Kipp Bodnar is an inbound marketing strategist at HubSpot and the author, along with Jeffrey Cohen, of The B2B Social Media Book. Kipp and Jeff will be running a workshop on social media and lead generation as part of the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum in October. (Use the code "SMARTB2B" when registering for the Forum and get $200 off!)

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I invited Kipp to Marketing Smarts to discuss his work at HubSpot but also to find out why so few B2B companies blog, how to develop a social media strategy, and what roadblocks companies encounter when trying to implement their strategy (if they actually have one!).

Here's a sneak peak at some of what we discussed.

Blogging Is Freaking Hard!

Results of a survey published by Penton Marketing Services at the end of 2011 showed that only 33% of B2B companies actually have or maintain a blog. I asked Kipp why he thought that was.

"It's freaking hard," was his initial response, "It's not easy to do. If it was easy, everybody would do it and it wouldn't work."

As hard as it may be to get a blog up and running, however, "blogging is incredibly important," Kipp insisted, adding that B2B companies are "actually in a really good position to blog because most B2B companies traditionally have been pretty content-minded."

So what do companies need in order to blog effectively?

On the one hand, Kipp says, "You have to have the right people on your marketing team; you have to have somebody who is good at creating content."

On the other hand, and this is the tricky part, you have to give something up. 

Blogging requires resources, he emphasized. So Kipp recommends digging into the data, identifying tactics that are underperforming, and replacing them with blogging for a while to see whether it can actually be a more effective tactic for the business.

Two Keys to Developing a Social Media Strategy

When developing a social media strategy, Kipp says, companies need to do two things:

  • First, they need to avoid making assumptions about what will work and what won't. Instead of assuming that "if they do this, X will happen," companies need to let "the raw actions and data of their community speak to the tactics and strategy they should be using."
  • Second, they need to have a clear goal, meaning they need to "understand specifically how to impact their business with social media."

One area where Kipp and his co-author Jeff Cohen believe that social media can have real business impact is lead generation. Unfortunately, Kipp says, too many companies instead choose meaningless goals ("We want more people to like us") or, worse, no explicit goal at all.

Content Resources and Publishing Mindset

When companies are attempting to implement strategy, the biggest issues they run into involve content quantity and quality. According to Kipp, the key questions companies have to ask are these: "Am I creating content at a consistent frequency that works for my business and is the content that I'm publishing…interesting to my audience? Are people actually finding it? Are people actually reading it?"

Aside from having the right resources on staff to create good content at an appropriate pace, Kipp says companies also need to have the right mindset—specifically, "Every B2B marketer who's going to be really great at social and really great at inbound is going to think like they run an educational publishing company."

Such marketers tell themselves, according to Kipp, "I want to educate, entertain, and inform my target audience, and in doing so I'm going to be able to convert a portion of those people into customers." 

More than that, they actually rethink the competitive landscape.

"The best B2B marketers today aren't concerned with their traditional competitors, the people they're selling against," Kipp says. "I think that they're more concerned with the companies that are shaping how their prospects think, behave, and act."

If you'd like to hear my entire conversation with Kipp, you can listen above or download the mp3 and listen at your leisure. You can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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