5 similarities between B2B and B2C marketing

Marketers are all consumers. Sometimes we consume for our personal needs and wants, and sometimes, for our organization. As a B2C marketer, I’ve also played the role of the customer in the B2B marketing process. I’ve researched a product or service that would help my company – including consuming all of that delicious B2B content, like webinars, ebooks and live events – and eventually purchased an enterprise-level product.

Here are 5 similarities I’ve noticed between B2B and B2C marketing.

  1.  It’s all about relationships

    Yep, it’s good to be friendly no matter who your buyer is. And sure, there may appear to be more conversations, content consumption and meetings leading up to the purchase of an enterprise-level product. But think about subscription-based consumer services, like internet access or cell phone service. When you’re considering a long-term commitment to any service provider or complex product, you’re going to want to form a relationship with the seller. Good lifecycle marketing in the “learn” stage of LBGUPS is the key to building that relationship.

  2. A personal touch is always best

    There’s a reason personalization is so big in both B2C and B2B: 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that recognizes them by name. Think about the overlap between these same consumers and business buyers, influencers and decision makers. It figures that buyers on the business side would respond well to personalized B2B marketing, too.

  3. Process matters

    The best way to create a repeatable path to success is with a process. The process a B2B marketer follows may be longer and different from the one a B2C marketer follows, but the fact remains: process matters. Moving from ideation to strategy to tactics is always part of a successful marketing planning process.

  4. Be good to your buyer post-sale

    I guess this could fall under “relationships”, but even if it does, I think it’s worth mentioning twice. Customer service and support are the key to retention and reducing churn. Give them the support they need after the sale with timely product or service tips as well as on-demand and self-serve troubleshooting. Love your customer, and they’ll love you back.

  5. There’s value in being a jack of all trades

    Knowing at least a little bit about a lot of different things can help any marketer. Can you write? Awesome. Got an eye for design? Perfect. Do you understand how to code? Trifecta. Sure, it’s great to have a deep knowledge in a handful of areas, but a jack of all trades brings value to any organization. They can work with colleagues cross-functionally, write proposals, lead projects and manage opportunities and constraints.

Can you think of some other key similarities between yourself and your B or C counterparts? Throw them in the comments!

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The Last 5 Years

Well, where to begin.

It’s been 5 years since my last blog post on this site. In that time, I’ve:

  • Changed companies once, leaving VIA Rail and joining Xplornet Communications
  • Changed my job a number of times, though I’ve kept the same title
  • Got engaged
  • Got married
  • Bought a house
  • Lost my father
  • Had my first kid – a beautiful daughter, named Annie

It’s been quite a ride, and throughout those 5 years, I’ve thought about returning to my personal blog. Life has a way of foiling our best laid plans. While I was expanding my skills and immersing myself in my work and my personal life, I stopped making time to share what I’d been learning, and I really do regret that. That said, spending more time with my family these last few years is something I’ll never regret, and expanding my digital marketing skills beyond social media marketing has been so rewarding – I have new love for growth marketing, data analytics, content marketing, SEO, SEM, coding, and more.

I’ve met some wonderful people thanks to the connections I used to make through my blog, on Twitter and speaking publicly. I miss these connections, and hope I can get reacquainted with old friends and colleagues while meeting new, super smart people. I’ll try to share more regularly here, on Twitter, on Medium, and elsewhere, and will gladly jump back into the conversations my industry colleagues have been carrying on in my absence. Please be gentle 🙂

You can’t change the last 5 years, but you can always work on the next 5.

 

Social Media Week Toronto – It’s Here!

Starting Monday, 12 cities across the world will take part in Social Media Week. For those of you that don’t know what that is, I’ve been describing it as a sort of “unconference” – there is no central venue, and each city has a “producer” that helps coordinate events across the city. Any individual or organization can host an event – this will be VIA Rail’s second time hosting an event – as long as there is a social media theme.

Toronto is the only Canadian city taking part in the week-long celebration of all things social, and I’ll be there learning, sharing and meeting awesome people. Here are my plans – let me know if you’re at any of these events!

Monday, February 13th

Social Media ROI: Myth or Reality? 5:30PM at The Fairmont Royal York

In partnership with the Fairmont Royal York, VIA Rail will be presenting four thought leaders who will share their thoughts on social media return on investment. But first, there will be a pre-conference train between Montreal and Toronto the morning of the event. Invited bloggers and social media influencers will discuss a variety of topics as they travel on board a private car to Toronto. Check out #SMWTOROI for great insights and conversations throughout the day and into the night!

Be sure to come back later in the week for case studies, conference audio, photos and more!

Tuesday, February 14th

How to ‘Steak’ Your Claim as a Social Media Foodie – 7:30AM at The Fairmont Royal

A Valentines Day breakfast tweet up introduces The Fairmont Royal York hotel’s new Executive Chef, while a panel of Toronto culinary influencers (Suresh Doss @spotlightcity, Jamie Drummond @goodfoodrev and Rebecca LeHeup @OntarioCulinary) engage Valentines fork play and what makes compelling #foodie content.

Entrinsic Presents: Inside the numbers, an analytics forecast and review – 11AM at BMO Bank of Montreal

At a time when business users have easier access to metrics and on-the-fly reports than ever before – where deep analytics and metric-based reports are a drag and drop away – we all struggle to bring insight, context, and predictability to the data we receive. What do the numbers mean? And what do we do with them?

Thursday, February 16th

The Social Media Ref – 2:45PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

Join us as the Social Media Ref moderates in-depth discussions of different social media perspectives from key Canadian influencers – bloggers, journalists and PR pros. Two 18-minute competition-style panels will take on hot social media topics, with the Social Media Ref determining one collaborative solution for each panel.

Getting serious about travel blogging – 5PM at The Gladstone Hotel

A panel of representatives from the travel industry, the media, PR, travel writing and travel blogging will examine a variety of questions — all within the “empowering change through collaboration” theme of the conference. Hosted by Toronto Travel Massive. For more information visit Toronto Travel Massive.

Friday, February 17th

Entrinsic Presents: Bilingual brands in the digital space – 10AM at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Livestreamed here)

I’ll be part of the panel for this one, speaking with Amy Blackmore of Fringe Montreal and others about what it takes to run a bilingual brand in the digital space.

 

The Mind of a Community Manager

I’m not sure how I missed this inforgraphic on Community Manager Appreciation Day last month (mark your calendars!), but I found it today and couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement as I read each role and responsibility. A community manager has a lot of parts to play internally and externally, and this graphic does a great job of summarizing some of the big ones.

Developed by Heather Champ and found on the Social Studies blog – be sure to give them each a visit and take in their collective knowledge!

Moleskine Monday: Plans for a Masterpiece

Just kidding. It was a productive weekend, and I did find some time to put on the thinking cap. Here’s a summary of some things that ended up in my notebook.

The Future of Community: A standard interview (or dating!) question is “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. If you were to have asked my this question 5 years ago, I never would have guessed I’d be a Community Manager. I’d even wager that there was no official title for managing a community 5 years ago.

Where will we be with social media and communities in 5 years? It’s hard to say. I don’t even know what the next big network will be, even though I experiment with them as they come up. Do you know why? Because I’ll be waiting for the community to show me the way. There’s no need to make a jump every time there’s a shiny new network or tool. It’s fun (and important) to experiment, but communities are made up of GROUPS of individuals. While one individual cannot dictate what’s next, a group of individuals that create a critical mass can. Seth Godin talked about this in his post “Guy #3“. I’ll be waiting for guy #3 to make an appearance and help lead the charge for his community – I’ll be right there working with him.

Bilingualism in Social Media: I work for a bilingual brand, and that means that my broadcast communications always need to be in 2 languages. I also need to be prepared to communicate with individuals in their language of choice. It can be a challenge when working on a tight deadline, when I have to rely on others for translated content, or when I’m trying to get someone an answer to their question in a timely fashion. Processes, procedures, style guides and more help keep the tone and manner of our communications consistent, both across various types of content and languages.

On a related note, I’ll be speaking about bilingualism in the digital space as part of stand-out panel at Social Media Week Toronto.  There’s still some space left for any one who is local, and I’ll be posting a summary here for those who aren’t.

It’s Not All Business: That’s right, I actually do things that aren’t related to social media! This weekend it was paintball for a friends birthday. Of course, I started to try and draw some analogies, metaphors and general comparisons between paintball and work, but I was too busy trying not to get hit! It did help me remember that it’s important to always make time for our real-world relationships and interactions, as well as our personal interests. Not everything that’s online is important, and not everything that’s important is online.

Building (and Breaking!) Relationships Through Social Media

This post was originally published in April 2011 on my old blog. As always, the content and concept is still relevant today. 

A recent ExactTarget report titled The Social Break-Up (Wait, don’t click yet! Read this post first!) caught my eye in my Twitter stream. The headline caught me and the concept intrigued me, so I filled out a brief form, providing my contact details and email address, and then downloaded the report.

Why am I calling out the process? I’ll explain later.* Let’s talk about the report itself first. There is a focus on e-mail subscriptions, Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers; in each case, ExactTarget provides a “dating profile”, showing consumer stats for the channel, how they like to use the channel (”turn-ons”), and what drives them to not use the channel (”turn-offs”). They also dive into the reasons why consumers break-off this relationship.

There are a number of interesting findings showcasing how Facebook Fans and Twitter followers differ in their reasons for connecting themselves with a company page or profile and their expectations of that connection. Facebook Fans have reasons that vary from showing their public endorsement of the brand to the deisre to stay up-to-date on promotions and offers. Some Fans are just looking to engage with like-minded individuals or the company behind the product. Since these reasons vary so much, it’s tough to tell what an individual consumer is really saying when they hit that “like” button. Twitter users have one general goal in mind: interaction with and accessibility to the company. Therefore, each channel attracts different users, which requires a different strategy to build and maintain a relationship.

On Facebook, brands should be wary of how much they broadcast versus how much they sit back and let their Fans interact. If a company is too pushy, posts too frequents, or gets repetitive and boring, they’ll lose fans that signed up expecting to interact with the company and other Fans. But they’ll be in the good graces of those Fans looking for product information and new offers. Alternatively, if you attracted a fan using a one-time offer (”Like my page and you’ll get a coupon!”), it’s possible that as soon as the offer is fulfilled, the Fan will “un-like” the page. It’s not tough, it’s just the click of a mouse. As ExactTarget says, it’s “like”, not “love”.

So how do you get from “like” to “love”? You build the relationship by providing human interactions – by peeling back the corporate mask and exposing the personality and culture of the brand and the employees who represent it. If you move too quickly and jump straight into selling without first providing valuable content to the Fan or follower, you’ll have about as much chance of closing as a horny 19 year old on a first date (credit@garyvee with that gem). Whether that content is information (quick answers to Twitter questions) or entertainment (an internal video of employees rapping) depends on the audience and the channel.

Finding that sweet-spot is a challenge for all companies engaging with the public, whether it be through traditional or social media. Changing the channel after seeing the same commercial for the 10th time during the hockey game is the equivalent of un-following a company on Twitter that posts their services and website address every hour. On the other hand, if you’re too casual and off of your corporate line, followers might feel you’re not relevant or focused enough for them. An ExactTarget interviewee put it best:

“I think each channel should be customized for that group of people, so that each group feels important. That way, a consumer can follow on Twitter, Facebook, and by email and not be overloaded with the same information”

That’s pretty much the perfect scenario for the company as well: You get to talk to a variety of consumers in a way that’s particularly meaningful and valuable to them. As well, there are even some customers who will follow your brand through a variety of channels because they trust that they’ll receive unique and valuable content through each interaction. And as we all know, good relationships are based on trust!

And of course, all of this data just provides further proof that the number of Fans and followers are not the most important metrics in social media. Just because it’s already in a convenient number that you can compare across different points in time doesn’t mean it is the correct measurement for campaign success. The true value of social media lies in the relationships you build, the creation of brand ambassadors from those Fans and followers, and from growing the lifetime value of customers through honest engagement and communication.

What are your thoughts on building and maintaining relationships through social media? What strategies would you use instead of offers and contests, which potentially “buy” Fans and followers?

 

*Oh right! The call out! When I went looking for the report again through Google, a simple search for “The Social Break-Up” produced the PDF without the need to provide any personal info. This would have been handy, as I have already received a call and multiple emails asking me about my email marketing needs. I’m certain I didn’t give my permission for these communications, and since I didn’t download the report because of its focus on email, I can tick off a few reasons from the report (not relevant! too frequent!) that explain why I have already unsubscribed from future communications. It’s also a tad bit ironic.

Social Media Strategy at VIA Rail

We did a lot of work on our social media strategy at VIA Rail in the first 3/4 of 2011 – of course, we continue to do a lot of work, but this was the heavy lifting required to launch a social media program, internally and externally, at a large national organization. In the last quarter of the year, we presented our strategic approach at a number of events to a wide variety of individuals and organizations.

I’m sharing this presentation so that you can see our approach from last year. For those who are a bit more advanced, I’m sharing some of our results from our participation in Social Media Week Vancouver 2011 (we’re doing Social Media Week Toronto 2012 in February – join us!), and our plan for becoming a “Social Organization”, a vision we have for the company over the next year. Please feel free to share this presentation with your network, and let me know if it helps you get things kicked off, or better yet, moves things into high gear for 2012!