This post came from working with business-to-business marketing clients and prospects over the past six months or so. Based on the experience I had talking to clients and the work that I have been doing I came up with a what I’ll describe as a working hypothesis.
For a number of years, business and consumer social marketers have taken The Cluetrain Manifesto as their talisman. Social media marketing was about re-defining the relationship between stakeholders and a business. This was around a number of values including:
- Speedy response
Things have changed, at least in Europe. I would put part of the change down to technological capabilities influencing the philosophy around social and the fact that business-to-business are measured exclusively on sales when they are not corporate HQ. And if they are corporate HQ for a non-US domiciled company the focus is much more quarterly results-orientated, so even the corporate social accounts are expected to carry their weight in terms of delivering regular prospective customers.
The focus has changed:
- Brand communities and corporate reputation have given way to performance marketing
- Influencer programmes have given way to prospect-baiting content marketing
- Engagement has given way to CTA (call to action) and customer path to purchase
- Building customer loyalty has given way to purchase satisfaction
The emphasis has moved from the brand to performance marketing, even for what would be seen to be corporate communications. The fig leaf of reputation used to protect corporate PR has been torn away in social media. A secondary aspect of this is a less tangible decline in the stock of social media or community professionals at least within the business-to-business context.
Whilst the organisations I have been dealing with are in the early stages of thinking about marketing automation, with only a few going through the costly integration process for the likes of Eloquia or Pardot – the philosophy behind them has become the defacto view.
I spent far too long writing this post, in between starting drafting this post and pressing publish, two of the authors (David Weinberger and Doc Searls) responsible for the Cluetrain Manifesto have updated it to reflect marketing realities online which broadly touch on areas of my hypothesis and I have included a link at the bottom.
In the words of Bill Hicks business-to-business marketers run the risk of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.