Attention B2Bs! Is your marketing mix social?

After Marc Benioff asked during his opening keynote address at Dreamforce 2011 in San Francisco,

“Customers and employees are social. Are enterprises social?”

The Marketing Id responded with an enthusiastic “Welcome to the Social Enterprise – It’s Not What You Think, B2B Skeptics!

So in revisiting Mr. Benioff’s concept of a social enterprise; for a B2B to become one, it needs to follow a three step process:

  1. Create customer social profiles in its CRM database
    • Who they are, what they say about you (via Twitter) what they like (via Facebook) and who they are connected to (via LinkedIn)
  2. Establish an employee social network by deploying
    • Salesforce Chatter – profiles, status updates, file sharing, groups, feeds, app updates
    • Salesforce Chatter Now – presence, IM, collaboration, workflow
    • Salesforce Chatter Connect – Sharepoint, Lotus Notes, 3rd party apps, etc.
  3. Integrate these with customer and product social networks
    • Perform social marketing via crowd-sourcing – listen to and analyze what customers are saying using social media monitoring tools
    • Make a ubiquitous product-friendly social network available across all platforms and channels

While a B2B might prefer taking a more incremental approach to “climbing this social enterprise ladder” as it were, there are already a number of social interactions that the B2B’s inbound marketing efforts continually record in its CRM database.  Two weeks prior to Dreamforce 2011, The Marketing Id had shown “How Inbound Marketing Is Driving the B2B Marketing Mix–Viva La 4Ps!” by suggesting that these social interactions can influence the manipulation of a B2B’s marketing mix, either in its current revenue cycle or in a succeeding one.  Hence, in that sense, the concept of a social marketing mix actually precedes the B2B’s progression to a full-fledged social enterprise.

So with apologies to Mr. Benioff, The Marketing Id would like to ask,

“Is your marketing mix social?” 

The good news is that–if your B2B has implemented a CRM-integrated marketing automation platform that is engaged in inbound marketing and social media–the answer is yes! However, the catch is that at a typical B2B, the inbound marketing activities are mostly focused on demand generation and sales enablement.

Every such B2B marketing department has to realize that it has a treasure trove of information in its CRM database that can be of tremendous import to its product marketing team (for details, see afore-mentioned Viva La 4Ps blog post).  It is therefore imperative for that B2B’s inbound marketing initiatives to not only engage in demand generation, but also drive its marketing mix.  This necessarily means that the new “cool kids” of B2B marketing–its inbound marketing team–have to sit at the same lunch table as the old “geek kids” of B2B marketing–its product marketing team–and share all of that critical CRM data!  Quite simply, a social marketing mix can positively impact the 4Ps of a B2B’s solutions portfolio, which in turn translates into more predictable revenue performance. More predictable revenue performance resulting from marketing efforts is what is going to get a B2B’s CMO a permanent seat at the CEO’s decision-making roundtable!

With Marketing thus firmly established as a revenue driver on the demand chain side, it becomes easier to convince the B2B’s other functional departments about the necessity to create a larger, more encompassing social enterprise.  And, in this regard the three-step Benioff process, which has been outlined above provides a simple incremental approach.  So what are you waiting for B2Bs?  Interconnected social networks–employee, customer and product–are becoming increasingly vital to the long-term success of your business!  If your marketing mix is already social, well begun is half-done!

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About Jack Nargundkar

High-tech marketing is always a constant compromise between logical left-brain analytics and creative right-brain activities. Jack has been living this struggle his entire working career, which he began as a software geek after graduating with a BSEE degree from Bombay University. To hone his marketing skills, Jack went on to pursue an MBA degree from Columbia Business School in New York City. Jack has since gained wide-ranging marketing experience from working at start-ups to Fortune 500 companies in the global IT, Defense & Space, and Telecommunications industries. In the past few years, Jack has focused on developing integrated marketing strategies and plans that incorporate a judicious mix of inbound and outbound marketing techniques. In addition to being a self-published author, Jack has been recognized for outstanding analytical and communications skills, authoring technical articles (self and ghosted) in numerous trade publications and editorial opinions in Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
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