The case studies we’ve included show how personal branding, online promotions, and cultivating social and real-world communities can yield significant B2B marketing success. You can expect to leave with some original ideas to add into your B2B marketing strategy.
Social Chain – The Power of Personality
Founded just three years ago, this meme factory has risen to become one of the biggest B2B brands in social marketing, offering clients the opportunity to appear on immensely popular channels like Love Food (Instagram, 6.8m followers), BeFitMotivation (Twitter, 1.78m followers) and Hogwarts Logic (561,000k followers).
Social Chain’s achievements are clearly sufficient to warrant a great deal of attention in their own right – but another key factor in the brand’s visibility has been the careful cultivation of its founder, Steve Bartlett, into a prominent influencer.
If you ever want to gauge the breadth of somebody’s appeal, just take a look at the “People also search for” entries on their Google card. On Steve Bartlett’s, the celebrated misogynist Dapper Laughs sits snugly alongside Paul Mason, the economist.
Building Brand Bartlett is a constant endeavour, resulting in daily YouTube videos showing the 24-year-old espousing worldly wisdom, acting altruistically and – in one memorable instalment – having a football kicked at his testicles.
We’ve been a little flippant about Mr Bartlett, but make no bones about it: his online personal branding campaign is a roaring success.
With 258k likes on Facebook, 81k followers on Instagram and 72k followers on Twitter, Bartlett draws a huge amount of attention to the Social Chain brand. All that attention will inevitably translate into B2B leads – whether through direct exposure or as a product of the enhancement to Social Chain’s reputation.
By contrast, Social Chain itself has 12k Facebook likes, and 7k Instagram followers and 24k Twitter followers.
The making of an influencer
Becoming an influencer is an attainable goal for just about anyone, given the right tactics. Let’s pick out just a handful of the many ideas and techniques Social Chain have used to build a buzz around their founder:
Online influencers differ from most online celebrities in that the people who follow them generally expect to learn something , with a vision to emulating their success.
This would suggest you’ll have a far better chance of finding a following if you can present yourself as successful.
Steve Bartlett is no shrinking violet in this regard. His Twitter background photo shows him speaking to a packed auditorium; his wealth is regularly made conspicuous in social posts (“I’LL GIVE MY ROLEX TO CHARITY IF I DON’T DO IT,” yells one video title); and his newspaper appearances invariably mention how he founded Social Chain at the tender age of 21.
You don’t have to give away your watch to convince people you’re successful – but you do need to consistently communicate success to your audience.
Becoming a regular fixture
Steve Bartlett’s vlogs go out every evening at 8 o’clock sharp, providing a regular fixture for his audience. Publishing content regularly breeds habitual consumption, and thereby, loyalty.
Be reassured that weekly updates can work just as well as daily ones. So long as you can get your audience to look forward to consuming your content every day/Wednesday/start of the month/at any other regular interval, you’re in business.
Mixing entertainment with advice
You’ll only keep your audience engaged if you can ensure your output is multi-faceted. Just as Steven Bartlett’s combines honest advice with lighter or more colourful moments, so too should your content demonstrate the breadth of your character.
Google AdWords – a high-value, low-cost giveaway
If you’ve ever Googled anything to do with digital marketing (and we’re guessing you have), you will have probably at some point have been served an ad offering you £75 free ad credit when you sign up to Google AdWords. If not, you probably had AdWords already.
AdWords’ £75 ad credit voucher campaign and its international equivalents have been around for years, and they keep on attracting new sign-ups for the service. Here are the reasons why we think this campaign has become something of a B2B marketing stalwart:
£75 free credit! Doesn’t that sound generous? Even when you’re taken into account the fact you have to first spend £25 to activate the promotion, it’s effectively 300% extra, free.
Of course, AdWords has it easier than most brands when it comes to offering its generous promotions – the cost of facilitating its ad service must be relatively low compared with the price account holders pay per-click. What’s to stop them giving away a chunk of Ad credit with a high price tag to a hearty share of their new customers, when that ad credit costs them, the service provider, very little indeed?
If, like AdWords, you can boast impressive numbers in a B2B promotion, you’ll stand a good chance of getting noticed. So if you’re a software provider whose digital toolkit costs £159/month to use, why not rebrand your 1 month’s free trial as a £159 voucher? Or if you’re trying to promote a gamified product, why not offer 100 free in-game tokens, as opposed to a free play? Impressive numbers turn heads.
Time and scope for success
The ultimate goal of a promotion like this one is to turn leads into long-term clients. To succeed in this aim, it will need to offer sufficient time and scope for the client to see that the product works successfully. That’s exactly what this promotion does.
Let’s first consider the timescale involved. If the client starts off with a campaign budget of £10/day for their AdWords ads, they’ll have a whole ten days to burn through their initial £100 and gain a basic grasp of the platform. They can bet their bottom dollar they’ll hear from some helpful AdWords reps during this time too.
What’s more important, however, is the scope allowed by that £100 ad credit.
AdWords ads have an average conversion rate of barely over 2%, and with ad bids often costing $1-$2 per-click, an initial credit injection is required to give users a fighting chance of seeing one of their new ads convert. It’s safe to assume this must have been a consideration for AdWords bosses when they designed this promotion.
Last Minute Musicians – building and tapping into a community
Have you ever considered creating a Facebook group to promote your business?
You may not have because branded Facebook groups all-too-often end up reflecting badly on the brand through dearth of members.
However, the function musicians network Last Minute Musicians has proven this approach can work with their thriving group, Dep Musicians in the UK – Needed and Available.
The group doesn’t have much to do with the LMM’s services – rather, it’s a dedicated noticeboard where people can post when they need a musician to perform at an event, to join a band that’s missing a member, and so on.
LMM know that whilst they’re barely using the group to directly market services to members, it does provide an opportunity for them to get their name out to its exact target audience: professional musicians looking for gigs. The group is an asset, which they exploit by including the following:
- Branding – cover photo shows the brand’s logo
- Direct promotion – LMM have boldly included a link to their registration page in group’s pinned post. They get away with this, one suspects, because the rest of the post goes on to spell out a ream of group rules aimed at protecting musicians’ rights. The inclusion of brand and service details in the group’s “About” content can also be construed as promotional.
- Links to LMM’s website and Facebook page
At the time of writing, these marketing elements are being communicated to 38,879 group members. In the act of joining, every last one of these people has identified themselves as the target audience. Not too shabby.
Should you set up a Facebook group?
If you can link your organisation to some kind of interest group or professional niche, there’s good reason to believe this tactic could work for you.
Try to establish your group as a facilitator of its members’ professional advancement, perhaps by encouraging job-related posts or the sharing of resources. To get the ball rolling, be sure to choose a suitably descriptive name. And moving forward, you can use devices like daily themes, prompts and topical content shares to keep the conversation alive. Remember to be sensitive in your approach to self-promoting via the group – yes, you need to make a return on your hard work in running the group, but a high volume and intensity of marketing will likely alienate users.
You should also be aware that running a Facebook group is a long-term commitment, with a volume of work that only grows with group engagement.
HubSpot – playing the host
It’s surely every brand’s dream to be part of the furniture of society – not to settle for being a provider of goods or services, but instead to become a pillar of its community.
One way to achieve this goal is to play the host.
Inbound marketing and sales software providers HubSpot have been striving to do exactly that by organising – or lending its name as a partner – to a globe-straddling programme of digital marketing and e-commerce related events.
From a social media camp in British Columbia and a UX conference in Cape Town to partner events in Leeds, Milan and Tel Aviv, Hub Spot are radiating their brand to their target audience by ploughing time and marketing budget into putting on events. From where we’re standing, it shows them in a good light.
Making your brand the focal point
Not many of us have quite the same level of brand recognition or marketing budget as HubSpot, but we can all take lessons from the way they’ve used events to make their brand a focal point within their field:
Some of the events offered by HubSpot and its partners carry a ticket price – but most of these are priced very reasonably, and others are free.
This tells us that HubSpot’s events – and by extension its services – are open and affordable to everyone in the business community. You can’t establish yourself as the focal point if you’re not inclusive.
Events targeting different niches
Take a look at HubSpot’s events listings and you’ll notice the events tend to target very particular digital niches – UX, social media, and so on. Targeting niches separately in this manner will often prove more effective than holding a broad-tent event. Occasional digital marketing summits work well enough, but on a weekly or even a monthly basis, it’s better to provide deep engagement with a particular field.
Tap into local networks
HubSpot’s events have relied to some degree on the support of local partners to drum up interest. This is a mutually beneficial relationship: HubSpot gets to tap into a local network and resources, and the local partner gets to roll itself in a little bit of the larger brand’s glory.