Dec 7, 2009


By Jeffrey L. Cohen
Wed, Dec 2, 2009

Everyone knows about the 80-20 rule. No matter how you analyze your B2B company, it always comes back to within a few percentage points of 80-20. 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. While this one is usually okay if those 20% are stable customers, it’s the other common one that is troublesome. 80% of your resources seem to be spent on the customers responsible for only 20% of your revenue. This is the one that can’t possibly be true. It feels anecdotal. It’s just staff complaining about all the handholding required by the small customers. The reality is that larger customers are more efficient and your staff really does spend an inordinate amount of time with those responsible for only 20%.
Now let’s look at how the 80-20 rule applies to social media. Since social media is still so new in many B2B organizations, managers have not been running the numbers in a strict fashion to determine the value and ROI of the programs and campaigns. People still focus on the wrong numbers. How many followers, fans, retweets did you get? Sure this is a measurement of reach of the message, but if it is not aimed at a targeted audience, it is of little value. So many traditional marketers and seasoned PR folks throw their training and their instincts out the window for social media. They suffer from bright, shiny object syndrome. Many approaches are just not focused properly.
This is not the way social media will succeed and survive in B2B companies. Social media must be held to the same standards as other communication initiatives. If you can’t figure out how to engage with your target audience on social media, don’t do it. Be authentic. Be transparent. But your goal still needs to drive your target audience to a call to action. What do you need them to do that translates into sales?
What happened to 80-20? Well, it turns out that the social media audience that you are fitfully chasing is part of the 20% of your business. Why don’t you focus your social media efforts on the customers responsible for 80% of your revenue? Remember these are the customers that don’t require handholding. They currently don’t require excessive resources. Stop chasing the little guys and work with the big customers. They are already efficient. Use social media to make them more efficient. That would increase sales.
Sit down and spend some time to find their pain points. They probably relate to things like product information and shipping information. Set up private wikis or forums to post that internal information just for their eyes. Establish closed social networks for interaction with product managers. Set up video chats or webinars. Anything you have seen on the social web can be password protected and kept private. Treat these customers like they are responsible for 80% of your revenue and give them the tools they need to run their business. Oh yeah, they are responsible for 80% of your revenue.
What are some other ways you can leverage your business information in social ways to help your best customers?