Obviously, humor and B2B marketing don’t go well together, OR perhaps it should be the other way around! Humor and B2B marketing can go extremely well together! At least, it worked out greatly for Cisco a few years ago when they released a Valentine’s video produced by leading business comedian Tim Washer. Check out the video below!
In the early 1990’s, companies started to listen more systematically to the “voice of the customer” (VOC)* after the quality movement made it clear that companies had room for improvement in this regard. Companies could more precisely identify how to provide the most value by dissecting the customers’ voice so that they could hierarchically structure and prioritize their needs. Many companies learned from this exercise and customers benefited.
However, VOC also missed the boat in one major way. The voice of the customer approach assumes that the customer is talking to you. But what if the customer is either unwilling or unable to articulate anything? This is the “silence of the customer” which could be equally if not more important than what customers actually say such as when “96% of customers who are unhappy don’t complain.”
Thinking about it, in a B2B context this could also mean that social media listening efforts could be misdirected if listening is limited only to direct customers. Instead of trying to listen to direct customers when they may not have anything to say, companies could be better off holding their ears close to the ground where the customers of the customers interact instead. Why? Well, imagine if we could hear customers’ customers concerns. Wouldn’t that put us in a better position to also predict what our customers’ needs are, articulated or not?
* Abbie Griffin & John R. Hauser (1993), “The Voice of the Customer,” Marketing Science, Vol. 12, No. 1, Winter 1993.
Took the Southwest shuttle from Orange County to San Jose in Silicon Valley today and met with some marketing executives at a major B2B company. It was educational for me to hear first-hand accounts from marketers about their struggles selling social media initiatives to non-marketing executives. Without strong companywide support, the social media efforts undertaken, however well-intentioned, may not even get a fair shot at being successful as they tend to be understaffed and underfunded. Even the projects that do get some traction on social media can suffer from not get the recognition they deserve due to a general lack of appreciation of the power of social media. Continuing to provide some good examples could perhaps convince them over time. However, it would clearly be ideal should they have the very senior management’s blessing. A great way of demonstrating such support would be if the CEO would jump on board and started tweeting or blogging, wouldn’t it?
The fact that many business-to-business (B2B) relationships are characterized by long-term norms of trust and commitment should not be news to either academics or practitioners. The value of establishing loyal partnerships between buyers and sellers to ensure consistent delivery of customer satisfaction has become increasingly evident. Such partnerships typically involve multiple people in each company having multiple relationships with people in the other company. Over time, such social processes make a specific buyer-seller relationship difficult to break as the the organizational boundaries begin to blur. Over time, many staff in boundary-spanning jobs experience a role conflict in that they almost forget which company they work for or at least which company’s goals they hold, or should hold, closest to their hearts, at the same time as this is for the good of the whole partnership.
Even if most would agree with the above statement, now with the emergence of a plethora of often free social media and networking technologies that are getting easier and easier to use by the day at the same time as they become more and more powerful, some still question the potential value of social media in a B2B context. This is puzzling. Yes, there may be too many platforms to choose from. Yes, there could be situations where social media may not be applicable. But still. What could be wrong with having more tools as your disposal to further strengthen and develop existing relationships between buyers and sellers?
In a B2B context, you often hear naysayers say things like: “I don’t need social media to manage my customer relationships, I only have a handful of customers to manage and if I have a problem, I just pick up the phone.” Still, wouldn’t it be helpful to also know what is going on in the lives of your customers when you don’t have a problem? Perhaps they have a problem, a problem they may even voice on social media, and you are nowhere near to pick up the signal. That sounds like a problem to me. Or, what do you think?
Amber Naslund, or @AmberCadabra as she is known on Twitter, coauthored “The NOW Revolution” (with Jay Baer) which details how businesses can get faster, smarter, and more social. In this video interview, she offers her take on the role of social media in B2B (business-to-business) marketing. She also gets very excited to the extent that we almost kiss after my question at 1:28, check it out!
Monday night in my Social Media Marketing MBA class at Chapman University, we were joined by Neal Schaffer, a Forbes Top 30 Social Media Influencer and Award-winning author for his books on using LinkedIn in a B2B (Business-to-Business) context for sales and social media marketing. Neal generously shared his views extemporaneously in a rapid fire fashion honoring his parents’ New York origins. In so doing, he painted a very hopeful picture for B2B companies that embrace social media and offered a roadmap for doing so.
100 years ago, the personality and the perceived character of salespeople were key determinants of success as these traits would command both liking and respect.1 However, in Arthur Miller’s 1949 play Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman complained that the sales profession was becoming “all cut and dried” and that you no longer could sell with “personality” or the personal relationships you have with your customers.