Demand Generation

How B2B Social Media Marketing Drives Inbound Leads (Hint It’s All About Risk and Brand)

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Risk The B2B buying process is far from rational or simple. Enquiro’s groundbreaking research into the B2B buying process found that managing risk plays a much bigger role in buying decisions than previously thought, and that companies that can manage the “risk gap” will be at a significant advantage for driving new business.

There are a variety of “risk control mechanisms” that buyers use to mitigate risk:

  • Personal experience. We trust those we know.
  • Approved vendor list. If a vendor is on an organizations “approved” list, the risk of choosing that vendor is transferred to the person that put the vendor on the list.
  • Referrals from trusted sources. A recommendation from peers, co-workers, or existing vendors goes a long way to mitigating risk.
  • Wisdom of crowds. If we don’t have personal experience with a vendor, or know someone who does, we generally trust in the wisdom of crowds.

The more B2B marketers can tap into these mechanisms, the stronger position they will be in to capture their prospect’s business. This is what B2B branding is all about. What is a brand but a heuristic that buyers can use to simplify complex decision making?

In today’s buying climate, prospective customers take control of their buying process and decide when they want to engage with a vendor. This means that the companies with the strongest brands — built using referral and the wisdom of crowds — will enjoy the best flow of highly qualified inbound leads. We see this in Marketo’s business, and I’m sure many of you see the same trend in your business.

This is the hard-to-measure but undeniable connection between brand building and lead generation, between buzz and demand, between social media and inbound leads. It’s why I believe that companies that are thinking strategically about demand generation need to allocate a significant portion of their demand generation time and money to less measurable brand building techniques, including using social media to tap into the wisdom of crowds. Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll describe the four key connections between social media and brand.