Sunday, March 14, 2010

Social Media Takes to the Field

During the past three decades football has eclipsed all other sports as the passion of the American fan.

It’s a game that idolizes glamour positions such as quarterback, wide receiver and running back. These players typically dominate the headlines and bask in the accolades that come with victories.

Yet, for all of their royalty these darlings of the gridiron would fail to produce a championship without the efforts of the men on the line. These hulking masses repeatedly slam into each other with the goal of gaining a mere yard or two of advantage.

Yes, the football divas stand as stars. However, championships are won with blocking and tackling.

The same can be said about business. C-suite executives, strategists, subject matter experts and industry thought leaders often command the attention of journalists, analysts and other influencers.

Consider the reporting of corporate adoption of social media marketing. Scan the headlines of influential trade magazines like Brandweek, BtoB, PR Week and Advertising Age and one gets the impression that social media is the domain of corporate communications and marketing departments.

Yet, like in professional football, headlines and recognition can be misleading as to who contributes the most to corporate success. At Strategic Communications Group (Strategic), we’ve established a rather unique niche of building social media campaigns for field sales and marketing organizations.

It’s in the field that we have found social media marketing to be most accountable in areas critical to a company’s growth – lead generation, cultivation of sales prospects, deal capture and search engine optimization (SEO). Corporate sets the plan and establishes the guidelines, but it is the field that moves the business forward one deal at a time.

Let’s explore a couple of examples.

Monster: Discretion in Data Sales

Best known for, the online site for job seekers, the company also has a productive business selling proprietary job market data and trends to educational institutions and government agencies.

For example, economic development offices in local municipalities need to know what kind of training is required to get unemployed workers back on the payroll.

The company’s “Unleash the Monster” social media marketing campaign allows the field sales team to directly engage with targeted customers and prospects in a thought leadership environment. By providing helpful information to federal, state/local and educational audiences, Monster builds community while more rapidly pushing opportunities through the sales pipeline.

British Telecom (BT): Doing Well by Doing Good

In the US, the BT Americas field sales and marketing division sells telephony and data communications to Global 2000 companies. Connectivity is a commodity that prospects typically think about only when they need more, such as when expanding facilities.

The company wanted to boost awareness with executive level decision-makers, so when a prospect needed to add telecom capacity they would consider BT. If not exclusively, then at least in addition to market leading vendors like AT&T and Verizon.

Using social media as its channel, BT leveraged its strong commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to cultivate relationships with like-minded companies on its prospect list. BT’s CSR Perspective campaign has elevated the company’s standing with top level prospects, while enhancing its overall positioning and brand awareness in the US.

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