Can Marketers Really Generate Sales on Social Media?


At last week’s MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, Andrew Davis had the crowd roaring with laughter as he impersonated a marketer with a fresh piece of content.

“Let’s put it on the blog!” he exclaimed.

“Let’s put it on Facebook! And Twitter! And Pinterest! And Flickr! And Google+, for the two people still using it.”

It was funny, because for a lot of marketers, it’s true. Too many of us fall victim to the “spray and pray” approach to social media marketing. We push our content anywhere we can get it, and cross our fingers hoping one of these posts turn into an engagement, a new relationship, a sale. That’s why I was so excited to attend the session titled “How to Use Social Media to Generate Actual Sales”, led by social media gurus John Foley Jr. and Karen DeWolf of InterlinkOne.

The Difference between Social Media Marketing and Prospecting

The duo began by explaining the difference between social media marketing and social media prospecting, and the importance of using both in an on-going social strategy.

Social Media Marketing: This is very much a content based approach. We, as marketers, push out content that we hope people are going to consume; and usually we hope they somehow get to our website and become a lead. While it’s important to make sure your company has a steady stream of information going out on social, the “spray and pray” technique will not effectively drive revenue. Here are the three attributes John and Karen use to describe social media marketing:

  • Publishing educational and contextual content for the purpose of brand awareness
  • Primary focus: acquisition of more social followers, generation of inbound
  • Listening for purpose of customer service and reputation management

Social Media Prospecting: The differentiator here is one-to-one engagement. You conduct sales by finding your customer’s problem and then solving it. You do that by listening and having conversations, which can be conducted on social media. The three attributes John and Karen use to describe social media prospecting are as follows:

  • It’s a simple process: gather, qualify, refine, retarget
  • Primary focus: reaching and connecting with targeted customers and prospects
  • Listening for purposes of lead generation for sales, solving problems, thus driving additional revenue

When a company is interesting in utilizing social media to drive revenue, social media prospecting is the winning strategy.

The Social Media Marketing Struggle is Real

One of the biggest realizations I had walking away from this session was the fact that even though social media marketing has existed now for over five years, for many marketers the social media marketing struggle is still very real. And it’s not for lack of trying. It’s because social media is an ever-changing environment; there are new tools, new social platforms, and new tactics clashing with old-school misconceptions and unproven “best practices.”

Luckily, John and Karen saved the day, answering the audience’s most pressing social media marketing questions. Here are a few of the questions from the audience, and their expert answers.

Q: How do you get the sales team involved in social prospecting?

John: You need to get C-suite buy-in. Educate these folks. Find some content with statistics that prove a methodology and share it with them.

Q: When it comes to social bios, do you think it’s more effective to describe your personal or professional passions?

Karen: You have to humanize your brand (company or personal brand). Have a mixture of professional and personal insight into yourself. You might start a new relationship in an online experience, but people still buy from people.

Q: What are some good examples of B2B brands with successful social marketing programs?

John: Cannon… IMB… BMC… Dell…. There are actually quite a lot of great B2B examples out there.

Closing out the session, John and Karen provided some actionable tips to support the sales funnel and ultimately drive revenue through social media. Below are some of the quick social media marketing tips from the pros.

4 Tips to Improve Your Bottom Line

  1. Prospecting: As mentioned earlier, social media prospecting is more about listening, less about shouting your message. Work to build new relationships and support existing relationships on the social channels your audience is most likely to use.
  2. Pre-call research: Before a sales representative picks up the phone, they should spend some time researching the prospect via social media. Pre-call research can help uncover recent news about the prospective company, mutual acquaintances or common passions.
  3. Following-up: If you hit a road block contacting a prospect by phone or email, try following up with a message on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
  4. Maintaining long lasting relationships with customers: It’s far more cost-effective to sell a product or service to an existing customer, than someone you don’t have a relationship with. Use social media to stay in touch with your customers, send helpful articles their way and engage with their posts to keep the relationship embers burning.

Turn Social Media Into A Revenue Driver

This interactive and engaging session spawned amazing questions and conversations amongst the audience. It became clear that for many marketers, social media marketing remains a hot topic of discussion, and Karen and John expertly guided the audience through actionable tips to transition social media into a revenue driver.

Let’s keep the conversation going on our blog. Comment below or tweet us at @TopRank to share your unanswered social media marketing question.

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Can Marketers Really Generate Sales on Social Media? |

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Chemical Safety Board says multiple errors led to fatal accident

Two workers died in 2013 Williams Olefin chemical plant explosion

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ACS establishes new journal for earth and space chemistry

Joel Blum of the University of Michigan is named inaugural editor-in-chief

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6 Truth Bombs Every B2B Marketer Needs to Hear About Creativity


“Do you want to be creative?”

Jay Acunzo, founder, host and writer of, asked marketers this question as he kicked off his session Unthinkable: Content Creativity For The Hopelessly Uncreative at MarketingProf’s B2B Marketing Forum last week in Boston.

Acunzo acknowledged the question was a bit silly. It’s like asking if you want more time in your day or more resources for your team. The answer is always an unequivocal “yes.”

But while this may seem like a weird question to ask marketers, it actually gets to the heart of the creative struggle we all feel: Of course we want to be creative; creativity is necessary and intertwined with everything we do. But we often find ourselves aspiring to be more creative than actually harnessing what’s already inside us as creators.

Boom. Truth bomb dropped. And the truth barrage was just getting started.

Below I dive into some of the inspirational creativity truths that Acunzo brought into focus during his presentation. They certainly inspired new confidence in my own marketing abilities—and I hope they do the same for you.

#1 – Creativity isn’t an idea or aspiration; it’s a work ethic.

We often put creativity on a pedestal, wishing and hoping for just a small piece of it to come our way. But the truth is: Creativity isn’t something we’re given; it’s a work ethic.

Let’s stop thinking about creativity as something we’re always reaching for, and start believing that hard work and a strong work ethic will allow us to tap what is already inside us.

“Let’s get to work,” Acunzo encouraged. “Our jobs are not to be creative. Our jobs are to create.”

#2 – When you break away from the conventional, you can stop playing and start shaping.

We’ve all been told to color outside the lines, think outside the box or challenge the status quo. But fear, uncertainty or lack of confidence can prevent us from trying something new.

As Acunzo said: “Sometimes you have to zig when others zag.”

The bottom line? You can’t build something big if you’re doing what everyone else is doing. Questioning the conventional will allow you to shape your brand and your message so you can stand out in the noisy marketing world.

#3 – In order to embrace your creativity you need to trust and embrace your intuition.

We often think that going with our creative intuition is a big leap of faith. But really, we’ve actually worked our way there through a series of small steps. And once we’re there, sometimes we just have to do what feels right.

#4 – Constraints fuel creativity.

Think about it. When you’re working within certain boundaries and requirements, you have to find a way to make the most out of it—and that can bring your creativity to a whole new level.

#5 – Resourcefulness beats resources every time.

We often feel like we don’t have the tools, technology, the team and the talent to be highly creative. But that really couldn’t be farther from the truth.

We marketers are scrappy. We’re innovative. We can and have made the absolute most out of whatever resources we’re given. But the key to success here isn’t luck. You have to tinker. You have to experiment. You have to practice. This will not only help you refine you process, but also find opportunities to use your resources in new ways.

#6 – You’re the key to your creativity. You’re the starter.

After telling a delightful story about the rivalry between two pizza joints in his hometown, Acunzo revealed that it isn’t the ingredients that set these pizza places apart—but rather the starter used to make the pizza dough.

You see, like each of us, no two starters are the same. The experiences and elements we’re exposed to make us who we are as unique individuals. Use that uniqueness to your advantage to set your marketing efforts apart from your competitors. Be the starter.

Creativity vs. Creating

In the end, creativity isn’t something that should be aspired to or worshiped. It something inherent in us, coming out when we put our minds to the task of creating something.

So, we shouldn’t be asking ourselves: “Do you want to be creative?” The real question is: “Do you want to create?”

How do you use your experiences to drive creativity in everything you create? Share with us in the comments section below.

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Tips From the Godfather for Turning Your B2B Content Marketing Into A Profit Center


Unfortunately, marketing is often seen as a cost center within many B2B organizations. Whenever it comes time to cut budgets, you know that marketing is the first to take a hit. But what if there was a way to not only take a lead generation approach to content marketing, but also generate actual revenue in the process?

Last week at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi shared some insider tips and secrets for companies that want to leverage their content to generate revenue.

When the godfather of content marketing has a session that describes how to profit from content creation, it’s a must-see. Why? Who better to speak on the subject than someone who has built a content media company from the ground up, with enormous success?

B2B Can Learn From B2C

B2C brands have long been monetizing their content. In fact, Joe says that it seems like “Every month we are going to see a large B2C company come out and say “we’re a media company now.””

There is however one very important aspect for B2B marketers to keep in mind before heading down this path: If you don’t already have an audience, focus on that before trying to build a profit center around your content.

Understanding the Content Tilt

When preparing to create any piece of content, most savvy marketers will consider:

  • What pain point can I solve for my reader?
  • Where is our sweet spot in terms of knowledge/value?

But that’s where they stop. And if we’re being honest, chances are that if most companies did an audit of their content against their competitors, it would be hard to tell the difference between them.

The concept of the content tilt is taking your content planning and creation one step further to determine an area of little to no competition on the web where you can break through and tell a different story.

Start with Your Content Mission Statement

Most companies have a defined mission for their organization as a whole, but not for their content marketing programs. Defining your content mission is an incredibly useful exercise that can be referenced if you’re wondering if a particular piece of content aligns with your business goals.

At the core, a content mission is very simple. It should:

  1. Describe your core audience
  2. Explain what will be delivered
  3. Provide insight into what the audience will accomplish

Focus Efforts on Growing Your Subscribers

One of the key metrics marketers always have a pulse on is their network size. This number is usually a combination of social media networks, email lists, blog subscribers and more.

However, all of these networks are not created equal.

Recent research has found that less than 1% of a brand’s audience on Facebook actually see the messages that you publish. And that number will only continue to fluctuate because you don’t have control over the platform.

Email subscribers however are content marketing gold. Why? These consumers have given you one of the most coveted things in the business world, their email address.

In order to offer value to your subscribers, Joe said that there are two “must haves”:

  • Amazing E-Newsletter
  • Exchange of Value (eBook, Research Report, etc.)

3 Ways to Turn Your Content Marketing Into A Profit Center

#1 – Consider Online Training

People today are hungry for knowledge. And, they want it when they want it in a way that is convenient for them. Online trainings are a fantastic way to share your content with a large audience in a way that can also be quite profitable.

One pro tip from Joe when implementing an online training program is to create a sense of urgency by not allowing open enrollment, but instead having a deadline or semesters where people can sign up.

For people looking to run online training, here are some of the tools that Joe recommended:

  • LMS (Absorb)
  • Payment System (
  • Video/GoToMeeting/PPT Record
  • Speaker’s Agreement

Once you build the platform, leverage the community inside and outside your company to draw people to your trainings.

#2 – Identify Key Sponsors

Content Marketing Institute has a well-developed process for how their sponsor relationships work. Sponsors know that based on the amount that they pay, they will have access to CMI’s audience in very specific ways.

Some options for featuring sponsors in content include:

  • Placement on the sidebar your website or blog
  • Inclusion in brand newsletters
  • Logos in the footer of web pages
  • Content creation by the sponsors on your blog

It’s important to limit your online inventory so that your readers still have a great experience.

#3 – Develop Original Research

In 2009, Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs decided to begin collaborating on a leading content marketing research report (because they identified the need for one). Since then, these yearly reports have become the authority on everything content marketing for both B2B and B2C brands.

I know our team at TopRank Marketing has referenced these reports through the years to provide insights into current industry trends. And we’re not alone. Joe shared that one of their content reports from last year has over 50,000 inbound links to that one piece of content alone.

Just last month, they published their newest report: B2B Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends –North America

Original research is another great way to utilize a sponsor to help cover the costs (and even generate a profit) for the content.

Start Generating Revenue From Your Content!

If you want to change the perception of your marketing department from a cost center to a profit center, then these insights should give you a running start. But remember that in order for these tactics to be successful, you must have an audience in place already.

For more insights from the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, follow our team on Twitter at: @TopRank@leeodden, @azeckman@amywhiggins@leiladlf and @CaitlinMBurgess.

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Tips From the Godfather for Turning Your B2B Content Marketing Into A Profit Center |

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The Wings Belonging To Male Fruit Flies Are Hiding A Seductive Design

Although the human eye cannot perceive its beauty, the wings of a male fruit fly are hiding a beautiful design of swirling bright colors. And it seems that these colorful wing designs serve a purpose, and that purpose is to attract females.

This hidden array of colors located on the wings of fruit flies has only been recently discovered by researchers at Lund University. The wings of the fruit fly are very thin and transparent. When the transparent wings are held against a black backdrop the various color patterns become visible. The colored wings have only been observed as belonging to small insects, such as flies and wasps, which have wings that measure at only a few nanometers.

Researchers at Lund University have also recently determined that the color scheme visible on the wings of fruit flies has a marked effect on female sexual selection. Researchers are now interested in how fruit flies behave around various shades of light since the colors only become visible under certain lighting conditions.

Why would the various wing-colors appear only on small insects with very thin wings, and not larger insects with thicker wings?

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The Harry Potter makeup love keeps on coming. Check out this gorgeous highlight and contour palette from Etsy.

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