I read a report published by IBM a short while ago and have been thinking about it ever since. It’s not that it contains any ground-breaking or revolutionary thought; but it does reinforce something which I think us marketers know instinctively, but somehow lose in the process of “marketing”.
The report is obviously concerned with B2C company products and services more than it is with B2B. But it does have some value for us B2B people…
For those of you who want to cut to the chase, here’s the opening paragraph – the portion which caused me to think more than usual…
Getting closer to customers is a top priority for CEOs, according to the IBM 2010 CEO Study. Today’s businesses are fervently building social media programs to do just this. But are customers as enthusiastic?
Actually, most do not engage with companies via social media simply to feel connected. It turns out, customers are far more pragmatic. To successfully exploit the potential of social media, companies need to design experiences that deliver tangible value in return for customers’ time, attention, endorsement and data.
End of Report Extract
So what do we marketers tend to overlook? Simply that we latch onto a medium and start working it for all its worth because it’s a new and exciting way to reach our target audience. And we do that sometimes (often ?) without fully understanding why the audience is using the medium. I stress here that what’s often elusive is the audience’s motive for using this outlet or platform – it’s clear that our own motivations are to sell more products and services even if we couch that in terms of “marketing efforts” or something more specific like “generating thought-leadership”. But just what makes Fred or Wanda use Facebook when he or she is seated at a desk at work?
Well, according to the report, it’s all about gaining something of value for themselves or their company, and it’s not words of sage advice – it’s money: a discount, a coupon for other products, or actual cash back. In other words, people use Social Media so that they can tell their boss that they asked you to, “Show me the money!”
And for B2C companies, it’s quite easy to give them their wish. You can include your special offer in the text of your message and they can simply click to get it. But for us B2B marketers, it’s not that easy. Or is it?
I’ll defer the answer to my own question for a moment and state why I think the situation is more difficult for B2B companies than B2Cs. When you’re selling a complex B2B solution, before B2B buyers even think about buying something from you, they have to:
- Learn about your solution in enough detail to understand that it would solve their problem
- Trust you to be telling them the truth about (a) your solution, and (b) how it will work in their own environment
- Compare your solution to at least one other one to see if yours is better.
And somewhere around (3), you might be in a position to offer a discount if they click now on this link.
Which brings me to my thought of how difficult is it to offer something of value in this way within the B2B space. A look at our website shows we try on many of its pages with Calls to Action (CTAs) offering a Free SEO Scorecard, or a Free Readiness Survey, or a Free Consultation. But these offers are on our website, not within our Social Media efforts. Our posts, until this one, have not included CTAs. Neither have our Tweets (but again, the next one surely will).
So that’s the thought I’ll leave you with: how to build compelling Calls to Action into your Social Media marketing efforts, which give the recipient real value.
And how’s this for my first attempt?
Call today for a Free Consultation on implementing Inbound Marketing Automation in your company.
Contact us to arrange a free 30 minute conversation with an Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation expert. We’ll happily spend the half hour discussing any topic within our field of expertise, which you would like to learn more about.
Bit-by-Bit # 44 from Eric