4 Tips To Becoming A B2B Marketing Insider (and More)

Michael Brenner on Apr 7, 2011 in Marketing Strategy

Paige Holden

Want to become a B2B Marketing Insider?

There are a lot of great blogs out there. And there are many amazing writers who share their experience in B2B marketing, social media, digital marketing and demand generation.

But when I attempted to define the blogging objectives for B2B Marketing Insider, I asked myself “does the world need another marketing blog?”  I did see one large gap: corporate marketers speaking from inside their companies about what life is really like for the B2B marketer.

In May 2010, I became acquainted with Paige Holden on Twitter when we were both live-tweeting at the Social Media Plus event in Philadelphia, PA.  I really like Paige’s unique perspective on working inside a B2B organization and was thrilled when she offered to share her thoughts here.

So if you work at an agency and are looking to move to the client side, if you’re considering the similarities and differences in B2B Marketing vs. B2C, or if you are still advocating for the effectiveness of social media inside your company, then this post is for you…

Tell me about yourself: What is your background and what is your current role?

My public relations career started with a wing eating championship. No, really. My first job after school was touring the Frank’s RedHot Battle to the Bone Buffalo Wing Eating Championship around the country. While Frank’s was a great client, the event planning experience was not for me and I left to explore healthcare and corporate PR at MS&L in New York City. So began my love affair with B2B marketing and communications.

Eventually, I joined BlissPR, a B2B public relations firm. At Bliss, I matured as a professional, specializing in high visibility media relations campaigns and strategic PR planning for accounting, retail, architecture, executive search and real estate firms. Towards the end of my tenure at Bliss, with the help of mentor Elizabeth Sosnow, I began incorporating Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and SEO, as part of comprehensive PR and communications programs for clients.

Exactly one year ago, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime – to build communications programs from the ground up as the Director of Communications for XONEX Relocation, a third party relocation services provider, and Holman Moving Systems, a household moving company in Delaware and New Jersey. Today, I plan and implement all of the communications, website and social media initiatives for both companies, which involves B2B and B2C audiences.

So you transitioned from an agency to the “client side.” How has that gone?

I remember when I was tapped to learn social media. I thought it was going to be the greatest challenge of my career. Scratch that….adjusting to work on the client side is by far the hardest transition I’ve ever made. In an internal marketing role, you are an educator, a cheerleader, a referee, a pusher, a planner, a budgeter, an implementer and, in my case, the voice of the company. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do – but it is a different animal. If you are looking to make the switch, here are some tips:

Love the company. Unlike an agency, you won’t have multiple clients – instead, you will be immersed in one culture, one industry and one team. You better like it…a lot!

Educate. If the company is new to communications, especially social media marketing, you need to schedule training sessions with senior leadership. This will help you establish some authority and secure buy-in for programs. So far, I’ve held social media 101, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogging and analytics trainings for management and the sales team.

Be patient. On the client side, you are not working with a team of people that share your daily goals. Sure, they want marketing to be successful, but they are understandably more concerned with business operations. You need to plan ahead, give long deadlines, follow up religiously and understand when issues arise that may slow your marketing plan down.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. I’m still working on this one. Neither company had much of a communications program prior to my joining so when I think about all of the things that have to come together in order to build these brands, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Take it one step at a time and know that things won’t be perfect right away. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

You also spent time in both the B2B and B2C world. What similarities and differences do you see?

I think B2B and B2C marketing have far more similarities than differences. Sure, some of the tactics may be different, but the process is always the same. Whether its B2B or B2C, good marketers will identify an audience, find out where they hang out, listen to what they have to say, create interesting content based on their needs, determine the tone with which they want to hear it and design the package in which they want it delivered.  Add in some metrics and you have a plan.

Social media has turned everyone into consumers with faces, names, personalities and habits. Even in B2B marketing, we are no longer talking to a faceless entity – we are talking to people. That’s no different from any consumer brand out there.

Finally, what are your thoughts or tips on building brands with social media?

A couple of years ago I wrote a guest post for Kyle Lacy that addressed why social `media is important for B2B businesses. I stand by that post. Social media is not a fad – all companies should be considering how to integrate social media into their marketing and communications programs. I strongly encourage companies to designate people within the business to be the online face of the brand. You can hire consulting to help refine a communications strategy and you can outsource SEO, design and social media technical support, but, in order to be authentic, a real person on the inside needs to do the talking.

Are you thinking about a similar transition? Why or why not? What tips would you give to people who want to explore in-house marketing?

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Let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. Want more? Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog today!

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
Showing 6 comments
  • Eric Anders

    Good exchange! Paige is like a fresh,light breeze who’s trying to blow away the fog that has clouded the moving industry’s misunderstanding and mistrust of the objectives of effective social media marketing.

    She is an excellent representative of the business benefits that open, honest customer engagement and problem solving can have in the virtual marketplace.

    I always enjoy hearing her perspective.

  • Paige Holden

    Great to see you here Eric, and thank you for the kind words.

    This a very new medium for such an old industry that’s already been beaten up by myriad changes over the years. Of course, the ways that rogue movers have abused the internet for their own, disreputable gains, has also caused the good movers to be very skeptical of anything online. We are a defensive bunch by nature.

    But, good movers can only benefit from drowning out the riff-raff and educating, helping and engaging consumers whenever and wherever they want the conversation to happen.

    We’ll get there!

    Cheers,
    Paige

  • Kathy Holman

    Well said. As the CEO for XONEX Relocation and Holman Moving Systems, I think you are doing a great job teaching us the value of social media in our daily work lives. Even though it’s all new, we are enjoying the journey!

  • Paige Holden

    Well, shucks, thanks boss!

    Glad to see you engaging in the blogosphere lately. This is an excellent way to warm up to social media. 😉

  • Stefan Mayo

    Hi Paige,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I was attending the iStrategy conference in SF this week and hear several speakers share their experience on B2B marketing using social media. I did learn that both B2B and B2C social media marketers face the same two challenges:
    1. Engaging in the conversation and protecting the brand
    2. Generating leads and customers

    It helped me put things into perspective when setting up the next round of social media objectives.

  • Paige Holden

    Hi Stefan,

    Thanks for commenting. It sounds like iStrategy was a good event – thanks for you sharing your experience.

    I agree with that B2B/B2C marketing assessment. When you drill down to basic needs, it doesn’t really matter what kind of business you are marketing.

    Good luck with your next round of projects!
    Paige