B2B Social Marketing: What to do when your customer isn’t a person

Just typing “B2B Social Marketing” in the title made me want to slit my wrists, but there is a huge obstacle facing companies like mine on how to utilize social media. The formula for consumer marketing is simple and effective, but B2B is more complicated. The business model for consumer driven companies is for people to love and buy their brand, so customers are natural fans, friends and followers of your product. Consumer marketing tries to make products part of your identity, so it’s only natural that people will opt-in for that connection.

But what if your customer is not a person?

Garvey makes conveyors and accumulators for the packaging industry. Our customers are large, mass producers of goods. We’re trying to reach the decision makers in these companies and establish a connection with them. Are there individuals whose identity is centered around the packaging machinery they buy? Yes, and they are insane and we love them, but for most people we are a means to an end. We help them achieve their production goals, but we will never have the identity power that @HarleyDavidson, @dogfishbeer, or @CocaCola has.

So how do you reach those decision makers? In an ideal world the decision makers would all follow @garveycorp, but since they have complete control over their social media input (that’s one of the greatest things about social media, btw) why would they give up that valuable space to me? I certainly wouldn’t be interested in following most of my suppliers because there’s no way their tweets will be more interesting than my friends’ and idols’.

@garveycorp vs @bengarvey @bengarvey
@garveycorp vs @bengarvey

Not enough of my customers will ever follow @garveycorp, but would they follow @bengarvey? If I can be interesting and funny enough, maybe customers will follow me and in return, tolerate the occasional conveyor technology link. Could putting a face on the corporation change my marketing strategy from B2B to P2B? And by engaging them in things they’re interested in (what they tweet about), can I then earn the relationship that allows me to become a resource for them and ultimately a supplier.

There are a ton of risks in this. I have posted tweets that could be offensive to some people. It doesn’t scale well. I may not be as interesting as I think I am (hah).

But I think it’s worth a try.

So far I have one customer following me, so in my next post I’ll probably call it a success because I increased it by 300%.

mars-red Closing!

I was extremely disappointed to see this in my inbox today. mars-red is a great store and Scott put a lot of effort into it. The two gigs I played there were a lot of fun and it’s a shame to see they couldn’t make it work. Also, I have a $25 gift card I haven’t spent yet!

Hello,

To get right to the point, after four years we have decided to close our doors. Saturday, March 15th will be marsREDmusic’s last day of business. I bring you this news with much regret and I must admit, a little bit of relief. It has really been tough this past year to keep things going as business has been on the decline. The world of music retail has become quite cutthroat, which makes it extremely tough for a store our size who relies solely on record sales, to compete. I could rant for hours about the music industry, CD prices, file sharing, so on & so forth, but I’m sure you’ve got a pretty good idea what’s going on out there so I won’t bore you with the details. To quickly summarize: after doing this for close to 15 years, I’m ready to move on.

I want to thank each & every one of you for helping us make it this far. We had a good run, it’s been a pleasure serving you and I hope you all appreciated that we tried to do.

Once again, our last day is March 15th so I hope you’ll stop in to say farewell, and whatever inventory is left will be upwards of 75% off.

In the meantime, our clearance sale will be starting on Monday, February 11th with 10% off everything in stock. We will still be offering special orders on a limited basis thru February so if there’s anything you need to grab before we take off, just let us know.

Our new store hours as of Febuary 11th will be M-F: 11- 6, Sat:10-6 and Sun: 12-5.

Thanks again & take care.
Scott Wellborn, Owner Mars Red LLC