The days of first class travel and five-star hotels are over. So how do you
connect with potential partners and "make the sale" when you've only
got a few dollars to spend?
Through the power of the Internet, you can connect with potential customers
and partners, check in on relevant industry news and share your thoughts, all
from the comfort of your office. Online B2B social networking is a great first
step. And given all the tools available and the multitude of different platforms,
there is bound to be a way to connect to your demographic.
Traditional partner portals have become static and stale. There's also the
problem that with the information explosion, it becomes harder to get your message
to stand out above the noise and to get the attention of the partners you are
trying to reach.
In addition, the cost of enabling partners is very difficult to scale, meaning
as you try to increase the number of partners, you need more partner account
managers and more marketing budget. Within most enterprises it's an "80/20"
rule, where 80% of the resources and attention are put towards the top 20% producing
partners. The problem is that the remaining 80% of the partners still represents
a significant source of potential revenue. But with the advent of online communities
and social networking, there is now a transformative technology that enables
the reach of this "long tail of the channel" in a cost-effective fashion.
Let's take a look at some recent B2B social networking trends in the industry.
Many companies are experimenting with Facebook fan pages, LinkedIn groups and
Twitter, social networking sites where individuals can chat and share ideas.
For most companies, the ROI is often not clear and efforts are ad hoc. There's
also a general lack of integrating a social networking strategy into a community
that drives business for your company.
Instead of simply posting content on social media sites, business managers
need to look to purpose-built online communities to engage business partners
and drive sales. Leverage ones that are focused on B2B communities around business
partners, and contain the right processes and tools to enable and collaborate
with partners to drive business.
But simply having a B2B partner community does not ensure success. Creating
a successful online community requires the same discipline and approach as does
any other business endeavor.