Tag Archives: B2B marketing

How to earn trust to initiate offline engagement using B2B online marketing

BHKXXE Businessmen signing up a contract

In my article titled What you should be doing online to attract new business opportunities, one of the points I raise relates to building trust with prospective clients. People ask for advice or make purchasing decisions from trusted advisors, and trust has to be earned and takes time to develop. Once trust is lost, it is exceedingly difficult to regain, if at all.

A good comparison that I will use for the purpose of this article is that of the dating game. I have listed five stages in a human relationship and equated these with B2B online marketing, in order to demonstrate how you gain trust by treating prospective clients as you would your first date, and your ongoing relationship thereafter.

1. The introduction

Introductions are generally facilitated by mutually known friends, colleagues or family members. In most cases, the introducer knows you well. This generally occurs in business too. A client, colleague or business partner who can vouch for your honesty, credibility and trustworthiness will introduce you to prospective clients without prompting or upon your request. If trust has not been earned, there is little or no chance of this happening.

2. The first date

The first date either makes or breaks a potential relationship. There are many determining factors which include similar interests, shared values and the all important “chemistry”. When asked what is important most people do not talk about looks. They want the person to be themselves (i.e. genuine), they should display an interest in the other person and they should make the other person laugh.

When we equate dating with online marketing, you should focus your efforts on “being genuine” with no hidden agenda, display an understanding and interest in the potential client’s industry and the typical business challenges they have to deal with. I suggest that you DO NOT talk about yourself in terms of your company’s products, services and solutions. This information should be available on your website and the prospect will have a look at this information when the time is right.

3. Subsequent dates

If you follow the rules there is a good chance that there will be a second, third and fourth date and your relationship will grow and strengthen. During this process you are getting to know each other more and more which will result in a mutual knowledge of each other’s good points and flaws. Generally compromise and understanding comes into play because no-one is perfect. If at any point trust is broken, this could end the relationship for good.

To get the second (and subsequent) dates, B2B online marketers have to present the potential client with a compelling reason to continue the relationship. This is best achieved by generating value-adding, interesting, compelling business-related content which the prospect will have access to through an email or blog subscription or engagement and interaction on social media.

4. The proposal

If all goes well with your dating, at some point, the question of a more permanent arrangement will be initiated. The process normally involves “going steady” followed by a marriage proposal. This will either be accepted or rejected.

B2B online marketing, if executed properly, is an ideal way to build credibility and trust over time, and in so doing, you will be seen as a trusted advisor who will stay “top of mind” through continuous value-adding online interaction. If the content and interaction with prospective clients resonates with them, there is a good chance they will contact you should they require assistance or advice and request a proposal. If you are using the appropriate tools to monitor online interaction, you will be able to identify individuals who are consuming your content and you can request a meeting.

5. The wedding

The wedding or close may take place online or offline, depending on whether you are selling products, services and solutions online or not. This article is aimed at companies that sell professional services, products and solutions that are not sold online. You can build a certain level of credibility and trust online using B2B online marketing however the relationship needs to be taken offline in order to meet your prospective client face-to-face.

If you use B2B online marketing effectively, this will assist you in initiating offline engagement. The plus factor is that when you have the first offline meeting, credibility and trust has been developed already.

Summary

B2B online marketing can be a very effective tool to build credibility, stay top of mind with prospective clients and to initiate offline engagement, if executed correctly. Remember that you are interacting with human beings with whom you need to develop a relationship and an emotional connection. Remember to be genuine, share content regularly that resonates with the prospect, do not talk about yourself and be patient.

This article was written by David Graham, Digital Engagement Leader at Deloitte Digital

David is a thought leader in the Business to Business (B2B) digital marketing, relationship marketing and content marketing space and is the “go-to” person at Deloitte Digital for businesses who wish to connect, interact and influence business decision makers online, in order to initiate offline engagement. David has more than 20 years in sales and marketing roles at leading global software and management consulting organisations, engaging with executive decision makers and providing them with solutions to business challenges.

If you would like to have a more detailed B2B online marketing discussion with David Graham, connect on LinkedIn, follow on Twitter or email at davgraham@deloitte.co.za

Follow Deloitte Digital on Twitter or visit the Deloitte Digital website to get a taste of how Deloitte Digital can help digitise your brand

Online marketing and how it influences your sales pipeline

online marketing image

To assist me in articulating to my clients how online marketing aligns with a typical sales process, I produced a diagram which shows the different stages in the marketing and sales process and how online marketing is used to drive leads, prospects and sales opportunites down the sales funnel.

online marketing pipeline

1. Awareness

Using a combination of your company website, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing, content marketing, your personal or company blog, social media marketing and smart phone and tablet apps, you create awareness and build credibility and encourage people to follow, connect, join your groups and subscribe to your blog and newsletter and interact with you.

2. Nurturing subscribers

People who have subscribed to your newsletter have given you permission to communicate with them on a regular basis. This is where you continue to build credibility and stay top of mind. Producing good content is crucial in order to retain subscribers and to encourage them to continue consuming your content and sharing your content with their respective communities.

3. Offline sales activity

This is where you make the transition from an online to an offline engagement and where the online channel can still play a part in building credibility. This is where you meet face-to-face with prospective clients, build relationships and present proposals.

4. Closing business

The is the last phase of the sales process and the start of an ongoing relationship with your new client. This is still an important element of your online marketing process because new and existing clients will (hopefully) provide favourable references online and can potentially allow you to publish case studies and testimonials on your website.

 

8 C’s to get the best bang for the buck from your B2B online marketing

b2b

Based on my digital marketing efforts and experience to date, I have identified eight areas where you need to focus your efforts to optimise the effectiveness and return on investment from the business-to-business online marketing process within your organisation.

If you would like to continue this conversation in more detail, I welcome your comments at the end of the blog post or interact with me on LinkedIn and Twitter

1. Content

Adequate production of suitable thought ware across your relevant service lines and industries is an absolutely essential.  The content you create must “showcase” the products, solutions and services your organisation provides. The content you produce should be suited for the different channels you manage. For an email introducing an article, the article in question should be quite detailed, content for a blog post should be shorter and to the point. If you are using YouTube, arrange to have a short video clip produced where the thought leader discusses the specific content.    

2. Channels

Constantly review your processes to optimise the digital channels you are utilising. Remember that you are dependent on the channels your prospective clients choose to use. Monitor the market on a regular basis. Try new things. Poll your prospects and clients and ask them what they prefer. Marketers who anticipated Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube as future channels of choice for their prospects and clients will have benefitted from this foresight.

3. Change Management

You cannot manage B2B digital marketing in isolation. It has to be owned by the entire business.  Develop a change management strategy to educate the relevant persons within your business on the positive effects they will experience by utilising the digital channels effectively. Showing them how to create a Twitter account and how to tweet is not enough. Take them through the full process from cradle to grave and show some examples of business meetings being created, proposals being requested and business deals won.  Make B2B Digital marketing part of your organisation’s DNA!

4. Communities

The products, services and solutions you provide will determine how your market will prefer to interact with you. Figure this out and build your communities accordingly. Once you have acquired a Like, Follow, Connection, subscription, make sure you nurture this audience appropriately. If you are targeting a finite, known market, do the research and identify who you are connecting with and devise a strategy to develop an online relationship with the rest.  Don’t worry about quantities but rather on the quality of the conversations you are having. Identify social media influencers, relevant people in the media and brand advocates and look after them.

5. CVs

If you are using digital effectively, it is a good idea to create online resumes for all your thought leaders. If you share a thought piece and include the name of the thought leader, you should also provide a link to the person’s LinkedIn profile. Their LinkedIn profile should contain a decent photograph, a good summary explaining their personal value proposition and adequate connections, endorsements and recommendations.

6. Call back

Successful B2B digital marketing models have a golden thread from start to finish. At a specific point in the B2B marketing process, you may have to pass leads onto your sales team or someone responsible for taking the process to the next step.  As a follow up to all B2B digital marketing campaigns, the relevant persons need to follow up timeously and ask for appointments, set up meetings, ask if the person requires additional information, etc.

7. Closing the loop

Obtaining adequate feedback from the business in terms of meetings, requests for proposals and business won is very important. Make of point of asking the “business” on a regular basis on what happened with the leads you sent them. File this information away so that you can report back to the business on a later stage on all the successes as a result of your B2B didgital marketing activities.

8. Compliance

There are all kinds of legislation already out there and proposed amendments that may be passed soon. Consult with a digital communication legal specialist, get them to assess your existing environment and to provide you with feedback in terms of where you do not comply with existing legislation, what you need to do in order to comply and what plans you should be putting in place now in order to comply with legislation that is coming soon. This can be a big differentiator for you if your competitors are not doing anything about it.

I hope these eight points will be of assistance to you. Do you have any comments? Have I left something out? Do you agree or disagree with some of the points?  I would love to hear from you. 

6 great tips for selling yourself online

In my latest article published on the Memeburn website, I discuss B2B digital marketing and present some tips on how to sell yourself or your business online.

6 great tips for selling yourself online

I was contacted by a potential client a few weeks back and when we had our initial meeting I asked the question, “Why did you contact me?” The answer I received is what everyone in digital wants to hear: “Every time I googled, your name kept appearing in the search results”. I never asked for specifics because at that point I realised that the model I adopted was working for me.

Without going into the nitty gritty details of the model, I have listed its key ingredients. I cannot guarantee this will work for everyone, but it appears to be working for me.

Click Here to read 6 great tips for selling yourself online on the Memeburn website

I will be most grateful if you would share this article with your network!

6 things that will guarantee B2B social failure

Having spent some time participating on most of the popular social networks from a B2B social media marketing perspective, I have listed a number of things you can do to ensure your social media efforts fail dismally. Commit these cardinal sins and some of the scenes from Dante’s Inferno will seem like a picnic by comparison.

1. No “buy-in” from the entire organisation Social media is not a one man band. It is something that involves your whole organisation. Your community manager may be the primary voice of your organisation but it requires a collective effort from everyone. It is a many-to-many relationship and all employees should participate enthusiastically.

2. Organisational culture not shining through In a recent article entitled Three Reasons Why Happy Brands Win in Social Media, Chris Dessi states “Social media, it has been said can be the ultimate BS meter. You can “fake” happiness for a short period of time, but it is highly difficult to fake it in the long-term. This tends to trip up companies that don’t take social media seriously, don’t have a social media seriously, don’t have a social media strategy, and have a weak corporate culture”.

3. No engagement with your major stakeholders There is absolutely no point in participating on any social network if you haven’t done your homework first and identified who you want to engage with and where they are on the Internet. There are many tools and directories you can use to find out where your target market is and who (VERY IMPORTANT) influences them. Obtain this information first before you do anything.

4. No engagement strategy in place Do not haphazardly bombard your followers, Likes, subscribers with content (however good it is) without developing a proper engagement strategy first. Make sure you understand how your target market prefers to consume content and how they want to engage with you. Remember this will differ dependent on the communication channel. Test continuously. If something doesn’t work, try something else. The important thing here is the emphasis on ENGAGING!

5. No measurement Before participation, agree on the key performance indicators (and there are many) you will measure across each channel. Make sure you get your primary stakeholders to agree on the KPI’s and the measurement criteria. Three key measures we use are conversions (new subscribers, Likes, Follows, etc), number of conversations, number of physical engagement (ie meeting) and new deals.

6. Inadequate budget We have presented a number of clients with proposals to develop and operationalise their social media strategies and they have baulked at the figures presented. Social media is not a “back office” function, managed by a “low-level” individual. It is the complete opposite.

I hope this provides you with some food for thought before you embark on your B2B social media marketing quest. If you have anything to add, I will love to hear from you.

6 things you can do to get your LinkedIn group discussions humming!

Does this sound all too familiar?

“I created a number of LinkedIn groups and promoted them on all my digital channels. I shared content and seeded discussions on a regular basis and promoted these using the share features on the group. When I did my mailers I also included links to the group discussions. I shared discussions on other groups I joined, but I am not seeing the results I expected”.

Here are 6 things you can do that may prompt more dialogue in your LinkedIn groups

1. Purpose of the group

Be very clear when deciding on a name for the group, describing the purpose of the group and what benefits members will derive from the group. The will help you set expectations up front.

2. Vet every request

Do not allow anyone to join your group without your permission. Do not be scared to turn people away. There are many unsavoury characters out there whose sole purpose is to promote themselves and their services. These people will not add any value at all.

3. Seeding and managing discussions

Group members will not start talking without the right prompts. Ask explicitly for your member’s opinion on specific subject matter. Attempt to respond to every comment and ask additional questions to prompt further discussion. Do NOT allow anyone to start discussions or make comments without your permission. This may be time-consuming but is the only way you will maintain a good standard.

4. Invite and promote

When promoting discussions with your LinkedIn connections, group members, other groups and other social networks, attempt whenever possible to invite specific individuals, subject matter specialists and social media influencers to participate in the discussion. If the conversation starts faltering, invite other individuals to join the discussion.

5. Keep it topical and relevant

Content is the most important factor in any discussion. You HAVE to ensure that the subject matter is topical and relevant.

6. Less is more!

Do not attempt to manage too many groups and conversations simultaneously otherwise you will fail. Manage a small number of groups and ensure the conversations are high quality.

Summary

Let members understand what they will get out of your group and set expectations. Vet all new members and comments made by members. Respond to all comments where possible and invite subject matter specialists to the conversations. Keep the discussions topical and relevant. Focus on quality rather than quantity.

Is there anything you would like to add to this? I would love to hear from you!

10 different ways you can communicate with your target market on LinkedIn

Unlike any of the other social networks being used by B2B marketers to build brand awareness, establish new relationships and generate new business leads, LinkedIn provides a plethora of communication options which I have listed below.

Sending a connection request

To generate new connections, LinkedIn provides a facility to send a connection request. Bear in mind that the assumption is you were previously acquainted with the person to whom you are sending the connection request, hence the options presented when you send the request (ie colleague, classmate, we’ve done business together, friend, groups, other). Bear in mind that if the person advises LinkedIn that they do not know you, this is recorded. When you reach a specific threshold, you will no longer be allowed to send connection requests.

Requesting an introduction

You have the capability of sending a connection request through an existing connection. It is relatively easy to do this. When viewing the person’s profile (to whom you wish to connect), click on the “Get introduced through a connection” option and follow the prompts.

Sending messages to an existing connection

This is a pretty straight forward process. When viewing the connection’s profile, click on the “Send a message” option and hey presto!

Sending bulk messages

You are able to compose a message and send it to many recipients. What is great about this feature is that you can specify locations and industries. This works well if you have content you want to share with connections within, for example, the Banking industry.

Sending Inmails

InMails are private messages that let you send business and career opportunities directly to any LinkedIn user. InMail allows you to contact or be directly contacted by 2nd or 3rd degree contacts as well as LinkedIn users who are not in your network.

Invitation to join LinkedIn groups

If you manage a LinkedIn group, there are a number of options available to invite persons to join your LinkedIn group. You can type existing connection name and email addresses or share the invitation with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Send an announcement from LinkedIn groups

For existing LinkedIn group members, you are allowed to send one group announcement a week. This will be emailed to all group members

New discussion on LinkedIn profile or groups

A new discussion posted on your profile will be shared with all your contacts. You can then share this discussion with the LinkedIn groups you manage, other LinkedIn groups you belong to, Twitter and specified LinkedIn connections and email addresses.

Comments on LinkedIn groups

For all LinkedIn groups, you are able to comment on all discussion. This can be a general comment which is viewed by all or a private comment to a specific individual.

Extracting contact details of existing LinkedIn connections

For all existing LinkedIn connections, LinkedIn provides you with the facility to extract your LinkedIn contact details to an Excel spread sheet. You must obviously exercise discretion in terms of ewhat you do with this information.

Summary

LinkedIn provides you with many options to communicate effectively with your target connections and existing connections and to publicise existing content to other social networks you belong to.

Is there other communication options provided by LinkedIn that I have overlooked? Have you had positive or negative experiences with these features and functions? I would love to hear from you!