I had a chance to interview Susan Tatum, B2B Social Media Business Strategist recognized in the B2B marketing playground. She agreed to share with us her vision of today’s B2B Social Media main challenges.
You are specialized in social media marketing for B2B businesses, but what actually makes you specialized in B2B? What do you think is the difference between B2B and B2C?
It might be more accurate to say that I am specialized in online marketing for complex sales. In other words – businesses that sell products and services where buyers have a multi-phased decision-making processes and often there are many people involved in the buying decision. This tends to be uniquely B2B. It differs from a transactional sale where the purchase decision is low risk, made relatively quickly and where the quantity of leads and prospects is often more important than quality. So the approach is quite different from B2C. In the complex B2B world, we have to educate and build trust over time. In this situation some social media networks (not all) are good for generating awareness, initial connections and ongoing engagement. At some point though, the relationship has to be moved offline and into phone calls and possibly face-to-face meetings before a sale is finalized.
Please describe your history with social media? How did you realize that there was a potential in social media marketing to increase B2B sales? Do you honestly believe that SMM can generate sales?
I’ve been a marketer all my life — always B2B and mostly tech. I watched social media for many years before I got involved in it. I recognized that it was substantially changing the way people communicated – at least in the B2C world, and I felt sure it would change B2B at some point so I kept an eye on it. About 6 or 7 years ago I saw LinkedIn morphing from a mostly job site to an online networking site for business people. As a communication person it was obvious to me that LinkedIn had the ability to replace or enhance “live” communication in the beginning stages of a sale. I experimented with it and found that I could identify and connect with people I would have difficulty reaching by a cold email or phone call.
Back then, the only people I could find who were running successful lead generation programs on LinkedIn were focusing on internet marketers and “solopreneurs”. I contacted them to learn about their process and together we refined it to support complex sale situations.