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This is the fourth and last installment of my initial reflection on Social Buyerology. The first article, Social Buyerology: Understanding Buyers in the Social Age reflected on the need for a new science of examining buyers in the social age. The second, The Research Methods of Social Buyerology, reviewed the types of research methods needed to attain a deep understanding of the new social buyer persona. In the third installment, Social Buyerology: Listening to the Social Buyer, we looked at how Social Buyerology can be designed to listen to revealing insights about the social buyer. In this fourth article, we examine how to turn insights about the social buyer persona into social influence.
A starting point I believe is to take a hard look at what I believe is a fundamental change on the part of social buyers related to the old adage of turning insight into action. In the social age, influence or perhaps more correctly, social influence, has become the centrality of the social buyer’s mindset towards taking steps leading to a buying decision. This, in fact, is creating a tension point between marketers and buyers today. For years and yet still there has been an almost unstoppable inertia on the part of marketing and sales efforts towards affecting an immediate “action” on the part of buyers. For many in the world of B2B Marketing, for example, it is hard to resist the impulse to plan for very action-oriented campaigns. These efforts usually accompanied by PowerPoint presentation ad infinitum extolling how much “action” is going to take place as a result of the latest campaign. Social Buyerology requires a new way of thinking as well as adapting to turning insights into social influence. These insights indicating how to mitigate the tension point created when social buyers are asked to take “action” without experiencing influence.
There are three guideposts for turning insights into social influence gathered through the previously outlined research methods as well as listening principles of Social Buyerology:
In an action-oriented mindset, the design of marketing and sales plans is usually directed towards attempts to create a scenario for the buyer to act upon. Social influence dynamism require us to look at the opposite of duplicating messages across multiple channels. Insights can reveal how social buyers are accustomed to social interaction by various channels. Savvy marketers today will be asked to look at how to optimize each channel uniquely. In essence, marketers will need to learn new skills and perspectives to interact with social buyer personas in ways unique to each social channel and social interaction scenario. The advent of the social age is in effect closing the coffin lid on the one size fits all marketing tactics of yesteryear.
Marketing and sales plans have a tendency to be concrete and finite plans. Either they worked or didn’t work. And, when they didn’t work they are shelved. Those they did work sometimes run its course and then are neglected to move onto the next “big” thing. An organization, without knowing it (except by the smart frontline people who oftentimes not listened to), can find itself in a high-stakes game of rolling the dice repeatedly. The dice in this case being the newest, latest, and grand marketing or sales campaign. The social organization of today must look at how each component of its marketing and sales planning allows for organic growth and plants seeds of growth in each other’s landscape. This is where insights become critical to interpretation and understanding how to create integrated efforts that feeds such things as web traffic, leads generated, social branding, viral public relations, and etc. These integrated efforts then spreading the seeds of social influence in many places. This is very much opposed to the conventional islands of plans that are created by various departments who truly act as if there is a deep blue ocean between them.
We are rapidly moving towards a highly socially connected society. The societal changes in connectivity are bleeding into the business community more prominently than ever before. Insights gathered via the research methods of Social Buyerology must go through an interpretative process of understanding how to help foster connections between peers, organizations, communities, and other circles of social influences. In the coming years, this capability may become the center most skill and talent level an organization possesses. The ability to create social connectedness will far eclipse marketing and sales abilities as we know it today as a barometer of success and survival.
In this series, I have attempted to lay out the concept of understanding buyers in the social age through Social Buyerology. Given the ongoing rise of the millennial generation into the work force over time, both business organizations and business academia will need to adapt to the meaning as well as transformational changes brought on by the social age. Many of today’s graduates are leaving their universities ill-equipped for the work world they will ultimately find. These graduates are more socially adaptive than the very professors who taught them. In the end, what this incoming generation finds will be a factor of survival for an organization in the long term. The question coming down to: will they find a social organization adapting to the world that surrounds them or will they find an organization continuing to practice archaic business, marketing, and sales operations out of touch with social buyers?