Over the past 18 months, I’ve worked on projects for a wide variety of organizations. Most of the organizations have been B2B companies, from start-up ventures to established multinational corporations.
All of them faced the same challenge: how to make sense of the evolving marketing and communications landscape and the rise of social media–what I refer to as the online-marketing ecosystem. There’s a pervasive fear among businesses that if they don’t have a presence in every channel, they’re missing out on an opportunity: to reach new customers, strengthen ties with existing ones, or engage in ways that meet rising consumer expectations.
Few companies have the resources to go all-in on everything. For those that do, they run the very real risk of wasting their time and money trying to gin up interest in their Facebook fan page or Twitter feed when their customer base is elsewhere.
One client was rightly skeptical of an ambitious plan (I was retained to produce content, not strategy) to expand the company’s online presence without a better idea of how it fit into the company’s overall business strategy.
However, the result of answering “I don’t know which channel is best” should never be to do nothing. Instead, executives at B2B companies should ask some basic questions that can help define the right path to pursue:
1) How does an online-marketing effort support my business strategy?
2) How will success be measured?
3) How will this effort drive prospects into the sales funnel?
The answers can vary widely depending on industry, size of the company, and strategy, but a few basic rules apply in almost every case:
1) The company website should be the hub of activity
2) High-quality content is critical
3) Online marketing should be supported by metrics and analysis
In the coming days, I’ll be releasing a white paper that goes into greater depth on the issues that B2B companies face in developing an online-marketing strategy as well as a basic framework that they can employ to get started.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic—what’s worked well and what obstacles you’ve faced.