Harnessing the Power of Social Media for Business-to-Business Marketing

Ready to harness the power of social media for your company? Then check out my recent article, The Case for Social Media http://www.contingenciesonline.com/contingenciesonline/js2012spring#pg4.

Published in a supplement of the American Academy of Actuaries’ Contingencies Magazine, my article is not just for actuaries. It answers many of the concerns about using social media in business-to-business marketing and strategic communications. There’s also a sidebar on how to get started.

Social media is exciting because it is a great equalizer. A small company has the same Internet access as a large one. As with anything new, its pursuit can be intimidating. Producing quality content online that showcases expertise is the new name of the game.

Traditional means of promotion, such as media relations, producing effective brochures and attending conference booths, still play a role. Going forward quality content for websites and blogs will become the priority, making brochures and other promotional material easier to produce.

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If social media were easy every business on the planet would be engaging.

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This is good news for customers. Websites and social media enable customers to make more confident purchasing decisions as they become more educated and savvy through the plethora of information offered via search engine.

This is also good news for companies that have struggled to write or disseminate their value proposition messages. Social media encourages companies to “show” their uniqueness and not just “tell” customers there is a distinction compared competitors. Now, your company can showcase its expertise instead of simply claiming to be “experts.” My article features other advantages, which far outweigh the challenges.

And there are challenges. If social media were easy every business on the planet would be engaging. Picking up the technology is relatively easy, producing quality and effective content that keeps people coming back is not. And optimizing this tool requires re-thinking marketing strategy.

Social media, as I am learning firsthand, is not really “free,” as its advocates say.  It requires a commitment beyond making so many business calls a week. It requires a level of engagement with customers current and future as never anticipated in the past. One major barrier is consistently writing blogs and coming up with 140 character tweets. That takes time and creativity – if you want people to come back for more.

Small companies, which make up the backbone of the American economy, will likely be more tempted to take the DIY approach. I have taken this approach so I can learn as much as I can to help my clients. Trust me: It’s a huge time investment. I am still learning to master WordPress and ultimate search engine optimization.

But I am not alone. Professional communicators and marketers are also working hard to keep up with all the opportunities social media offers. I particularly like what Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson, director of Media Relations at Milliman said. “Our approach was to be very humble,” he explained, because best practices are emerging and there is still a lot to learn.

I sincerely hope my article will encourage you to engage in social media with your eyes wide open to its benefits and challenges. Even if it means gradual baby steps, do get started!

Please share my article — or fire — at will!




Promising Value through Proposition

Your company must have a value proposition. It identifies what makes your company, and its products and services, unique in ways that benefit current and potential clients. Trust me; a lot of companies do not have them.

Value propositions are promises. In my blog about business plan neglect, I promised my readers blog value by explaining value propositions in more detail. This week, I contributed my blog to aartijk.com. Enjoy!




Marketing Mistake Part III: Wasting Time

Not knowing your audience well enough and wasting money are the first two biggest marketing mistakes. The third is wasting precious time. Opportunities to waste time are endless, but time is not.

Writing can also be a huge waste of time, especially if it does not come naturally.

Many people believe that because they can write the annual family Christmas letter they are good writers. That is like saying that you’re qualified to be an accountant because you can balance your checkbook.

Ineffective content wastes time. Always assume you have one shot to reach a reader. Most people will not read your material over a second time to understand it – especially on web pages where the first mental inpatient reaction can involuntarily click the mouse elsewhere.

Besides failing to get your message across in a compelling way, ineffective content risks unintended consequences like misleading reader.

Think of the last time you were staring at a blank screen wondering how to get started with whatever you needed to write. You looked at the clock and noticed that somehow another half an hour had gone by. You had only a couple of sentences to show for that half hour, and it was obvious that the sentences didn’t communicate what you truly wanted to say.

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Many people believe that because they can write the annual family Christmas letter they are good writers. That is like saying that you’re qualified to be an accountant because you can balance your checkbook.

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Perhaps it was a difficult memo to employees or a letter to clients about a change in management. Or maybe you have written so many marketing letters or materials for the same product and/or service that you need someone objective to breathe some fresh life into the text.

Lipold Communications specializes in business-to-business communications services. Business communicators are a rare breed. They are practical enough to understand the business world, but creative enough to offer innovative ways to make a point without pushing too far.

When you hire Lipold Communications, we will ask you about your audience, the purpose of the work product and necessary information. We also pay special attention to how you express yourself. If we have a better approach, we will explain why.

Next week I will cover the 4th biggest marketing mistake: Not investing in business fundamentals. These include business, marketing and communication plans.

In the meantime, try this: Keep track of how much time you spend writing. How could your time have been better spent? Please let me know what you think by writing me at Annmarie@lipoldcommunications.