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B2B case study: How I’d reach out to @BestBuyCMO (and other decision makers) through social

Instead of posting an excerpt of my recent guest post for Brian Solis, here’s an imaginary anecdote to illustrate the phenomenon I’m discussing in the piece:

Imagine you are a B2B company, and Best Buy is one of your hottest prospects. As with many B2B vendors, marketing executives are the ultimate decision-makers for what you sell. So, you take a traditional approach at first to reaching out to Best Buy’s marketing personnel. You call in, trying to access the top levels of the organization, starting with Barry Judge, their CMO. Predictably, you encounter several obstacles to contacting him by phone. In fact, you’re not even able to leave him a voice mail, as a receptionist informs you he doesn’t take unrequested calls from vendors as per policy (again, this is imagined–not saying Best Buy does this). You then try to call others near the top of the marketing ladder, only to encounter the same walls. Switching to email, you find several emails of Best Buy marketing managers on a list that you’ve purchased from another vendor. You make each message personal and unique, and you don’t blast them all at once. And yet, you receive not one response.

Then you switch gears. You decide to go social. Using a tool like FollowerWonk, you search Twitter for users that have “BestBuy” in their bios. Right at the top you find @BestBuyCMO, Barry Judge’s account. You follow him of course, deciding to engage with him about what he’s tweeting about, as opposed to what you want from him. The fifth time you mention him or retweet him, he thanks you. The tenth time, he carries on the conversation for a few more tweets. He might know your Twitter handle, but he probably doesn’t know what you’re selling, and it’s unlikely at this point that he’ll dig deeper.

You then notice that the link in his Twitter bio doesn’t go to a Best Buy website, but to his own blog. In the last two months, he’s written five posts. The average comment count is around 6. He personally responds to a few of them. Because you’re not stupid, you decide that you want to leave an intelligent comment or two on his blog. Every time you do so, you reason, he’ll get an email notification, complete with your name, comment, and a link to your company’s website or your Twitter profile. And because he’s interested in what people think of his posts, he reads these emails. He responds to your comment.

You wait a few days and try emailing him again. This time, you take the time to personalize the message even more, telling him how you really enjoyed his post and maybe even adding further thoughts on it to kick off the message. This time, he opens it. He recognizes your name from your combined Twitter and blog comment efforts, and he liked what you had to say through both channels. He responds, and eventually you set up a meeting.

Now, ask yourself: At what point does the scenario I described here stop being possible? Why? I explore this question in When Will the Social Media Gatekeepers Arrive? Enjoy, and please share and comment if you think it adds to the conversation!

Special thanks to Barry Judge for being a great example of how CMOs can get social.

Ian Greenleigh
Author | Turning data into stories | Sr Mgr, Content & Social Strategy, Bazaarvoice | Former baby