Social media, and it’s role in content marketing for B2B companies, has earned its stripes. As a marketing tactic, social media ranked second only to SEO in a new report by eMarketer, based on data from Demandbase and ZiffDavis.
The report titled, For B2B Marketers, Building Relationships Trumps Blanket Approach, points out two underlying trends: B2B marketers are increasingly focusing their content marketing efforts on social media first, by customer needs, and second by buyer persona.
This means putting the research efforts into developing high quality relevant content aimed to fulfill (or stoke) the needs of a prospect. It’s nurture marketing, and like SEO was intended, increasingly designed to enable buyers to seek out a company, rather than the other way around.
For B2B marketers on board already with content marketing, this is a good news. First it dispels the notion that social media is focused on virality — that Tweet heard around the world — and refocuses efforts on the hard work of building trust. Content marketing, indeed social media, is a marathon, not a sprint.
The chasm between B2B companies creating content and those who don’t will widen.
Second, for those that are not, then as Jeffrey L. Cohen wrote on Social Media B2B “The chasm between B2B companies creating content and those who don’t will widen.” Widen indeed, and perhaps getting steeper by the moment. It’s heartbreak hill for the marathoners.
Digging into needs of the buyer
eMarketer points out that knowing what needs to be done, that is having the deep understanding of needs to develop compelling content, and getting it done, are a measured distance apart. “Half of respondents said they did not have a basic understanding of what their target markets were and who they could sell to—a sobering response for those ready to go all in on a vertical B2B approach,” says the study.
— Roger Friedensen (@RogerFriedensen) January 4, 2013
So where to begin?
1. Define the target market. A target market is not everyone with a wallet. A basic tenet of marketing is to define the characteristics of the space we intend to reach. Markets are classically defined by vertical, say education, or manufacturing or telecom, but the target market and also be defined by function, say the advertising, finance or IT. Marketers should drill down further by defining the size: revenue, employees, and organization.
2. Take stock of your social media communities. Ever really dive into the analytics for a Facebook fan page? There’s a wealth of data breaking down the makeup of your community by age, gender and geography. There are a variety of tools that will help analyze the makeup of our communities on other social network. The gap, for CRM system analysts, is the ability to understand who in our social media communities are also customer records in a tool like Salesforce. It’s a revenue opportunity for both the likes of Facebook and CRM providers. No tool has cracked the CRM code; not yet.
3. Create buyer personas. With market defined, we as marketers need to asses the persona of a buyer. Do they have purchase authority or are they a user that influences buying decisions? Focus groups, surveys, and conversations with customer and the sales people that managed customer accounts are paramount here and can be combined and weighted with data in social analytics to develop a clear picture of the buyer, their pain points and their needs. We we understand this data, we have the ground work to avoid the trough of content marketing disillusionment, and develop engaging content that helps customers find you.
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