Building a Community Around Your B2B Marketing StrategyTenlo Radio
In a world where the buyer’s journey is virtually unrecognizable from what it was 10 or 15 years ago, we as marketers have little control over what buyers do.
So, how do we engage our ideal customers in a sea of sales pitches? How do we reach the buyers we don’t rub shoulders with at the trade shows anymore? Build a community and give buyers valuable content they actually want to consume.
On a recent episode of The Lead(er) Generation on Tenlo Radio, I talked about the importance of producing content with real industry value and how it will build a community around your brand.
- It might seem obvious, but it’s important to acknowledge this: If we engage in communities around brands, so do our clients!
- Building your community shouldn’t be a long-winded, covert sales pitch — provide real value to your target buyers.
- Podcasts, while labor-intensive, are a simple, inexpensive way to begin producing valuable content that builds its own community.
Think about how YOU discover new products.
Whether it’s through family or friends, or in a more professional setting through colleagues and influencers, we discover new things through communities. We get validation that a product or a solution can work for us based on the community and its feedback.
If we are already engaging with communities in this way, why aren’t we applying that same process to the people we want to sell to? It may seem obvious, but how many of us are actually building communities as part of our marketing strategy?
Buyers research and make moves on their own now. They don’t need us (or want us) to guide them. Instead of drawing them into a defunct sales funnel, why don’t we meet them where they are?
How communities can reach the hard-to-reach.
When people think about building a community, they usually think of Facebook groups. In fact, many companies probably already have one, along with a whole team dedicated to the “community.” But is it really a community, or is it just a group with a sales pitch?
Here’s an example of an actual community: five or six years ago, a group of video engineers working for Facebook, Apple and Google, as well as a lot of small companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, began meeting for beers. It wasn’t arranged by the company; they just wanted to meet up and talk about what interested them — stuff off the beaten path.
The group began to grow over the years, doubling and tripling in size, and even started inviting speakers. And thus a conference started and a company was born, all because a few guys met up for happy hour to talk shop. It’s the perfect example of an organic community engaging buyers in a B2B marketing landscape that’s been flipped upside down.
Start with a podcast.
The buyer doesn’t need us. It’s a sobering fact, but it’s true. What the buyer needs is valuable information. There are many avenues to take when planning how to provide that essential data, but I personally think the easiest method is starting a podcast.
The equipment itself is very inexpensive — the real cost is time and human resources. Ultimately, it’s worth it as long as you stay consistent with the content you put out. For me personally, I started a podcast with a company I used to work with and, after about 15 episodes, we only had about 200 downloads per week.
One day the VP of Marketing told me people he struggled to get in meetings with or had to chase around were actually getting on calls and saying, “Oh, I listen to your podcast, by the way. I love this episode about…” There’s no metric for community, but it’s undeniable that the content had a positive effect and got the buyer one step closer to closing.
But what do you do with the listeners you gain? Let’s talk about the next step.
The power of meet ups.
So, you have a small audience for your podcast, but no real way to engage them. Now it’s time to go to them. What if you go to the three major cities where your target customers are and arrange a meet up for happy hour or maybe dinner? Sound familiar?
This is your chance to repurpose your podcast material, invite a speaker and engage with the community you’ve built. Now, you don’t want to spend the whole time on a sales pitch — they would probably endure it for free dinner and drinks, but that’s not going to really nurture your community.
Give them interesting topics and insights about their ecosystem, something that excites them. You walk away from the event with an email list and content that you can feed back into the community through a LinkedIn group or newsletter.
And what’s the cost for something like that? A couple of airline tickets for staff, food and drinks? Perhaps five grand, and if you’ve got even 25 people representing 10 or 15 major companies that you’d like to do business with.
Wow, talk about low customer acquisition costs.
Final verdict: Building a community is a must for your marketing strategy.
Whether it’s a podcast, a newsletter or a YouTube series, the value of developing a community cannot be overstated. I encourage you to take a look at your current marketing strategy and ask yourself, “Am I adding to the conversation or just repeating my pitch?”
No matter the ecosystem you operate in and sell to, I guarantee there are insights you can offer in the form of content. After all, you’re the expert in your category. Produce good quality content, start a conversation and you’ll form relationships that lead to sales.
That is the power of a community.
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