I have been away from New Zealand for over five years. Life in New York and London moves pretty fast, so coming home to little old New Zealand has been quite a shock to the system. But the country is waking up to a more global worldview and embracing design and creativity. It turns out that things in paradise have changed a lot recently. I thought I’d take a moment to share some of the biggest changes that have occurred in my absence.
Dr Ross Brennan is the author of Business-to-Business Marketing which is the leading international text book on marketing for companies that sell their products and services to other companies. Dr Brennan’s textbook proved to be a key resource while I was researching my new book on social media ‘Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies‘.
I wrote ‘Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies’ primarily about B2B companies because they have unique challenges in managing their reputations online and reaching business customers. Dr Ross Brennan was kind enough to write a foreword to the book which has now been included in the latest edition. I’ve also reproduced it here as a guest blog post. Enter Dr Ross Brennan…
Getting a social media programme started for a professional services firm is surprisingly hard. My book Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies is focused on technology businesses but professional services firms have many of the same issues as B2B tech companies (who are often selling consulting along with their software). I love helping other consultants with social media because I’ve met so many people who come across so poorly online, even though they are great in real life
Strategy consultants usually already have a social strategy but the gap is in implementation. The most common problem for product businesses is a lack of strategy and clarity. These are less of an issue for public relations and business strategy consultants whose stock in trade is strategic thinking. But somehow these firms still struggle with their own social media activities.
We are in the middle of the biggest change in business communications since the printing press. The move to mobile email, video calling and social media has made business communications faster and potentially, more personal. When my first boss started his career they used to correspond by post which took a week to arrive. It was a big deal when the firm installed a Telex Machine (like a morse code typewriter) because the message was delivered on the same day that it was written. It’s now easier than ever before to give an important customer a small tickle to let them know that you’re thinking of them.
My new book on social media for tech companies is out now. It’s all about how to use social media to target bigger and bigger clients. Too many social media books just cover mass consumer advertising and teach companies how to spam everyone. This book is for successful professionals inside tech companies and other businesses that need to build real relationships with a decision-maker before closing the sale.
Social media is often the least respected part of the marketing mix. With an internet full of cat pictures and funny home videos it’s easy to see why social media isn’t taken seriously by business leaders. This is a dangerous mistake because digital communication is disrupting almost every industry. Part of the problem is that most books on social media aren’t rigorous enough to have serious business credibility in unsexy technology and B2B industries.
So, where is the best thinking on social media today? It turns out that it’s hidden in plain sight in the business literature on word-of-mouth, competitive strategy and innovation. I’m a bit of a business book geek and I’ve read literature about business and strategy since I was a teenager. I started on Tom Peters and soon discovered Peter Drucker and Michael Porter. Seth Godin was a revelation for me. These days I devour everything from Mitch Joel and Hugh Macleod.
Too many social media professionals don’t understand how to market to a cynical business audience. They get lulled into a false sense of security because many B2B (business-to-business) sales look just like B2C (business-to-consumer) sales. After all, we’re all people. But really hardcore B2B marketing (to large, unsexy, enterprise clients) is a whole different ball game. Really serious businesses have long and complex sales-cycles involving multiple decision-makers and even a formal “business case” for your product.
A good B2B Social Media Book would have lots practical examples from unsexy industries and be grounded in rigorous business strategy. I’ve been working on the book to bring together the best of the marketing industry’s knowledge on enterprise scale B2B social media.
A lot of the techniques and tricks are simply a digital update of old-school sales tools from companies like IBM, Oracle, Cisco, Siemens and General Electric. B2B social media should be years ahead of B2C, because of the long-standing appreciation of the importance of personal relationships. But it’s not. Continue reading B2B Digital Marketing Book
Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard for lawyers to build an online reputation? Everything is so public. There is a common fear about client confidentiality and not wanting to appear to be touting for business. Social media can seem like a chaotic place and law firms need to maintain a certain gravitas.
If you don’t take charge and actively manage your identity online then you are just leaving your reputation to chance. I’ve seen too many friends who’s online reputations don’t live up to how good a lawyer they are. This makes me sad.
There is too much waffle in social media consulting. As a result, B2B businesses aren’t taking enough responsibility for their own social media presences. B2B companies should be great at social media, but they’re not.
I’ve spotted five myths that have got to change if social media is going to become a credible part of B2B companies. It’s time to start treating social media with the same commercial discipline that every other part of your business faces.