E-commerce Link: Social Hindrances to Progress
If you're launching marketing messages onto social media, please stop. Telling your unique, compelling story and humanizing yourself online? Stop that, too. Listening with social media all in hopes of selling B-to-B products or services? Beware.
While most experts advise putting these things at the core of a social media sales strategy, it will only hinder your ability to create leads and sales. Doing these things will do more harm than good.
Here are the three most popular (yet costly) mistakes B-to-B marketers make with social media and content marketing plans—and what to do instead to create leads and sales.
No. 1: Advertising With Social Media
Using social media to advertise and "get the word out" about your business is a sure-fire losing strategy.
Let me explain. Yes, you need to have a message. This part is obvious. Yet, broadcasting on social platforms in hopes of getting attention and engagement that converts to leads is a losing strategy. Instead, focus on solving customers' problems in ways you can easily connect to what you're selling.
No. 2: Telling Your 'Unique Story'
Contrary to popular opinion, it is best to resist telling customers all about your "unique business story" as part of your social media sales strategy—or even stories about your clients.
Instead, promise prospects a cure for an expressed pain and take them on a journey toward the remedy. Lead them toward (or away from!) your service offering a good story that has a clear, irresistible call to action.
Here's what I mean: What do potential and existing customers care about more in your business? Your culture, origins, how funny or "human" you are? Or your ability to solve problems in innovative ways that help them create distinctive market position and grow?
Reality check: Your clients rarely make decisions on starting or continuing to do business based on your corporate culture, attitude, style or personality. They care more about their own problems or goals.
At best, your corporate culture might help you create a point of distinction that influences their decision. Yet, it won't get you in the door or under serious consideration often enough.
If you want to sell more service contracts, products or generate more B-to-B leads in general, start focusing social marketing on the problems, goals, fears, aspirations or skills your customers need to develop—help them do something that is important to them. Yes, you're doing this for free, but in ways that benefit you, too. Stop placing so much emphasis on telling stories! Instead, use stories to make a point or bring an idea to life–or prove something to clients.
Make stories serve a process that gets you what you want and brings customers closer to joy, too.
Make everything you do with social media answer questions (provide solutions) in ways that provoke a specific response from customers. This engages customers and creates business leads—focused conversations that you can connect to products and services customers need.
No. 3: Listening With Social Media
Monitoring what customers are saying/thinking about your brand is important. Yet what do most marketers do with what they hear? Too often we present metrics like "customer sentiment" to executive officers and walk away. This won't do in 2013.
This is the year smart marketers make the shift from broadcasting on social media platforms and listening for buzz to focusing on the process—tying messages and resulting behaviors together in ways that create more leads, shorter sales cycles and fatter profit margins.
The key to selling more with social media is a process that reaches beyond listening.
We must listen and know what to listen for—the stuff that is useful to helping us sell. With these insights, you've got a great chance to optimize your social selling process.
Here's what I mean: If you're listening (and know what to listen for), customers are always telling you what to blog about, post on Facebook, or what kind of YouTube video they need to create success or avoid a risk. They'll even tell you what keywords to use in your online content marketing tools.
Customers are literally telling you what to do and where to do it with social media! They're saying to us, "I need guidance right here, right now."
Today's B-to-B marketing leaders jump in to respond using social media in ways that involve a social selling process—a new, better way to generate business leads with content marketing.
In fact, by listening for fears, ambitions, goals and skills customers need to develop, you can discover what to be doing with social media—always and in real time. You can know (with certainty) the problems you need to help customers solve or the experiences they're craving to sample.
You can always tap into new ways to create confidence in buyers who want to be confident and often want to buy your services.
By listening for specific insights on customers' worries, concerns, pains and objectives, and feeding this understanding (keywords used, for instance) back into the "social design" of your blog posts, ebooks, Facebook updates, LinkedIn group discussions, etc., you can create leads and sales—the easy way!
Jeff Molander is the author of "Off the Hook Marketing" and adjunct faculty of digital marketing at Loyola University. Reach him at email@example.com and read his blogs at www.jeffmolander.com/blog and www.makesocialsell.com/blog.