journey. The tone of the content should appear more educational and less like a sales pitch. Some of the common forms of content include – website content, blogs, eBooks, and whitepapers. 

How to get started?

  • Before developing the content, determine its objective. Is it to create awareness, is it to explain the value proposition of the content, is it to onboard new customers? 
  • Choose a topic. The topic could be an opinion piece on the industry trends or a how-to-article or an article that addresses the common challenges faced by the customer. Ensure that the content is written for humans and not the search engines. Do in-depth research and back the content with examples, quotes, statistics, etc. Provide backlinks to the source wherever necessary. There are debates on the average length of a content piece. For example, some will say that the average word count of a blog should be 2000 words; some will argue that it should be up to 500-600 words. We would recommend not obsessing about the word count and instead focusing on generating informative and easy to grasp.
  • Once the content is developed, do a basic grammar and spell check to avoid glaring errors. Finally, upload and share the content everywhere for people to see.

Social Selling 

According to a report, 93% of companies use Twitter, and 91% use LinkedIn to create brand awareness, generate leads, engage with customers, and do promotions. It is tempting to create accounts on different channels such as Instagram, Facebook, or even TikTok. However, you should select the social channel where your target audience is and not necessarily the channel with the most users. Based on our experience, for B2B technology companies, LinkedIn and Twitter seem to be the most relevant platforms.

How to get started?

  • Create easy-to-remember or easy-to-find accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn. Fill in all the company details, such as company location, offerings, company size, etc. Remember to add the company website’s link in the bio to garner traffic. Twitter, for example, drives third-most referral traffic. 
  • Post frequently and ask employees to share them to increase the impressions. The posts could be a link to a blog, eBook, a landing page, or link to an article of an external publication. It could also be other updates – such as the latest wins of the company, a client testimonial, or an important update relevant to the industry. Use relevant hashtags to get noticed. Creating a social media calendar would help the social media team to streamline the process.
  • Respond to users who take efforts to engage with the content, so they feel encouraged to engage more. Have conversations with the audience, so they feel heard.
  • Look for positive and negative feedback and address customer queries as early as possible. Set SLAs for the team, so they respond to the queries and messages within a stipulated time. 
  • Measure the efforts to understand what kind of content appeals the most to the target audience. That will help in developing future content.

Thought Leadership / Educational Webinars

The one thing that became a buzzword in 2020 was Webinar. A webinar is the web version of seminars and live shows. Due to the social distancing norms and the travel bans imposed worldwide, technology companies started conducting webinars to create brand awareness, educate prospects, and generate leads. However, webinars were being used as a part of content marketing strategy even before the pandemic. 73% of B2B marketers admitted that the webinar was the best way to gain high-quality leads.

How to get started?

  • Choose a topic that would interest the prospect and align with the company’s offerings. Get an expert speaker on board.
  • Develop the content for the webinar. Ensure that it is relevant to the prospect and does not look like a sales pitch.
  • Decide on the date, time, the platform that will be used to host the webinar. Choose a day and time when most people have lesser work commitments and can attend the webinar.
  • Promote the webinar on social media and website. Create a landing page so people can sign up for it easily.
  • Create an email workflow, such as sending a confirmation email after sign up, a reminder email before the webinar begins, and a thank you email with contact details and the recording after it runs.
  • Do a dry run with the team a day before the webinar to ensure that the logistics are in place.
  • Follow-up with the leads after the webinar.

Case Studies

B2B customers want to know if the company has the expertise and knowledge before engaging with them. Case studies offer validation and evidence to the customers. They act as social proof for the company.

How to get started?

  • Seek approval from existing or former customers if they would be comfortable with their case study published on the website and social media channels. Some customers may prefer their names to be masked. 
  • Determine the format of the case study. It could be a video testimonial from the customer or a short interview with them or a case study in text format. 
  • Follow the problem-solution-results format for the case study. Be specific about the solutions offered and add the right numbers in the results. Do not exaggerate, make tall claims, or add any content that could mislead a potential customer. Make the case study clear and concise, so the impact is clear to the prospects.
  • Get it reviewed by the customer if required, and publish it on the website and social media. It can also be used in email marketing. 

Landing Pages 

While websites offer general information about the overall company, a landing page is more product-focused or industry-specific. Its purpose is to drive conversions. So, the content has to appear different from -website content. 

How to get started?

  • Determine the purpose of the landing page. Is it to drive conversions or ask the prospect to download a whitepaper or sign up for a webinar? Write the content accordingly.
  • Make the content as concise and clear as possible. It should lead the prospect to take action. Ensure that they don’t have to search for the click on the call-to-action. It should be visible on the page. The navigation, the content, and the design of the landing page must be simple and effective enough to drive conversions.
  • If the audience is different, create different landing pages for different segments to add value. Segment them, so the right email is sent to the right audience.
  • If the landing page is being used for paid ads, ensure that it aligns with the landing page’s message.
  • Add social proof such as reviews and testimonials to add value to the page.
  • Do A/B testing to know which one works better.

Personal Branding of the CXOs

Gone are those days when CXOs were elusive and almost unreachable. Today’s CXOs are more social and approachable. They are active on Twitter and LinkedIn and even respond to people’s comments. Having a personal brand helps CXOs establish themselves as an authority in their industry and build trust among prospective customers. They can also leverage their network to stay connected with ex-customers, the existing ones, and the prospects. 

How to get started?

  • Create a profile on Twitter and/or LinkedIn. Ensure that the profile is completely updated with a bio, recent photograph, professional and education experience, and other necessary details.
  • Post regularly. The posts could be important news related to the company or a personal opinion on the trends that dominate the industry, or links to the blogs or other company content. 
  • Write a guest blog or guest article for third-party websites related to the industry to get established as a thought leader. 
  • Network with peers and engage with prospects to establish a relationship. Ensure that the opinions are aligned with the values of the company. 

The sales cycle of B2B marketing is longer than B2C. A single deal could take as much as 9 months to get closed. An average of 7 people is involved in making buying decisions. It can be particularly difficult for technology companies as they have no tangible evidence of their offerings. So, companies should not expect overnight or quick results from B2B marketing. Patience, consistent marketing efforts, and continuous measurement of its effectiveness are necessary. Companies must use a combination of the above strategies and wait for some months to see results. However, merely implementing all the above strategies without a concrete plan will be a futile exercise. Here are the next steps to get a positive outcome:

  • Set goals – it could be creating awareness or converting leads into customers. Set SMART goals, i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, so it’s easy to implement them.
  • Set the budget and seek permission from the management– This will help plan the strategies accordingly. 
  • Understand the customers – Understand their business challenge, decision-making process, the solution they seek, and accordingly plan the strategy. Be where the customer is! 
  • Test and measure the outcome – Test different forms of content and different channels. Measure the results and decide what works best for the business.
  • Align sales with marketing – Working in collaboration will help in closing deals faster. 

Need help in planning and implementing the B2B strategy for 2021? We can help.

Now that you have survived 2020, it’s time to grow in 2021

Post Pandemic Marketing Strategy

2020 changed everything – especially sales and marketing.

The old strategies, tactics, and tricks won’t work now – no matter how hard you try. So, what should you do instead to catch the eye of your target audience?

This “Post-Pandemic Marketing Plan” resource is for you if you are

  • A partner of global product companies like SAP, IBM, ServiceNow, Atlassian, Oracle, etc.
  • A company with a specialized set of service offerings in niche areas like IoT, AI, Blockchain, etc.
  • A company with a ready-to-launch product
  • In a highly competitive space like s/w development and testing, app development, cloud etc.

This resource may highlight what exactly has changed and what could be the “rescue recipe” for you.

http://i-midastouch.com/post-pandemic-marketing-plan/

Why Your Sales Team Needs Social Media to Achieve Its Goals

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

 

“Lead people with what they want. – Lead with what they’ve already said. – Lead people from where they’re at. – Lead them with the things that concern them.” – Sandi Krakowski

You will notice that Krakowski wants you to create a lead generation strategy around your target customers’ needs on the platform where they prefer to be. Today social media has become an inseparable part of our lives and work. While we meet potential clients and customers through professional networks like LinkedIn, we nurture those relationships through Facebook as they become more personal, get a glimpse into their likes and interests through Instagram, and if possible, chat with them on Whatsapp.

Why should your sales team then shy away from leveraging this powerful medium to enhance their lead generation strategies?

In fact, it’s time for them to start using social media marketing to increase sales and the visibility of your business if they haven’t already.

What is Social Selling?

Well, the term has been doing the rounds for quite some time, but it is not just about the use of social media. In fact, it is a way, used by efficient salespeople to create and nurture long-lasting relationships on social media platforms. In some quarters, this seen as a replacement for cold calling and mass outreach efforts.

Social-selling is a structured but indirect way to generate more leads, not by coaxing your target customers to buy your products or services but making them aware of the benefits of opting for the same. The nudge is subtle, structured, and sustained, once you appear in the eye line of your prospect as someone worth connecting with.

If your sales team haven’t adopted social selling yet, you may well be missing out on a lot of potential customers.

Are you still wondering why to engage your salespeople in social selling?

Building Real-Time and Long-Term Relationships

Lead generation with social media helps your sales team make real-time relationships with clients, who have similar tastes and preferences. Most people these days avoid responding to cold calling and direct advertising, so this may be the safest way to generate new conversations that turn into leads. Your sales team can also use relevant social media tools to identify potential customers (or clients), who are already talking about the problems that you can help them solve, taking an interest in your industry, or your competitors, and use that information to connect with them at the right time.

Managing your Online Perception Easily

With social media, you can manage the perception of your brand more easily. You have the opportunity to add a focus on customer testimonials, reviews, and feedback. According to some estimates, 70-80% of buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. Try conducting a Google search on your sales team. What do you think will come up? Ask your sales folks to optimize their social profiles, so that such a search, when conducted by a potential buyer of your products (or services), showcases a positive outcome.

Generating Prospective Leads

As mentioned earlier, people are becoming more and more turned-off by banner ads and cold calls. They tend to place their faith more on businesses that engage, listen, and specifically cater to their needs. In short, they believe in real-time conversations rather than machinated advertisements. Therefore, if you wish to grow, you have to engage on a personal level with your potential clients or customers. You need to earn their trust before you can expect them to buy from you.

Creating a Loyal Customer Base

What about after someone has bought from you? Your social media presence can go a long way in establishing a relationship of trust with your potential customers, as well as existing ones. Social selling helps your sales team stay in touch with your existing customers, engage them, and take their feedback on board. Responding to queries, taking suggestions, apologizing for mishaps, making amendments for negative reviews, all help create involvement and engagement. If you listen to your customers, you have the opportunity to build a relationship. That could go a long way in helping retain customers in the long run.

So how do you go about adopting social selling?

  • Instruct your sales team to create and optimize their individual social media profiles, as well as your business profile
  • Define a clear social media communication strategy and messaging that everyone can follow in tone, focus, and direction.
  • Hire professional content writers to generate content that your sales team can use in their social selling campaigns
  • Stay active on LinkedIn, which is the biggest professional social media network out there and optimize your profile according to your image
  • Use your Twitter handle to follow the current social media trends in the industry and also make some useful connections
  • Hire a social media marketing agency, if possible, to take the load of keeping your social media strategies current, off your shoulders

Conclusion

Marketing and sales are, of course, incomplete without each other. If you lag in one, the other will fall. Ensure that you invest adequate time and resources to updating your social media marketing strategies and integrate that with your lead generation process. It’s the right, in fact, the only way to get ahead in this social age.

Choosing Between Creating an In-house Team, Hiring an Agency or a Freelancer for B2B Marketing

Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

“The only way to consistently grow in B2B is to be better than very good.” – Seth Godin

But, how can you be better than good with your existing B2B marketing strategies?

You have to always be on your A-game in your marketing department so that you do not lose ground to the competition. This involves cash -B2B companies invest about 25% of their budget in their marketing. The effort is also high – founders and CEOs worry themselves sick to come up with ideas that will improve the age-old ways of promoting their business on social media platforms.

The question arises,

Do you really need to spend that time and effort to market your business or you should hire someone with the expertise and experience to handle that department?

Given that you are a founder or the CEO of a company, you will have a lot on your plate. You do need help.

So, should you hire an in-house team? Or appoint a reliable social media agency to take care of your marketing endeavours? Nowadays, when telecommuting or remote working has become quite a trend, you could also opt for freelancers to manage specific elements of your B2B marketing.

This post may help you determine the best possible choice by carefully evaluating the pros and cons of each.

Creating an In-House Marketing Department

In many cases, creating an in-house marketing department to handle your B2B marketing needs seems to be the best possible option you have.

Why is it so?

The main reason for hiring an in-house marketing team is sustained accessibility. You can turn to them as and when you please, get updates regularly, issue suggestions and hold discussions without any difficulty. While these are the ready advantages of an in-house team, some of the cons of hiring one are given below:

  • Hiring expert marketers and building a team of skilled people requires a lot of time and investment.
  • You have to take care of their needs and demands, manage them, sustain them, and keep them challenged and engaged. Most importantly, you will have to keep them busy at all times.
  • The amount of financial investment will increase when you expand the team and include senior executives.
  • The cost will keep escalating as from time and again, you have to think about promotions and increments, especially if your team turns out to be the best and are successful in taking the business to the next level.
  • Hiring an in-house marketing team will increase the operating expenses.
  • Lastly, there’s no real guarantee that you will be able to hire the best in each functional area. That means your marketing efforts may end up being only as good as the weakest link.

If you think you can manage the time and financial investment of building your own marketing team, and that you will always have enough work to keep those dedicated people well and good! However, if you have your doubts, you can always hire the best social media marketing agency instead.

Hiring a Social Media Marketing Agency

Now, if you hire a social media agency, you will not have to deal with the issues highlighted above. You can tap into their specific areas of expertise, according to your unique B2B marketing requirements. You can take their help to define a robust strategy that includes the latest and most innovative methods. Once you agree on the way forward, you can leave the rest of the task to them. However, you do need to maintain a regular connect with the agency to keep track of progress.

The Pros

  • When you appoint a social media agency to take care of your B2B marketing needs, you will rest assured that your business is in expert hands.
  • If you think that a marketing agency is not being able to deliver according to your expectations, you can always opt for the next best one in the industry. It is way easier than dissolving your entire in-house marketing department to create a new one.
  • Most of the time, outsourcing your marketing endeavours results in pulling together a group of experienced people, who are experts in their fields and are capable of improving areas you may never have thought of.
  • No training is required to make them understand your needs. Their discovery processes will ensure they capture the most relevant information.
  • The best social media marketing agencies have the latest tools at their own disposal, which they will use while handling your B2B marketing

The Cons

  • You have to hunt down the best possible social media agency from among the various options available. It’s sometimes hard to know which agency has real skills and which is just talking a good game.
  • It may not always be possible to build a partner relationship within your budget.
  • You will need to give the agency some time to understand your specific needs as well as your market niche.
  • Accessibility becomes an issue at times when you need to make an urgent connection but you find that you are unable to reach your partner.

In the case of hiring a reliable social media agency to handle your company’s marketing responsibilities, the inherent benefits, of course, outweigh the cons if your need is to drive a contained but high-quality and sustained marketing strategy.

Hiring a Freelancer for Your B2B Marketing Needs

Most of the time, a company will hire a freelancer to handle specific elements of B2B marketing, if it is new and in no condition to invest realistically in promotion and marketing. Hiring freelancers is often more inexpensive than hiring a social media marketing agency. Generally, start-ups and mid-level organisations will opt for a freelancer, or a group of individuals working as freelancers, to handle their marketing needs -often to get things off the ground.

The Pros

  • The freelancers are always on their toes to impress you and get your feedback, which they may be able to use to expand their network.
  • They are way less expensive than reputable marketing agencies
  • In the case of a single freelancer, communication gets easier, as you have to contact only one person for all your needs.
  • If there is any issue, only one person will be accountable for the same, and amendment will be easier.

The Cons

  • Freelancers are not bound to anyone or any particular company. They have a number of clients to attend to, and you may not be their only focus area.
  • You cannot blame a freelancer entirely, as they have no contractual agreement with you. They are sometimes hard to pin down and it’s not unknown for freelancers to vanish halfway through the effort.
  • Communication can get difficult if the particular individual is unprofessional, ill-equipped or dishonest. They may only concentrate on taking your money without providing results.

Therefore, if you wish to hire a freelancer, you should do considerable background research on the person before letting him/her in on your marketing team. That will help you filter out cheats and frauds to some extent.

Conclusion

In short, the choice that you have to make solely depends on your business needs, and your budget. Of course, if marketing is strategic for your organisation, you should probably hire a social media agency to handle all business to business marketing needs of your company. In case you are an early-stage start-up, get a freelancer to work for your initial needs. However, if you believe that the volume of work will be large enough, you can create an in-house marketing team. It’s what works for you that matters!

B2B Companies – Don’t Start with Social Media If….

B2B Companies – Don’t Start with Social Media If….

Let’s see why B2B companies are more and more turning to social media –

Because thought leaders are saying so –

Content marketing is the only marketing left – Seth Godin

We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it – Erik Qualman

Because these stats are enough to convince us –

  • 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product (Source)
  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (Source)
  • 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level or vice-president level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions (Source)

Because traditional sales methods are not working anymore –

Company CEOs and sales heads are seeing that what worked for them a decade ago does not work any longer – cold calls are incredibly ineffective, email campaigns are not getting enough response, and meetings are hard to get. The conversations with the buyers start at a much different note where the buyers are well-informed about what they want, how they want, and from whom do they want it.

Now that you understand the relevance, importance, and need of B2B Social Media, you should just start with it, right? Hire a good team and get started? Well, not really. Let’s take a step back. Instead of looking at “how” to get started, first you need to examine if you are really readyfor B2B Social Media or not.

Don’t start the efforts if –

You are not sold on the idea of social selling

Don’t just go by stats or quotes. Impartially evaluate your business, your industry, your customers, their purchase behaviors, and your sales cycles. See what role content marketing and social media can play in your business growth. Only once you are convinced and have understood the relevance of social media and content for your business, you should start the efforts. Without any specific goals, your efforts will be, well, just efforts. 

You don’t have a good website

A lot depends on your site. Period. And I am not talking about a jazzy and fancy website only. The role of social and content is to bring users to your site. If your site cannot convince them as to why they should do business with you, then no matter how good your social media efforts are, you are not going to get the desired results. Some basic things to look for include – does your site talk to your target audience, does it offer all the relevant information, does it specify the “benefits” your target audience is going to get by working with you, does it establish your expertise in the field, does it offer enough proof (aka case studies/ testimonials) to convince your target audience that it is beneficial for them to work with you? Another important thing to check for is navigation and placement of the right CTAs on the site – these help in keeping the visitors involved and engaged with the site.

You, as the head of the business, can’t commit time to it

Social media is not free. It is differently expensive. Hiring the best team or a great agency is not going to give you the desired impact if you are not involved in it yourself. As the head of the business, provide the required direction, views, and pointers to the team. Regularly evaluate the progress and see if the goals are being met or not and what tweaks are required. Make sure that there are synergies between sales and marketing teams. As someone who has the visibility about various other aspects of the business, it is your responsibility to ensure that the marketing efforts are aligned with the overall business goals.

You don’t have integration of marketing and sales

Gone are the days when marketing and sales teams could work in silos and have different goals and targets. In today’s age of hyper-connectivity, every department within the organization is the marketing department. Especially between marketing and sales, there needs to be a tight integration. Sales teams should leverage the content being created, the marketing team should ideally align the content based on sales campaigns, social media activity should talk about the same things as the sales campaigns, content should help in addressing the common objections which the sales teams are facing, and so on. All these things are not possible unless the marketing and sales teams work together.

You are “trying” it out

Remember that social media and content marketing is a commitment and not a campaign. I would not recommend you starting the efforts if you want to “try it for a few months and continue based on the results”. Social media requires serious commitment, well-defined goals, a thorough action plan, and flawless execution. Unless you are prepared to invest your time, energy, and resources over a long term, you should not venture into it.

Don’t let these factors deter you from starting your efforts. The sole objective of this article is to help you plan better.  It really pains me to see companies cannot leverage this powerful medium simply because they were not well-prepared and do not know how to get started. Right preparation is the key to success. As Abraham Lincoln has famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

9 Things You Will Regret Not Knowing about B2B Social Media

B2B Social Media

Social media is just a buzzword until you come up with a plan.” – Unknown

Well, chances are that you have heard a lot about B2B social media and are convinced that it has moved beyond just a buzzword. You want to start adopting this new way of marketing and sales, but not sure what to expect and what mistakes to avoid.

Through this blog post, I have tried to capture 9 key points which every B2B company must know while planning their social media and content marketing initiatives –

B2B Social Media is different than B2C

The nature of B2B businesses is different – the sales cycles are complex, purchase decisions do not happen in seconds, there are multiple decision makers involved in the sales cycle, and fitment of the solution plays a more important role than emotional connect. Considering all such factors, don’t you agree that the social channel which you visit for connecting with your family and friends is probably not the best channel for educating the buyers about how they can solve a business problem?

As Erik Qualman has very rightly said, “Successful companies in social media function more like entertainment companies, publishers, or party planners than as traditional advertisers.” Bombarding your message to hundreds of thousands of people is not going to help you close a deal.

Not only the distribution channels, but you need to think differently in every aspect when it comes B2B social media – does your audience prefer a serious language or humor can work with them, what is your choice of social channels, which type of content is used by decision markers vis-a-vis the influencers, and how can you integrate your marketing efforts with sales campaigns.

In a nutshell, while B2B social media is still about human-to-human interaction since the goals and intentions are different, the efforts need to be tweaked appropriately.

A team of interns would possibly not be able to pull off your B2B social media efforts

Many companies think that social media is about setting up accounts on popular social channels and posting updates on those. This, according to such companies, is a very simple task and can be done by virtually “anybody” – even as a side project. Don’t mistake it to be just an activity. You need to start looking at it as an investment of valuable time and resources. Don’t have a Twitter or Facebook strategy. Have a social media strategy. As Brian Solis has said, “Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology.

B2B social media requires a strong strategy, the right choice of tools, right message, understanding of the customer needs, ability to listen to what they want and what are they looking for, and engagement with the target audience – I would say this is too much to expect from a team of interns without a business acumen.

You can measure the Social Media RoI

If anybody has told you that you cannot measure the RoI with B2B social media, don’t believe them. You definitely can measure the RoI as far as you remember that R stands for “Return” and not only “Revenue”. Social media and content marketing can help you achieve –

  • Increased awareness and visibility in front of your target audience
  • Greater engagement
  • A chance to be front of the digitally-driven, socially-connected, informed, mobile audience
  • Opportunity to engage with your buyers through relevant and authentic conversations
  • Stronger relationships with your target audience
  • Your thought leadership

And all these things will eventually lead to sales, which is your ultimate objective.

You can’t avoid content marketing – content is king

And by content marketing, I do not mean the brochures and corporate presentations. When today’s B2B buyers are looking for information, finding answers to their questions, and doing their research, you need to be in front of them through educative content which helps them in their research – this content can be in the form of blog articles, whitepapers, eBooks, webinars, podcasts, case studies, presentations, etc. Do note the word educative here, because if you try to constantly sell through your content or keep on talking about how great your product or service is, then you aren’t talking about content marketing.

Your website needs to be a strong one to capture the interest of the audience

Thousands of visits to the website are worthless if they don’t take any action. Of course, your products and services have to be relevant and useful for the visitors for them to take any concrete action. However, it is also important to showcase the information in the right format, through right visuals, and with the right CTA (Call-to-Action buttons).  Some of the ways you can capture the interest of the visitors are: having a CTA on popular blogs, a banner image on all pages for unique events like webinars/ podcasts, option to download a whitepaper on relevant pages of the website, links to case studies from the services pages, etc.

B2B social media is not a replacement for your sales engine

That’s right. Social media is the top of the funnel activity in your sales engine. It can create awareness, generate interest, get people interested in your content (blogs, whitepapers, webinars, etc.), and drive traffic to your website. But if you think people will fill out the contact form after reading the blog, then it’s little unlikely to happen – and that’s because B2B sales cycles are complex, there are multiple decision makers involved, the questions of every decision maker and influencer are different, and people don’t make decisions based on impulse. Having said that, based on my personal experience as well as our experience of working with several B2B companies with their social media initiatives, I can confidently say that these things play a huge role in your sales cycle and you must integrate these efforts with your sales efforts. Don’t run these two engines in silos.

Influencer marketing works – even in b2B

People listen to people. People value opinions of the experts in the field. A thought leader talking about the latest trends in the industry holds more weightage than an advertorial. Therefore, it makes a perfect sense to connect with the right thought leaders in your industry, share their thoughts, ask them questions, seek feedback, invite them for guest blogging, or run a webinar series with them. Of course, this is a long shot and it has to be a subtle and consistent effort. The thought leaders need to get convinced that your offerings and ideologies resonate with them.

You need the involvement of your employees

In today’s digital age, the whole company is your marketing department. Marketing departments cannot run in silos. You need involvement of various department stakeholders to make your B2B social media initiatives successful – for example: you need to involve the subject matter experts in your content creation efforts, your need the sales teams to leverage the content created by the marketing teams, you need the external facing employees to amplify the impact of the social promotions, and you need your HR teams to leverage the content and social properties to connect with the right talent.

Executive branding is important

Companies need to ensure that their leadership team is highly visible on social media. Especially for companies where the top leadership is involved in large value sales deals or is the face of the company for talent acquisition, it is important that the leaders depict the right image of themselves in the online world. Publishing thought leading content, being active on B2B focused social channels like LinkedIn and Twitter are some of the ways to be in the eyeline of the right audience. I agree that the CXOs may not be able to spend a humongous amount of time in this activity, but trust me, if you can, it is totally worth it. Have a concrete personal branding strategy (define what you want to be known for), choose the right channels, engage with the right people (don’t forget to respond to the comments), and ensure that you are consistent with your efforts.

Some of these things might appear to be very obvious and basic – the key lies in following these consistently and diligently. Good luck with your efforts!

The 5 Essential Traits Of A Specialist B2B Social Media Agency

This post is for you if you are responsible for delivering the big numbers in a B2B-focused company. Yes, you -the sales leaders, the marketing heads, and everyone who feels the pressure of carrying a sales target, either directly or indirectly.

Chances are that if pay heed to the data, you would almost certainly have altered your marketing mix over the last few years to add more content, more social channels, and more of everything digital. It’s also possible that after starting down this B2B Social Media path, you may have wondered if you have the people or the time, or the strategic depth to be able to do all this on your own. At times like this, you may start considering engaging a social media agency –that’s where this post may come in handy. This is my attempt to outline the 5 defining characteristics of a B2B specialist agency. This could help you determine if the agency pitching to you has serious B2B chops or not!

  1. Understanding of the sales process: A true B2B specialist agency must have a deep understanding of just how the B2B Sales process is different. These agencies know that this is more complex, involves more decision makers, takes much longer, and is driven by logic more than by emotion. Such a complex sales process demands a more complex content and social strategy. Can your agency under consideration convey how the strategy will change to address the nuances of the different decision makers and the various sales stages?
  2. Focus on business outcomes: Branding is important, no doubt about that, but the B2B specialist agency will almost certainly focus the conversation on delivering some other, more tangible business outcomes. They will talk about numbers, they will showcase the reports they generate, they will explain at length what they measure and how those measures are relevant to the specific business objectives you are driving for. They may surprise you by their interpretation of some traditional metrics. For eg., they may well claim that reach/impressions are more important than the number of fans or followers. They may focus more on the clicks going back to the website than on the number of “likes” and so on.
  3. Channel focus: Most in the B2B game now agree that LinkedIn is the most important channel, with Twitter to follow, and your agency would know that too. The real expertise lies beneath the surface. What experience do they have of working with LinkedIn groups? What stories do they have to tell of the impact their clients got from Linkedin groups? On Twitter, beyond RTs, what is their plan for engaging with Influencers? B2B Influencers are acknowledged experts in their space and it takes skill to build and nurture a relationship with them that is based on mutual trust and respect. Does your agency give a sense of knowing how to do that?
  4. Expertise in “professional” content: B2B content is just different. This is professional content consumed by professionals. The focus is on being informative, showing thought leadership, and projecting expertise. Different objectives demand different types of content written differently. No doubt the content has to be readable but in many ways the depth of the content is even more important than the language. Can the agency point to their work that is available online? I submit that samples have relevance only if they have made an impact in the real-world.
  5. The right evidence: The proof of the pudding is in the eating and that’s where references or testimonials come in. Most agencies can provide references on request but to my mind, not all references or testimonials are equal. Does your agency have references they can share from companies similar to yours? Again, like content samples, I submit that the best testimonials are those that are in the public domain. Do the clients of your agency under consideration care enough about them to say so to the whole world?

This is a new space with potentially vast opportunity and a number of agencies are making their play there. But being a specialist B2B social media agency is hard. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and so choosing the right agency could make or break your own B2B Sales effort. I hope this post will help you make that choice. Or you could make it easy on yourself and just call Midas Touch Consultants.

Top 4 Types of B2B Content You Must Pay Attention To

B2B Content Marketing

As someone who has been in the field of Digital Marketing for the past 15 years, I have seen the evolution of marketing – especially B2B marketing. Content marketing has taken center stage. It is the key element which helps marketers capture the attention of their target audience.

One of the most common questions asked to us is: “I have a killer product. Do I still need to invest in content marketing? Won’t my product sell itself”. Today, with the proliferation of new and emerging technologies, a lot of innovative products are coming in the market every single day. But look at it this way – if your target audience does not find the solution to their problems (aka your product), then they are not going to come to you. In fact, content marketing helps tremendously in concept selling.

So once you are convinced that you do want to start your content marketing efforts, the next obvious question is, what type of content. Contrary to the common belief, blog is just one type of content which you can create.

Let us look at the four most popular types of content which you can benefit from –

Types of B2B Content

Blogs/ Articles

A blog is an easy way to keep your target audience engaged with information and educational content. As we all know, search engines love fresh content and blog is an excellent way to keep your website updated with new content. Remember that your blog should NOT be about your product or service – you have the other pages of the site for that. The blog should have articles which provide answers to the questions of your target audience. It should provide solutions.

B2B Blogging Tips

  • Keep the articles in the range of 800-1000 words
  • Include at least one image in each article
  • Your articles can be technical or non-technical – depending on the needs of your target audience. In any case, again, the articles should provide answers to the questions of your audience.
  • Start with a frequency which you can maintain. There is no point in writing five articles in one month and none for the next 3 months.
  • Involve your subject matter experts in providing the content and have the B2B content writers translate that into a promotable and publishable format.

Whitepapers

Whitepapers are more in-depth and more authoritative reports than blogs. The difference between a blog article and a whitepaper is that a whitepaper addresses a specific business issue in detail. From the organization’s perspective, these are great resources for demonstrating in-depth technical and business knowledge.

B2B Whitepaper Writing Tips

  • You need to involve the subject matter experts at a deeper level for writing a B2B whitepaper – from the content writers perspective, they need to do a more in-depth study of the topic, prepare the outline, and then have a detailed conversation with the SMEs.
  • You can, by all means, include a section in the whitepaper which highlights your expertise in the area. It is a great place to position yourself as an expert in the field but don’t make the complete paper a sales pitch.
  • Be sure to present proofs and references to your claims.
  • Make the whitepapers and eBooks available on request and use these in your lead generation campaigns. This requires you have a landing page for the whitepaper which outlines key benefits of downloading the paper.
  • Feel free to reuse the content in the whitepaper and create more detailed blog posts for each section in the paper.

Infographics

I see that many people are big fans of infographics. Infographics are highly visual in nature and are great for showcasing a complex topic in an easy to comprehend manner. These are great for sharing on social media (although one needs to zoom in to see most of the infographics completely). Infographics are great for creating awareness about your brand and also to drive traffic to your website.

B2B Infographic Tips

  • Infographics are much more complex and well researched than simple graphics. These require a deep understanding of subject matter and design. Don’t attempt adding this as a part of your social strategy unless you have access to both these talents.
  • Finalize the promotion plan before creating an infographic. Most of the social platforms do not render infographics well.
  • You can always reuse the infographics by converting it into a blog or a video.

Webinars

If you haven’t tried webinars as a part of your B2B social media strategy, I would highly recommend you venture into it in the coming year. Since webinars offer a great opportunity to learn from the experts, B2B buyers prefer these during their research phase. Webinars can also help in generating qualified leads and moving the prospects up in the interest ladder.

B2B Webinar Tips

  • The success of the webinar heavily depends on the speaker and the webinar topic. Make sure that you not only have a great topic but also have an equally wonderful, established, expert speaker to deliver the webinar.
  • Have a concrete promotion plan in place – leverage the network of your employees, partners, and customers to promote the webinars.
  • It’s a good idea to give away a whitepaper or eBook on a related topic as a part of the webinar giveaway.
  • Make the webinar recording available post the webinar for those who miss attending it
  • For more tips of making the webinars successful, here is a more detailed post.

What does this mean for your content strategy?

Apart from the content types mentioned above, there are also other types of content which you can create such as case studies, videos, presentations, eBooks, testimonials, emails, social updates etc. When it comes to creating your content strategy and deciding the type of content to create, honestly there is no one answer. It totally depends on who your potential buyers are, on which platforms they are searching for information, and what types of content they are consuming.

If you are just starting with content marketing and social media, possibly blogs are the easiest to start with. Videos, although very impactful, are difficult to produce. Case studies and presentations are something which you will require irrespective of your strategy. Get into Whitepapers and eBooks once you have a strong blogging strategy and execution in place.

Lastly, do remember that just creating content is not enough. You need to promote it too. So when you plan for your content creation efforts, don’t forget to have a strong content promotion plan in place!

Our Experience of Hosting the First of its Kind B2B Sales and Marketing Event and Making It Super Successful

As a B2B specialist social media agency, we get many opportunities to interact with several business owners and marketers to discuss about how the dynamics of sales are changing, what is the impact of social media and content marketing on that, how are companies adapting to the new ways of selling, and so on. During our conversations, we realized that while there is lack of understanding in this area and a lot of curiosity about it, there is no common platform where people can come together, discuss, and learn from each other.

At Midas Touch, we had been contemplating creating such platform since a long time and finally we decided to take the first step towards it by organizing the first of its kind event. The event was titledWhy B2B Sales Must Harness the Power of ‘Digital Marketing’ to Go International” and we decided to have it on 24th Nov, 2017.

The Speakers and The Program

We knew that the key highlight of any event is the panel of speakers. We decided that the speakers have to be the industry experts who have “been there done that”. The people who have seen the revolution themselves and have adapted it. The people who truly “understand” B2B sales and marketing from their own experiences. We also wanted the attendees to not only understand the concept but also leave with some practical key takeaways which they can start implementing immediately. The whole program was then defined keeping in mind these objectives.

We are very thankful to Vishwas Mahajan and Ashutosh Parasnis, who came and presented their views at this event, outlined the evolution, the changing face of B2B marketing, and the importance of strong strategy and flawless execution.

Next was a panel discussion moderated by Sanjeev with Shivesh, Avani, and Ashutosh Saitwal as the panellists. The panellists very honestly shared their experiences – not only the success stories but also their failures and the lessons learned from those. Filled with lots of examples and practical tips, the panel discussion gave extremely good insights into the B2B sales and marketing process. Our sincere thanks to all these experts.

#PuneB2BSocial Panel Discussion

The best part of the program was that all the sessions were very interactive – the audience not only asked questions but also shared their experiences. Lot of attendees also learned where they are failing and what could be the reasons.

The Ecosystem Support

#PuneB2BSocial-Ecosystem Partners
We approached various associations and bodies for their support for this event. TiE Pune, Pune Open Coffee Club, HeadStart Pune, Indo American Chamber of Commerce, Software Exporters Association of Pune, Pune Digital Marketers, and GLOW – Global Organization for Women – all of these were our ecosystem partners who helped us in spreading the word about the event. After all, when you are creating such unique platform, you need all the support from the existing associations and bodies.

The Social Buzz

As a social media agency, we have a strong belief in the power of social media. After the event was conceptualized and announced, we had one month till the date of the event. The social platforms started buzzing with the hashtag #PuneB2BSocial – we started talking about the event, the speakers, what to expect, some interesting insights into how B2B marketing is changing, etc. Registrations started coming in through this buzz and before we knew it, we had a full house!

We prepared a list of potential attendees who we thought will benefit from this event and reached out to them through one-on-one messages on LinkedIn.

We created an event on Facebook and specifically invited people to join in.

Our learning – Twitter worked extremely well in driving traffic to the event page. Facebook helped in creating the awareness and LinkedIn helped in reaching out to specific individually on a one-on-one basis.

During the event, we covered the event live on Twitter through live tweets and photos and Facebook through Live videos. The attendees also shared their views by joining in the conversations and within the first two hours of the start of the event, it was trending on top on Twitter.PuneB2BSocial Twitter Trending

The Team with the Midas TouchTeam Midas Touch

The Midas Touch team worked really hard to ensure that the event was successful – right from managing the registration counter, handling the venue arrangements, managing the Q & A rounds, and most importantly, covering the event live on social platforms – the team did it all! Kudos to everyone!

PuneB2BSocial - Midas Touch Team

The Result

A full house. An extremely interactive audience. Loads of learning. Event hashtag trending on Twitter for over 6 hours. And most importantly, a validation of our belief that a common platform for B2B sales and marketing was needed and we have been able to establish that. We aim to host more such events in the future. Hope to see those who missed it this time!