Not much. Your marketing should be dictated by the preferences of your target customer segment anyway, and there is often less difference between marketing to small businesses and marketing to consumers than there is between marketing to small businesses and marketing to large businesses.
Is marketing less important for B2B?
One presumed difference between B2B and B2C is that B2B is driven more by sales and references, and B2C by advertising and marketing. But that difference is due more to the value of the product and the length of the sales cycle than to any inherent differences in marketing practice. For high-value products (like a large IT consulting contract), you have to hand-hold the customer through the process and (gently) nudging them towards the sale. Because a big amount of revenue hinges on every deal, there is a lot more resources spent on having each deal come through than it would if you were selling a SaaS product or an iPad app (even if they’re also business products).
But the differing value of products matters in B2C as well: if you’re selling apartments, reputation and word-of-mouth are critical: and you’d expect to have to nurture the customer and nudge her towards the sale.
Pricing’s something many of us struggle with, and is a really important part of marketing strategy. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about as we move closer to a paid plan for Markitty. So here are a few interesting posts that talk about how you should price your product.
Customers like options they can compare, even if they’re similar
We talked about how to interpret online marketing results and make better business decisions by understanding the impact of various marketing activities on your data. Looking at a single metric like site visits or Facebook likes could lead you to make wrong inferences, which we demonstrated with a small case study.
Here is the presentation from the workshop for those who could not attend.
When I first knew Ed Steinberg, he was the head of human resources at the company I was then working at. Since then, he’s gone on to do interesting things, becoming LinkedIn’s first Relationship Manager and working there for several years before moving on to training other sales people on using LinkedIn effectively.
I asked Ed for tips on using LinkedIn that small businesses can use. Read on! My questions and comments are in bold.
Let’s start by talking about you: tell us about how you landed up in LinkedIn and what your role has been.
I worked in Human Resources for a long time, 15 years or so. My primary responsibility was hiring. I realized that referral hires made the best hires and helped grow a company from 4 employees to over 500 people. I had opened up offices on 3 continents and hired a tremendous group of employees.
While working as Global Head of HR at StarCite, a LinkedIn rep came to my office to sell me Corporate Solutions. When I realized what it was, I saw that this was a large extension around the concept of referral hiring that had worked so well for me. It made perfect sense!
Are you considering outsourcing your product development or marketing or HR? I wrote this piece for YourStory.in about things you should consider before outsourcing your product development. But most of these points also apply when you are looking for a marketing partner or a web design company.
But unlike other functions, in outsourcing product development, the cost of a wrong decision is much higher. Correcting your marketing messaging or website design down the line is not that difficult: but your cost and pain will be much higher if product development goes wrong. And since it is difficult to recognize problems until it is very late, when it comes to choosing a product development outsourcing partner, getting it right the first time is your best bet.
Outsourcing is an obvious option to consider when you have an idea for a software application but don’t have the technical expertise to implement it yourself. You bring in the domain expertise and take care of the business side, and outsource the technical aspects to experts in that field. But this is easier said than done, and there have been many stories of product development outsourcing gone wrong. So what do you do?
You will find this useful if you are considering outsourcing as an option, or are an outsourcing vendor yourself. Read the full post here, and do share your feedback in the comments.
Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs, one of the most popular sites for marketing advice (and responsible for some of my marketing education!). She has been cited in Forbes as the most influential woman in Social Media and recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the top 20 women bloggers. She is also the co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules.
Ann talks to us about marketing and content. My questions and comments are in bold.
Tell us about how you got involved with Marketing Profs.
Are you new to Twitter? Do you keep feeling you’re missing out by not being on it but aren’t sure how to start? This post tells you what common Twitter terms mean, and how you can make use of Twitter features.
Your “Twitter handle” is your Twitter username.
When you tweet, it shows up on the Twitter timeline of everyone who is following you.
Tweets of people you are following will show up on timeline in chronological order. Most of the time you will only see the last 30-40 tweets and earlier ones will be ignored.
So, tweet at times when more of your followers are likely to be online.
If someone is not following you, they can still come to your profile and see all your tweets (unless your profile is private).
You can add links or upload photos and use them in your tweets.
Rand Fishkin is the CEO and Co-founder of SEOmoz, one of the most well-known and respected internet marketing companies. He’s been in Businessweek’s 30 under 30, and has got tons of press coverage for himself and SEOmoz.
He talked to us about community-building, products vs. services, and more! Read on.
SEOmoz got started after you joined your mom’s (Gillian Muessig, Co-founder of SEOmoz) marketing business… How did you decide to focus on SEO?
Bhaskar Sarma of Pixels and Clicks is a copywriter specializing in B2B technology businesses. He is also a fantasy fan, judging by his marketing blog posts that reference Tolkien and Dr. Who. He talks to us about copywriting and social media for B2B.
My questions and comments are in bold.
How and why did you become a consultant?
I came into consulting and copywriting through a pretty roundabout fashion. Before my current gig and after getting my BE in computer engineering I was a tech journalist, an infosec consultant and a volunteer with a non-profit running schools in remote mountain villages near Mussorie. I decided not to get back into the corporate rat race and opted to work for myself, travel when I want and choose my own clients and projects.
As a business-owner, you have a hundred things clamoring for your attention. But you also need to be on social media, to listen and talk to your customers and to influencers in your industry. Focusing on one or two channels will probably be more useful to you than creating profiles on many that you can’t keep up with.
The biggest factor that determines what social media you should focus on depends, of course, on where your customers are. But here are some other factors that might help you make the decision.
If you’re a B2C business, you probably can’t afford to ignore Facebook. Facebook has a huge user base, and it’s where everyone hangs out — teenagers, office workers, stay-at-home parents, freelancers, grandparents. So you should seriously consider having an active Facebook page if:
Didn’t we say, don’t keep your customers guessing? Well, if that wasn’t clear enough, here is a story of how a company can make it very difficult for potential customers to understand its offering. SocialEdge is a product (or service?) by Infosys. In their words:
“Infosys SocialEdge provides a comprehensive way to engage with consumers, influence their purchase decisions and provide post-purchase assistance”.
Does that tell you what SocialEdge actually is or does? It doesn’t even explain how it’s “social”!
But think about most B2B purchases. If we’re looking at buying a new rack of servers, or supply chain management software, where’s the fun in that? The only real emotion at play here is the risk of screwing up and being fired. Emotions in B2B purchases are heavily biased towards risk mitigation.
At first glance, this struck me as insightful, but later, I felt it was somewhat short-sighted. If you are an IT manager, wouldn’t buying the right servers make a difference to your job? I’d say you would be interested in the outcome beyond risk mitigation if you think that new rack of servers is going to make your work easier. If I, for instance, am looking at email marketing solutions for my company, I know what results I want from it, and how I expect it to make my work easier. I’m not a purchasing manager, I’m a marketing manager. And I’d go about this (arguably) as diligently as I would if I were buying an AC for my home. Risk mitigation is a factor in either case: I don’t want to buy a faulty AC and waste all that money (and the time I spent shopping for the AC and getting it installed). I don’t want to buy a subscription to an email marketing system that doesn’t work well and then have to explain my decision to my bosses.