Can social media really lead to a B2B purchase?

Having read Jeff Ogden’s blog post Inside the Mind of the B2B Buyer—New Paths to Purchase I first wanted to just leave a comment but then decided the issue merits a post of its own.

I think the way Dad sold back in the 70s and 80s and 90s is still totally relevant in one respect—hold your breath, the bomb is about to drop—push marketing.

[enter first-aid personnel]

OK, now that you’ve recovered, maybe we can go on. For brevity’s sake, I’ll condense what I have to say into three points:

  1. Direct mail (yes, the variety printed on dead trees and delivered by the postal service) is an excellent way of waking up your buyer potential to an improvement they could introduce in their business. Even if you’re not the first one to approach the buyer, it shows you know about the environment they operate in and the problems they’re facing. In other words, places you among the thought leaders and shows real caring. It is also possible to use three-dimensional DM. How do you include an instant-gratification giveaway in an e-mail, Facebook entry or tweet? Don’t forget either that traditional DM can be measured down to the last detail.
  2. If we only rely on inbound marketing, it means we are late in the game. We will voluntarily have let go of all the possibilities of influencing the pre-purchase process, that is, the way prospects approach their problem and draw up their specs for the purchase.
  3. Traditional is the new modern. With everyone frantically going social, the old-fashioned sales letter stands out and won’t get caught in spam filters. True, an efficient sales letter takes a lot more than typing 140 characters, but you never expected to win by taking shortcuts, did you?

I’m not saying that social media is useless in marketing, far from it. I’m just trying to introduce a measure of sanity into the hype surrounding it. Most importantly, marketers should remember that social media is just another component in their overall marketing mix.

Let me know how you feel about this.

#marketing#social media


  1. Anonymous - 2010-03-26 @ 20:40

    Kimmo, This is a common sense overview on making the best of both inbound and traditional outbound. At some point, if not every point, in “the conversation” you have to be closing if you want them to “sign on the line which is dotted”. As the son of a salesman, you obviously understand that. Thanks for sharing and now I want to go check out that post of Jeff Ogden’s to see what sparked your additional thoughts.

  2. Kimmo Linkama - 2010-03-26 @ 22:30

    Billy, thanks a bunch for visiting and your comment. Yes, I think those of us who have been in the game a bit longer than a few years after graduating from business school have enough experience to put the whole thing in perspective. And have the guts to tell our clients, too.

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