In today’s highly competitive software industry, the way you promote your software solution needs to change because the way customers procure software solutions has fundamentally changed.
B2B Buyers have changed
A recent survey by Forrester Research found that 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.
No longer is there a need for a buyer to make contact with a vendor salesperson to explore how a new software product or service can solve their problem – not at least until they have undertaken their own research and drawn some conclusions on not only your offering but also your competitors.
Today, buyers can find every detail on most products with a Google search, making it harder for Sales reps to connect with buyers who prefer search results to a sales pitch.
Without recognizing this buyer behavior change, and reacting to it, you are in danger of losing a sale without even being aware that it existed! In fact, if you haven’t changed the way you market and sell, then the reality is you already have a growing pool of latent, missed sales opportunities that your competitors have happily engaged with.
The Rise of Social Media Marketing
So where does content, generated through your Social Media Marketing strategy, fit into this new buying cycle?
The answer: everywhere. When your content is aligned with new buyer behavior, it becomes much more effective at not only identifying customer opportunities in the first place, but also guiding prospects through a new selling cycle centered around Social Selling.
With an effective Social Media Marketing strategy you are able to produce relevant content, which potential customers and your own advocates share with their network. This in turn creates visibility, increases the perceived value of your brand and results in new potential customers self-qualifying and contacting you at an earlier buying stage.
Combining Social Media Marketing execution with an aligned Social Selling process gives you back control over your sales revenue generation. It means that you can build greater predictability into your sales pipeline.
Are YOU willing to Change?
Convinced? Ready to adopt a new way to engage with your customer markets through Social Media Marketing?
If you are still unsure, then here are just a few statistics to help you make your mind up:
· 76% of B2B technology marketers use social media to market their products. (MarketingProfs 2016)
· 88% of B2B companies use content marketing. (Forbes)
· 81% of B2B decision makers use online communities and blogs to help make purchasing decisions. (Marketing Think)
· There are 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts globally with 1 million new active mobile social users added every day. (Source: We Are Social)
· In the past two years, content consumption on LinkedIn has increased 21%. (HubSpot, 2016)
· 60% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. (HubSpot, 2016)
· More than half (56%) of client-side respondents indicated that they are going to increase their social media marketing investment in 2017. Only 5% of respondents say that they will decrease investment (Adobe 2017)
An Effective, Powerful Social Media Marketing Strategy – Where are you on the curve?
Working with many technology companies around the world, 2MARK-IT has defined a Social Media Marketing five-level adoption model:
LEVEL 1 – AWARENESS.
You are aware that buyer behavior has changed and that Social Media Marketing can be a method to influence this modern purchasing culture. However, you are not quite sure where to start. You have a website but not a defined a practical, consistent way to re-purpose website content for relevant Social Networking Platforms such as LinkedIn. You don’t have a Social Media content calendar and no repeatable way to curate existing content from external sources.
LEVEL 2 – FIRST STEPS
You now begin to take the first steps towards formulating a Social Media process and start to create content, predominantly using internal resources. Articles start to be produced but in a sporadic manner, when time allows. This content creation is often delayed as other priorities take precedence. So, although you have started progress is slow and, despite best intentions, content is taking time to be developed and uploaded onto Social Networking Platforms. Another hallmark of this level is that the content itself is generic in nature and not highly geared towards the personas found within your customer decision making unit.
LEVEL 3 – STRATEGY FORMULATION
At this stage your Social Media Marketing process starts to be underpinned by a well thought out strategy. You now have Goals, Objectives and Plans associated with your strategy. The focus of your content creation and distribution is targeted on the provision of value to specific audiences. Theses audiences start to like, comment and share your content content, thereby extending the engagement of the network and enabling consistent lead generation to take place.
LEVEL 4 – SCALE
At this level, your new Social Media Marketing strategy starts to have a wide-ranging impact. This strategy inputs into all the marketing and communications programs across your company. Content start to be produced with specific buyer personas in mind and is not just championed by your marketing team, but also by the salesforce.
LEVEL 5 – THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
Now you have reached the level where your Social Media Marketing strategy has caused the market to view your company in a different way – from a software supplier to a thought leader whose opinions are factored into the customer’s procurement process. Inbound sales leads increase dramatically and your company is included on a buyers tender list by default.
Which level are you on currently? If you at level 4 or 5 well done! We certainly have some ideas and insights we would like to share with you that could further underpin your strategy.
If you are at levels 1, 2 or 3 then you are in danger of being regularly outmaneuvered by your competitors and we need to talk urgently!
At 2MARK-IT we have a variety of resources and services that will allow you to fast-track the design and execution of a Social Media Marketing strategy that is right for your company.
From Business Blender Social Media workshops, to white papers, webinars and program roadmap services.
For now, why not book a free consultation with our CEO and start the process of turning the promise of Social Media Marketing into a reality for your company.
About the author:
Peter Rover is CEO of 2MARK-IT – a global Social Selling training, consultancy and enablement firm.