Middle managers and marketing folks dealing with business-to-business companies that are still delaying their social media programs – pay attention! We’ve reviewed our share of social media books here, but this is the first one targeted specifically to B2B applications. This is a book I received from the publisher, but I would have purchased on my own because of my extensive involvement in the B2B marketing space.
Authors Paul Gillin(@pgillin) and Eric Schwartzman have written what I’ll call a foundation book for B2B social media marketing, Social Media to the Business Customer: Listen to Your B2B Market, Generate Major Account Leads and Build Client Relationships.
The Story Behind the Book
The defining moment that triggered this book occurred at the Inbound Marketing Conference in 2009. An attendee raised her hand and asked how B2B companies could use social media. The presenter asked the audience how many were from B2B companies. When more than half the room raised their hand, the authors knew they were on to something. When a quick Google search confirmed that most social media books at the time were written for B2C applications, the authors went to work to pull Social Marketing to the Business Customer together.
4 Reasons I Am So Excited About This Book
My Amazon search for the words “social media” turned up over 138,000 entries. That tells me that there’s no shortage of social media books out there. And sometimes I feel like I’ve read most of them. But this one is different from the others because it was written for and is focused on the B2B marketer or business owner and the marketing agencies that serve them. Better still, as I flipped through the chapters of the book, I could see that there was absolutely no fluff at all. Every chapter is dedicated to real issues and real questions asked by B2B marketers. Here are 4 reasons I enjoyed this book:
1. You Get Common Objections and Answers to Those Objections
The chapter “Winning Buy-In and Resources” features a list of common objections and how to address them:
- “There’s no return on investment.” There is a whole chapter dedicated to calculating ROI that will give you all the metrics, tables and calculations you need to satisfy this question. But more importantly, you’ll get a sense of perspective about what a social media tool is and what ROI is. “ROI is calculated by subtracting the cost of the marketing pilot, the cost of goods sold, and operating expenses from the revenue generated. But long-term benefits are more difficult to quantify. What’s the ROI of your telephone, golf-club membership, or a meal with a customer?”
- “We don’t have the resources.” I’m impressed with how much progress has been made in the area of measuring resources needed to use social media. The authors actually have numbers you can use. For example, “It takes a person roughly 25 minutes per interaction, which means one person at 80 percent utilization can engage with 14 customers per day.” They’ve actually measured 73 B2B marketers who generated sales from Twitter while spending no more than 60 minutes a day on that activity.
There are several more objections and responses to those objections in this book that I think are outstanding.
2. You Learn to Calculate ROI of Social Media
The ROI question or objection is really just a stalling tactic, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t set goals and measure our results. Chapter 14 is dedicated to measuring ROI, and even seasoned social media marketers and practitioners will learn something. The authors show you how to define your ROI calculation so you’re measuring what counts for your business. They even give you specific examples of what other B2B organizations have done. Then they show you how to make decisions based on the ROI.
In one example, they compare webinars to white paper downloads. The webinars have a higher ROI in terms of attracting audience, but when you think about the fact that white papers attract a larger audience and take fewer resources to implement, it makes more sense to increase the conversion rate of the white paper to increase the ROI. This is the kind of guidance and concrete specificity that’s been missing in many social media books.
3. You Learn Lead Generation Strategies
One of my favorite features in this book is the specific examples and tables. The Lead Generation chapter is a great example of this. On page 162 is a table that defines the stage in the buying process for the customer, the traditional media tools that you might use for each stage, and the social media tools you should consider. This kind of context is what makes this book such a terrific resource.
4. You’ll Get Insight Into Tools and Platforms That Might Work Best for Your Business
There is an entire section devoted to explaining specific platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Ning and others too numerous to mention. Gillin and Schwartzman explain each platform, its functions, its benefits and its applications. Then they give examples of how specific B2B companies have used each platform to advantage. I found this section really interesting and informative. It also tickled my brain into thinking up new and innovative ideas for my clients.
The website for Social Marketing to the Business Customer is found on Eric Schwartzman’s site. When you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you’ll find a link to a slideshare of Chapter 1 and a podcast. You can also follow Eric Schwartzman on Twitter (@ericschwartzman).
Why You Should Read This Book – Even if You Don’t Deal With B2B Companies
The biggest reason for any small business owner to read this book is for your own education and peace of mind. I really see this as a reference book. The recommendations for strategies and tactics are based on rigorous research and application. Even companies using social media for business-to-consumer applications will benefit from applying the measurements, examples and perspectives Social Marketing to the Business Customer offers.