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B2B Marketing Interview with Neal Schaffer
B2B Marketing Q&A: Neal Schaffer on Influencer Marketing, Chatbots and More

In B2B Marketing: Tomorrow’s Best Practices Today, we feature expert interviews about the state of B2B Marketing and what the future holds. In this post, I interview Neal Schaffer, CEO, Principal Social Media Strategy Consultant and Social Media Author.

Tell us about yourself?

The way that I like to describe myself is that I am a leading authority on helping businesses through digital transformation. I help businesses, both large and small, through consulting, training and executing on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing and social selling initiatives.

I’m the president of a digital agency called PDCA Social. I also teach digital media to executives at Rutgers University in New Jersey, the Irish Management Institute in Ireland and the University of Alaska in Finland.

I am fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. I’m a popular keynote speaker and have been invited to speak about digital on four continents and a dozen countries.

Book cover: "Maximize Your Social" by Neal Schaffer

I’m the author of three books, including Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success and this year I’ll be publishing my fourth book called “The Business of Influence,” which will educate the market on why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing.

I reside in in in Irvine, California with my beautiful family. I also frequently travel to Japan.

What’s a best practice that B2B marketers should move on from?

We need to have a “less is more” approach to our B2B content marketing. At the end of the day, B2B companies need content, right? We need content to help our our buyers along the buyer journey. And the content takes different forms.

When I’m talking about content here, I’m talking about any content that you want exposed to search engines, which helps your marketing by generating leads and which you can use for sales enablement.

With search engines and SEO, it’s an absolute battlefield. The more content you publish, the more diluted each piece of content becomes in the eyes of Google in terms of its importance. I’d rather you publish more strategically. Publish less and make truly epic posts and make sure they get properly indexed and appear higher in search engine rankings than just trying to copy all of your competitors.

Unless you have authority, publishing a lot of that content is not going to get you high search engine rankings. It’s better to build authority early on more strategic or niche sets of keywords, and work your way up from there, than just try to blast search engines with lots of content.

That’s what I tell my clients to do. I don’t believe more is better, unless you have authority in Google’s eyes. To get authority, you really want to make sure that each piece of content is far better than any competitive content on that keyword.

Tell us a best-practice-of-tomorrow that B2B marketers should be doing today?

The day of chatbots is here. I’m not talking about Facebook Messenger bots. I’m talking about bots on your website and leveraging them to automate how you help clients or prospective clients through the buyer’s journey.

A chatbot on Neal Schaffer's website

Image: A chatbot I found while visiting Neal’s website.

The technology is there. It’s just a matter of marketers using their imagination, programming them and having the content necessary to help guide potential prospects. Not everybody is going to engage with your bot, but people are getting used to engaging with them as they appear more and more sites.

The other one that I would throw out there is influencers. I’m not talking about the YouTubers who your kids are watching playing Fortnite. I’m not talking about Instagram influencers that are selling Chanel one day and Coach the next day.

I’m talking about people that have centers of influence in your industry. They exist in every industry. Perhaps it’s a tech blogger, an ecosystem partner or one of your employees. They’re well-known in your industry, they’re speaking to your customers, they’re writing the blog posts that are attracting your customers.

Influence exists in every industry. It is obviously different in B2B, but the concept is the same. You can leverage influencers for content, but it’s really about collaboration. It’s a collaboration among a lot of different things, but the no-brainers for B2B are content and events.

How will B2B marketing be different in 2020?

You know those annual blog posts of how marketing is going to be different this year? I don’t think these things change as frequently as those posts suggest. It’s all an evolution of technology.

Clearly, we are continuing to see the shift away from traditional marketing to digital marketing, and that evolution will continue as more and more people engage with our B2B brands digitally.

At the same time, I believe that the importance of the offline, specifically offline events, will be enhanced by digital. Offline will help B2B brands differentiate and make any emotional attachment between brands, their customers and their prospective customers. And I would add to that making emotional attachment through your content will be big going forward.

Note: Read our related post, “What B2B Marketers Need to Do When They Attend An Event.”

Because how do you differentiate yourself when content becomes a commodity? Becoming more emotional in everything that your company does online is going to help build that connection that every company really needs to be differentiated and to have their content consumed by more people, more deeply.

A new graduate takes her first job in B2B marketing. What’s the first thing she should do?

Go out to meet clients with your salespeople. Or if you’re completely inside sales, let your marketers listen in on salespeople’s calls. That’s the most critical thing you need to understand what makes the end customer tick.

You need to understand how your salespeople are positioning your company, your brand, your products. If you have an annual customer event or if you have a conference, let the new hire shadow your salespeople.

By the way, my background before marketing is B2B sales. So I’m a big fan of sales and marketing alignment. It’s great to have marketers understand what sales is doing and vice versa.

What’s one B2C marketing tactic that B2B marketers should steal?

Influencer marketing.

Describe B2B marketing in three words or less?

Attract business customers.


Read more interviews

Listening to customers, the human element in Marketing and more with: Todd Wilms.

The sales funnel, customer journey mapping and more with: Christine Crandell.

Content marketing, removing marketing automation and more with: Joe Pulizzi.

Related Posts
B2B Marketing Q&A: Joe Pulizzi on Content Differentiation, Removing Marketing Automation and More ( 11 Feb 2019 )
B2B Marketing Q&A: Christine Crandell on the Sales Funnel, Customer Journey Mapping and More ( 19 Feb 2019 )
B2B Marketing Q&A: Neal Schaffer on Influencer Marketing, Chatbots and More ( 25 Feb 2019 )
B2B Marketing Q&A: Todd Wilms on Listening to Customers, the Human Element in Marketing and More ( 11 Mar 2019 )
Artificial Intelligence for Everyday B2B Marketers ( 26 Mar 2019 )
Written by Dennis Shiao
Dennis Shiao
Dennis is an independent marketing consultant who works with brands on content marketing, product marketing and social media marketing. Dennis curates an email newsletter called Content Corner and publishes marketing-related content on Medium. You can find Dennis on Twitter, @dshiao.

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