B-to-g marketers shift focus to 
digital and social channels

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Accenture uses social media to promote content and webinars
Accenture uses social media to promote content and webinars
"I don't know whether it's the debt crisis or the late awakening of the government sector to the digital avenues," says Ostvoll. "I know that even 18 months ago, we had more challenges with getting access to government employees because the Internet would be blocked in a government office or it would be discouraged. I think it's becoming a much more legitimate work channel."

That easing of the blockades has catalyzed the number of federal employees who access their social networks while on the job. 
According to Market Connections, the number jumped from 20% in 2010 to 46% in 2011. More than half (51%) of the federal employees who use Facebook do so for work purposes.

Now when Accenture wants to message to government employees, says Ostvoll, it makes sure to promote the content via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in addition to posting it on Accenture's government-related Web pages, "because you just don't know which one of those channels people are going to be looking at, but you do know in a short amount of time you'll see evidence of the interrelationship between those [channels]." 

Cathy Cromley, business development director at Market Connections, says that social media is table stakes for today's b-to-g marketer. "A lot of people say [b-to-g marketers] need a social media strategy, but really they just need to integrate it as a component of their overall marketing strategy," she says.

Not everyone agrees. Yvonne Zaslow, EVP of furniture company ATD-American Co. says that the company includes social media in its marketing mix, but the channel takes a backseat to its sales staff's customer relationships, print catalogs, email and website. 

Durable goods company Landscape Brands also takes a more traditional approach to 
b-to-g marketing, favoring print catalogs and email over social media and webinars. However, while the company does not have its own Facebook page or Twitter feed, its ground-level approach to digital marketing echoes the strategies employed by Xerox, 
Accenture and ATD-American.

Eric Gilbert, director of manufacturing and new product development at Landscape Brands, says the company encourages its sales staff to employ their own individualized digital marketing programs "as opposed to a full-blown marketing campaign."

"Whether they send an email or get on a social networking site to make that connection [with government employees], that's up to the fluidity of the sales team," says Gilbert.

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