|By Cloud Ventures||
|October 31, 2012 09:05 AM EDT||
However as we all know it’s now a social world – Blogs are the new columnists that have surprisingly significant levels of influence over buyers.
Furthermore with the right tools the medium is ideal for direct lead generation.
Our Cloud Best Practices Network is a perfect example. Starting entirely from scratch with no brand or contacts, and most importantly no marketing budget, not one cent, working purely through social media using only blogs and Linkedin, we have:
- Generated over 1,000 registrations for webinars and white papers
- Attracted over a million page impressions
- Built a connections and follower base of over 5,000
Some suggest that online methods don’t result in quality contacts or “real leads”, however what I’ve found is the reality that senior buyers up to the CIO level are online and accessible.
Subject matter expertise is key – If you know where to look you’ll find the Linkedin groups where they are, and if you participate meaningfully in dialogue on topics of interest to them, you’ll have the opportunity to connect and build relationships.
For me these relationships have turned into face to face meetings, without ever picking up the phone. So not only does it work, but it’s often cheaper and more direct.
I’m not advocating giving up these methods, it’s always a question of the right tools for the right job, I’m more saying that if you think social media marketing can’t generate ‘real leads’, you are really, really missing the boat.
Don’t forget – I achieved this with ZERO marketing budget, imagine what a business could therefore achieve where you do have budget and you’re considering how to maximize your lead flow from it.
One aspect to this is the SaaS tools you can use to support the process, Cloud-based social media tools = Cloud 2.0.
There are many to support this activity, but one in particular I would highlight is Pardot.
Pardot enables marketing automation, were you can automatically maintain an ongoing dialogue with prospects, through communicating various types of “ticklers” to them. Social media – Blogs, articles, white papers, etc are ideal materials to use for this.
What’s important to understand about this activity is how it supports Solution Selling best practices.
In their white paper Content Creation Guide, they describe building content engagement tracks that map to different Buyer Personas at different stages in the procurement cycle, the same model described in Solution Selling.
This means sales organizations can have a unified approach right from point of initial contact serviced by online marketing right through final direct selling stages.
Conclusion – Cloud PR
Research has shown that buyers now look for sales representatives to be subject matter experts on their product areas, naturally, but few convey this through blogs that they then share with their social communities.
This is a really big missed opportunity, there is huge room for growth in these areas if you do little there, but as per the introduction – Who has the time?
If you don’t then consider our Cloud PR service – We enable this social selling as a managed service. Read more here.