Book Review: Social Marketing to the Business Customer

Book Review: Social Marketing to the Business Customer

I first heard Eric Schwartzman speak about online marketing at a Worldcom meeting many years ago. Eric had a thoughtful grasp on where B2B marketing was headed, so I’ve continued to watch how his thinking evolves.

Now you can have the benefit of his thinking, too.* Eric just co-authored a new book “Social Marketing to the Business Customer,” with Paul Gillin, the former Editor-in-chief of Computerworld. The book is a very good primer for businesses who are looking to understand 1) if social marketing is worthwhile and 2) how to judge if it’s working.

In my experience, it’s often #2 that causes the problems. Paul and Eric have a helpful chapter “Return on Investment” that offers some common sense starting points. The “Putting it all Together” section offers a starting equation to determine ROI:

But I heartily agree with their bigger point: “get your Excel skills in order, because you’re going to have some explaining to do.”  The real secret to ROI problems, in my opinion, is that many marketers lack the will to rigorously capture and measure the benchmark data required for an honest analysis of success. Like most things in life, shortcuts are lazy and may lead to risky conclusions.

My favorite sections of the book included:

  • Planning Social Marketing Campaigns: An attractive chart offers online metrics you can use to track awareness (page views, search performance, referring URLs), engagement (insite search, return visits, pages per visit) and influence (Technorati rankings, embeds, sentiment).
  • The Social Funnel: A detailed look at how social marketing requires a focus on the buying process rather than the sales cycle.  After reminding readers that “success depends on listening to small groups directly,” not just “segmenting large markets,” they share a valuable chart that compares traditional media tools and social media tools for every stage of the buying process. This visual would be a useful way to help clients and prospects understand how marketing services are changing.
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective B2B Social Marketers:  I liked the simple reminders here, from “they won’t get eaten” to “they will be action-oriented” to “they will understand their unique value proposition.” Use it as a litmus test for your own marketing habits.


I enjoyed the book, though it would have been nice to see a few more fresh case studies and possibly a section that explored more advanced tactics for digital PR mavens.

You can also follow the authors on Twitter: @ericschwartzman and @pgillin.

Overall, a great starter for B2B firms who are ready to integrate social media into their marketing mix. What about you? What’s on your social media reading list?

*I did receive a free copy of this book, but I only post reviews for books that I think are worth your time.


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