In each issue of Figaro Digital magazine we ask senior marketers to throw caution to the wind and take a stand on the issues that really matter to them. Simon Carter, Executive Director of Marketing, UK & Ireland at Fujitsu, tells us why B2B is failing to get to grips with social media. Simon will be among the speakers at the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference in London on 27 November 2014
Are there any lessons you’d like to see B2B marketers taking from their B2C counterparts?
In my experience of working in both sectors, B2C tends to be quicker, involve less internal stakeholders, and engage with more testing and risk taking. B2B should seek to do the same – why do we need every salesman and operational person dumbing down the message? Why do we need to go through multiple levels of governance, thus missing the opportunity? And why can’t we experiment with sub-segments, even though the audience is smaller?
The answer is often because of where a B2B marketer sits within the food chain. B2C organisations have more board-level marketers, so get to be heard more. In B2B, they don’t feel they have the same ability to call the shots. Now is the time for B2B marketers to rise up and seize the moment!
In the past you’ve been sceptical about the value of social media in B2B marketing. What are the sources of that scepticism?
Put simply, results. I am yet to see case studies where social media in B2B has generated repeatable, quantifiable and substantial results.
Given the effort that we are all putting into it, I know that I would get a better return elsewhere in the mix – but we are all too scared not to keep trying. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, there are still many business that do not permit social media in the workplace; and too many senior decision-makers who are Luddites. There is also a perception that social media is frivolous and something to be left outside the office.
Finally is the role of the procurement officer in B2B, who too often seeks to commoditise every purchase, and hence take social out of the buying equation. In time, I am sure that all of these will be overcome, but for now I remain sceptical. I would also add that because social is ‘free’ in many people’s eyes, the quality of thought that goes into the execution is reduced, so too much of it becomes noise. With ‘paid for’ media, the effort is greater, and the cut-through stronger.
This article appeared in Issue 22 of Figaro Digital: October 2014