Applying Social Marketing Principles to B2B Marketing

Applying Social Marketing Principles to B2B Marketing

Marketing is about changing people’s behavior, so B2B marketing can learn from social marketing principles.

This article is the fourth and final article in a series of articles on social marketing. To begin at the beginning, click here to read the first article.

Social marketing is a public-health marketing methodology that uses commercial marketing techniques to promote behaviors that will improve the health and well-being of target audiences. Commonly used by government agencies and nonprofits—stop smoking, get vaccinated, or eat healthy foods—social marketing involves the target audience in the campaign.

Whether encouraging the adoption of healthy eating habits or promoting a medical device to hospitals, people make decisions based on whether the message and accompanying images appeal to them.

Formative Evaluation and Planning

Formative evaluation and planning is akin to audience analysis and marketing strategy. Effective marketing requires deep audience and market knowledge to craft and disseminate effective messaging.

Research will help you understand and plan:

  • Who is your target audience—really? If the CEO is merely a figurehead and most decisions are made by the COO, then your target audience should be the COO.
  • What tactic will engage your audience most? If they’re too busy to open their own mail, a direct mail campaign may be ineffective.
  • When should they get your message? If the target audience slows down purchasing in the summer, then a fall or spring campaign may work better.

Message and Materials Development

Once you know your audience, your competition, and the market landscape, you can craft effective materials to use in your campaign. After all, you know the mindset of your target and what he or she deals with on a daily basis. Also, you understand how and when to reach out to your target to ensure receptivity.

Use the knowledge you’ve gained from your research to develop compelling messaging and effective materials. Your research will help you determine what type of materials and activities will work best, what they need to say and involve, and how they need to look and feel.

Pretesting and Campaign Adjustment

Many marketers—especially ones marketing businesses to other businesses—skip campaign pretesting due to time and budget constraints. Further, the C-suite’s impression that it knows its audience best through direct, anecdotal experience can play a factor in skipping testing and adjustment—and can result in materials and messages that miss their targets.

Comments from your target audience on materials you’ve created from your research will help you see whether you’ve effectively translated your findings. Making adjustments to your materials and methods before a full-on campaign launch can save time and budget over the long run.

Implementation and Materials Dissemination

Often, marketers measure the dissemination of a campaign, rather than its impact on sales or whether it generated leads.

Just delivering a message doesn’t tell you whether it worked. Okay—you sent 1,000 direct-mail pieces to C-suite executives. Great. But if only five people opened the piece and only one responded, then it wasn’t successful.

Implementation should follow a finely tuned marketing plan that aligns with a strategy, and it should include multiple channels and appropriate frequency. Carefully implementing multiple messages in different formats and at different times, while measuring continually, makes more successful current and future campaigns.

Impact Evaluation and Feedback

Because it is borne out of the government-funded public-health industry, social marketing must be measured, its effects analyzed, and reports generated.

All marketers should assume this level of evaluation as best practice. What worked? What flopped? How many people clicked on the call to action and followed the steps? Did people call for more information or ask to speak to sales? Best of all: Did they purchase the product or service?

This is the fourth and final article in a series on social marketing. Read our first article in the series on social marketing by clicking here. Want to get these articles as they come out? Sign up for our monthly news bites e-mails.

Posted: Nov 11, 2015
Updated: Oct 08, 2019
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