B2B – it’s still about people.
As depressed economies, post-2008, have resulted in huge drops in consumer spending, markets have squeezed margins throughout the B2B supply chain trying to come up with a competitive offer that the customer is actually able to pay.
One result of that is that the return on investment lens has been focused on ensuring that all monies spent are making the optimum contribution.
The trouble with ROI is that it makes us head for whatever is easy to measure so that we can at least measure something. Almost inevitably that will mean we produce an efficient ROI with what is not necessarily the most effective marketing strategy.
When social media first became a concept some ten years ago or so, it seemed just that – social – the province of friends and students chattering away endlessly about not very much. Then, gradually, its potential in consumer marketing was realised and terms like SEO, keywords and links were sewn into the core of the strategy.
But in B2B the potential just wasn’t realised, and the opportunity has been only slowly and recently explored. OK, the social media themselves have expressed considerable ambiguity in their reaction the use for promotion, particularly while still in idealistic first generation ownership.
Full frontal promotion is frowned upon, and quite rightly, because that’s not what the social networks want – peripheral advertising they accept as making the world go round, too much and they will vote with their feet.
If any sector should have got using social media right it is B2B. Supplier-customer relationships have always been based on building the relationships between individuals; sales person and buyer, operations and service people. And often those relationships have been forged in social settings, during a round of golf or a game of snooker.
Calculating the ROI on that round of golf was never an issue but we knew it worked. Today, we don’t have time for the golf or the snooker but we should make time for getting to know our customer and those we wish to be our customers.
From now on Linkedin beats the links hands down.