B2B Lead Generation Best Practices: Reaching More Customers

The BrainRider blog often gets inbound searches looking for information on reaching more B2B customers, lead generation best practices, how to build awareness, get more customers, fill my funnel, create more customer demand.

These searches are the practical evidence of major changes in the B2B marketing mix. (see this post more data on this trend)

The truth is that B2B marketing and selling is quickly evolving. Across industries, the marketing and selling context has changed. Buyers are behaving differently, and the work required to make a sale is becoming more difficult. While tools like the web, search, social media, marketing automation and CRM solutions are driving much of this change the trend is not just about technology. (more…)

B2B Marketing: How To Get More Customers Using Social Media

Research from ITSMA and others has been highlighting how the B2B buying process is changing.  For example over 75% of tech buyers are using Social Media like LinkedIn and blogs as part of the buying process and buyers are making use of search tools like Google which often deliver Social Media results.

A recent example from Booze & Company’s B2B Marketing Survey 2010 highlights how B2B marketers are changing their marketing mix to follow this trend.

Growth of B2B Marketing Spend Shifting to Social Media and Digital

The benefits of using social media in your B2B marketing mix

While there is lots of buzz about Social Media and B2B the practical benefits of a marketing mix that includes Social Media are:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • More targeted market reach using your network
  • More qualified inbound traffic

And when combined with a best practice mix of content, programs and pipeline marketing tools like Pardot’s Prospect Insight, Social Media can capture more prospects and deliver more visibility into your pipeline.

Along with these practical benefits, softer benefits like anecdotal market insight, corporate openness, customer engagement, and hearing what your customers are saying can also be valuable but BrainRider starts by focusing on how to use Social Media to attract and convert more customers.

The challenges in using Social Media for B2B

But social media also has some significant challenges.  We often work with mid-market companies who compete based on specialized knowledge or expertise–not price. That implies a longer buying cycle, a very targeted market and a need to focus their marketing resources.  For these client’s Social Media can be a challenge because of:

  • The large number of options and platforms
  • The demand for marketing content
  • The investment needed to manage a real-time environment
  • A lack of integration with their pipeline and sales process

However with the right approach these challenges can be managed and you can access the benefits of using Social Media as part of your marketing mix.

A best practice approach: Outposts and Anchors

Our recommendation is a low-hanging fruit approach designed to expand your reach and presence while managing your investment and channelling all your leads into your pipeline.  This B2B specific approach is based on Chris Brogan’s thinking about Social Media outposts and anchors but it has been tailored to fit the needs of our clients.

First, think of your Social Media presence as a series of marketing “outposts” setup in channels where your potential buyers are active and where search engines index for results.  This is a version of the age old recommendation to go where your customers are.

B2B Social Media strategy, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogging, RSS

Use these outposts to share content designed to connect with prospects at each stage of their decision-making process.  This content can be re-used in multiple formats, types and outposts but it should be focused on what your customers want to know and your value proposition.  And because many Social Media channels can syndicate their content through feeds you can often efficiently post and cross-reference your content across multiple outposts automatically.   This is a smart way to efficiently reduce the time it takes to expand your Social Media presence.

We often recommend starting with a combination of Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare, and blogging.  These four social media channels are low hanging opportunities for most companies and they work well together.  But ask your customers what they are using and experiment with new channels as they get on your radar.  But don’t forget in each of these cases, the purpose of these outposts is to quickly connect with your prospects using light content and direct them into your pipeline by using an anchor offering more valuable content.

(To get you started here is a quick post on how to setup your LinkedIn profile to act as an outpost.)

Next create an “anchor” on your own website (BrainRider’s anchor is our .  Your anchor should be designed to help your prospects quickly find more interesting thinking, knowledge, and expertise as well as to encourage them to easily opt-into for access to even more content.   And because they are now on your website, you can use digital analytics and marketing automation tools to track a specific prospect’s interest in a subject area and nurture them through the decision process with additional relevant content.  Click here for some thoughts on nurturing best practice.

As more and more research is showing, Social Media can be an important part of your marketing mix, I hope this post and the outpost and anchor approach is helpful in getting you get started.  For more information or to discuss your specific needs please feel free to contact us.

For more insight on Social Media, B2B Marketing, and the Booz & Company research Courtney Wiley, Director of Digital Marketing over at INgage Networks has a terrific blog post looking at this trend and she leverages her own practical knowledge to share 7 great tips on what you can do for your own marketing efforts.

Or check out our resource center.

Pardot Elevate 2010: some of the best tweets

Here is a quick recap of some of the most popular, smart, and entertaining tweets from the Pardot Elevate 2010 Marketing Automation User Conference Sept 28-29 in Atlanta.

Click here to get to get free access all the presentations from this terrific conference.

RT @Pardot: We’re excited to have over 100 @pardot clients visit us in Atlanta next week! #pardot2010

Check out presentations online: More to come… plus videos! #Pardot2010

Learned more at #pardot2010 in 2 days about using @pardot in 3 years. … #pardot2010



My favorite upcoming Pardot features

At their first-ever (and very successful!) user conference in Atlanta last week, Pardot presented their short-term roadmap for their marketing automation tool. (if you’d like to check out other presentations given at the 2-day event, they are posted online.)

A few of the new upcoming additions have me especially excited:

1. Tags. If you’re working with small numbers of forms, landing pages, and content assets in your marketing automation tool you like to see them on one screen. But as your inventory of items grows longer, you need to be able to organize them. Folders are one option, but they restrict you to a mutually exclusive approach to organizing things (one item can only exist in one folder). So instead of folders, Pardot will soon allow the user to tag items with one or multiple tags. That means we will be able to organize (and sort, and find, and *hopefully* report on) items by topic, type, date, and any other relevant organizational attribute.


B2B Marketing is Like Dating: How to connect & convert customers

We focus on using a best practice system of marketing tools, content, and programs to connect and convert more customers. Our approach? B2B marketing is a lot like like dating.

B2B Marketing and Sales for the complex sale is just like dating
We tried out that analogy at Pardot’s Elevate 2010 user conference: a great marketing automation event with a very smart audience.  One attendee told us the dating metaphor applies to putting your content behind forms…”You don’t want to give it up too easy”.  Awesome, smart, and funny at the same time!

Listed below are 5 B2B dating rules from the presentation.  Click here to see the full presentation in our knowledge center. (more…)