B-to-B: Where Social Media Meets Direct Marketing
Business marketers have embraced social media with enthusiasm. One of the reasons social media is working so well in B-to-B, in my opinion, is that business marketers tend to wear their direct marketing hats when they strategize and plan how to apply social media to their marketing objectives. So they get a lot of measurable value from social media, and they pull it into their programs as a full-fledged member of the integrated marketing mix. In B-to-B, social media and direct marketing have-in other words-met, hit it off, and developed a long-term relationship.
To back up and support my argument, let me offer a working definition for direct marketing: Direct marketing describes communications that are structured to motivate a response. Direct marketing communications are characterized by:
- Being delivered to a carefully targeted audience;
- Containing a motivational offer, a call to action and a response vehicle;
- Collecting the responses in a database;
- Expecting the results to deliver a measurable ROI.
By this definition, a direct marketing message can be delivered anywhere. It is truly "media neutral." It can work in direct mail and email, but also in print, on billboards, on television and radio. And in social media.
In fact, social media represent an ideal direct marketing medium. When social media first arrived on the scene, they were widely viewed by marketers as a way to "get the word out" (which means awareness) and bring traffic to a website.
But increasingly, marketers are getting much more "DM-y" about social media. In this year's Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 58 percent of marketers said they were using it to generate leads. Last year, in 2011, only 7 percent said that. A big change. Small businesses were even more likely, at 65 percent, to focus on lead generation in social media.
Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools around the world. She is past chair of the DMA Business-to-Business Council, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain's BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM and holds an MBA from Columbia University.