Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Basho Builds B2B Community

In response to my post last week on BobKent.net, one of my students sent me a link to the Basho Technologies site—thanks, Noah! This sales training firm is actively working to create a community of “sales leaders” in a way that few other B2B firms are. Besides, I love the Sumo imagery!

They have a number of interactive channels, all of which are under the umbrella of the Basho Community. Their blog, newsletter and library are not unusual for a B2B firm. Podcasting is catching on—slowly—which is too bad because it seems such a natural in B2B markets. Theirs are well organized; for one thing when you go to the podcast page, you can easily make the choice to listen to the MP3 file on your computer or to download it to an iPod or other MP3 device. Making that clear is good for the non-iPod person or the novice user.
The most interesting channel is their LinkedIn group. When I looked, it had 2,927 members. I didn’t join, so I don’t know exactly how they network there, but it’s an impressive accomplishment in terms of size. The other thing that surprised me, considering the popularity of LinkedIn among professionals and the degree to which it is being used for job search and recruiting, is how few Corporate Groups there are. When you look at the corporate groups, most of them are corporate alumni groups. That’s a great way of staying in touch and meeting colleagues, but the paucity of real corporate groups suggests that a lot of B2B firms are missing a good (free!) bet.

They seem to be following the guidelines Jim Leach set down in a thoughtful iMediaConnection article a few days ago. Particularly note that he stresses the need for new metrics to measure the effectiveness of community building in both B2C and B2B markets.

I’m happy to see a firm that is building community around its brand in a strategic way. That seems such a natural in B2B where people have genuine involvement with the products and services they use and like to interact with colleagues who share their interests and often their problems. It is a channel marketers can use to get out their messages. More important, it is a channel in which they can listen to the issues that are important to their customers!
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