The story of Apollo 13 astronauts trying desperately to get back to Earth after a failed mission has a lesson for B2B marketers.
Astronauts used the moon’s gravitational pull to slingshot them so they had enough power left to get back to Earth.
B2B marketers: Facebook is your moon.
But while Facebook may not be your final destination for marketing to B2B customers, it has incredible gravitational pull. Savvy marketers, like the astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 mission, can leverage that pull to take them where they want to go.
Here’s how one scrappy new B2B services company is doing just that.
The three-stage approach
Y Scouts, a small executive search firm that started in 2012 in the Phoenix area, needs to foster brand recall in a crowded field in an industry that frankly isn’t very sexy.
They’re meeting that challenge with a three-stage approach: 1) getting out of their seats, 2) leveraging with Facebook and 3) building relationships.
“Less than a third of people who get up in the morning and go to work are enjoying their work and putting their heart, body and soul into it,” said Brian Mohr, co-founder and vice president of Y Scouts, citing a Gallup employee engagement survey. The survey showed that only 29% of American workers are engaged in and enthusiastic about their work.
Y Scouts believes in a purpose-based approach that matches the values and beliefs of companies and potential employees, rather than focusing on keyword commonality between résumés and job descriptions.
“We believe that is the only way to recruit,” said Mohr. “Engagement comes from believing in what you do.”
The challenge: spread their purpose-based message and foster brand recall amidst hundreds of other local staffing companies.
Stage 1: Getting Out of Their Seats
In September 2012, four months after launching their website, Y Scouts launched the “What’s Your Why” tour, conceived by co-founder and marketing advisor Brett Farmiloe.
“My idea was to ask people, What’s your ‘Why’?—Why do you work at the job that you do? and to have them write that statement down on a piece of paper, and we’ll come in and photograph them and have some very powerful imagery around the reasons why people work,” said Farmiloe.
Over the next four months, Y Scouts visited over 40 companies in the greater Phoenix area and took photos of employees holding up their Why statements.
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Farmiloe started by approaching a few local purpose-driven businesses they knew of, such as Infusionsoft. At each stop on the tour, they asked for referrals to other companies to approach. Y Scouts also collaborated with organizations such as Local First Arizona for other referrals.
In addition, they invited companies they met as potential clients to be a tour stop as a way to further their relationship.
By the end of December 2012, over 40 companies had participated in the tour. “Best of all, we have about 300 pictures of local ‘models’ (the employees at tour stops) who visually display the Y Scouts value proposition,” said Farmiloe.
The tour was the first stage that got them out of their seats and in front of their target audience; the next stage was to harness Facebook’s gravitational pull.
Stage 2: Leveraging With Facebook
After each tour stop, Farmiloe posted the photos to the Y Scouts website and social media accounts, most notably to Facebook.
Posting to Facebook was a no-brainer for Farmiloe. “Facebook is such a visual platform, and it’s the biggest photo-sharing site in the world,” he said.
The company went from zero fans to a high of 650 over the course of the four-month tour, becoming the second-highest driver of website traffic after Google. But the biggest benefit was leveraging the personal networks of people and companies who were tagged.
“When you tag someone on Facebook with a photo, the reach you get from that tag is so much greater … from people who are willing to tag and share in their personal streams,” Farmiloe said.
“When you can connect with someone in a very personal way about what’s important to them, and you give the ability to share it with their friends and family, it really helps to spread this message,” said Mohr.
The next stage: keeping the momentum going outside of Facebook.
Stage 3: Building Relationships
“We’re not expecting to start a Facebook Page and take a bunch of photographs of employees and the next day or the next week get those people to work with us,” said Farmiloe.
In their industry, marketing is all about the long-term view and building relationships. To do that, Y Scouts focuses on LinkedIn, email marketing and speaking opportunities.
“LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool,” said Mohr. While it is behind Facebook in driving website traffic, visitors from LinkedIn spend considerably more time on the site.
Y Scouts invested in the LinkedIn Recruiter premium account and made sure their company page looks professional. Y Scouts employees join groups and keep tabs on what executives and leaders are talking about. “It’s as much about opening your ears and paying attention to what’s happening as being a contributor,” Mohr said.
Another way they develop relationships is by using email. “Going forward, we will put a lot of focus on email marketing and tools that let our talent community interact with each other, rather than putting all the emphasis on us,” Farmiloe said.
Members who submit their résumés using the Talent Portal will be able request help from other members in addition to receiving news and updates from Y Scouts.
Y Scouts also looks for speaking opportunities. Mohr recently gave a keynote address to Generation Next at the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation.
Although the “What’s Your Why?” tour officially ended in December 2012, Y Scouts will continue to collect photos from companies they work with and use the three-stage process to take them where they want to go.
Have you used Facebook to leverage your reach to potential B2B customers? How can you use Y Scouts’ tactics to fit your business? Post your comments and questions in the space below.