I recently spoke with a prospective client interested in adopting a B2B social media strategy. Her expressed objective was to expand customer reach and to save some money on marketing along the way. Apparently, upper management was intrigued by all the free social media tools and had noticed the competition’s activity in the social space.
I naturally broached the objectives for engagement, the audiences they’d want to reach, the customer challenges they could speak to, the objective expertise they could provide ongoing, their available content resources, etc.
But with a tone of clarification, she said what they really hoped to do was to tell more people about their products. Apparently, the relationship business was the domain of her sales department, not marketing. At that point, I took a deep breath. And to be fair, we continued through an insightful and delightful conversation that revealed quite a bit about her uphill climb in the established culture of a successful B2B organization.
This experience reminded me of something Constant Contact’s Gail Goodman said at a talk last year: You’ve got to have faith that customer engagement is the anchor that will hold your business together.
To me, this statement serves as a point of departure for any serious modern marketer. Marketing hasn’t changed because of all the new tools, the tools have changed to accommodate the evolving needs and behaviors of customers. And building customer relationships is now the role of the entire organization.
Customers are seeking insights for making decisions. They need objective info before they buy, and they don’t want to be sold to. They’re involved in a process, on their terms. So our job as marketers is to make it easy for them:
- Help customers find us.
- Offer smart and objective solutions.
- Hold off on the hard sell.
- And keep the engagement going with more relevant content.
And this is where faith comes in: If you’ve engaged the customer over time with insight and respect, she’ll absolutely know how you think, how you solve problems, how you do business. So when it’s time for a sales call, or if she calls you first, you can confidently believe that you’re positioned to make the sale. Indeed, let customer engagement be your anchor.