Know is a beautiful word. People ask, “You know what?” They text IYKYK (meaning if you know, you know). Know can also be a derivative of knowledge.

Know is a two-way street when it comes to marketing. You want people to know about you and your business. You may also want to know who knows about you and your business.

Knowing who knows what is almost like the old Abbott and Costello bit, “Who’s on first.” Or, what came first, the chicken or the egg?

So, let’s define those two kinds of knowledge as outbound and inbound knowledge.

The Inbound Know

Business requires customers. The best way to get customers is through advertising. At least, that is the common philosophy.

In the business-to-business world and the relational marketing realm, it’s about who knows about you and who knows them.

It’s kind of like a game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” which is a concept that demonstrates the interconnectedness of people in the entertainment industry based on their associations with famous actor Kevin Bacon. It stems from the “six degrees of separation” concept – the idea that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart.

For example, Jennifer Lawrence was in X-Men: First Class with Kevin Bacon, so she has a Bacon number of 1. Samuel L. Jackson was in XX with XX, who was in XX with Kevin Bacon, giving Jackson a Bacon number of 3.

What matters to you and your business should be those level ones and twos. You know somebody, and that somebody is connected with people. What matters is which of those people could be prospective customers.

That is what we often call a referral.

The biggest difference between consumer and B2B tactics is that consumers want to attract many level-one connections that could become customers. In the B2b world, you want fewer people but one with better connections to prospects.

So, someone who could be seen as a competitor could be a referral source when the prospect may not be a good fit for them but could be a perfect fit for you.

It only makes sense that this has to be a two-way street to be effective. You can be a competitor and a power partner who reciprocates with referrals and rewards.

If you offer each other referrals, that is the best win-win scenario. If you don’t or can’t, you can share rewards like a gift, a finders fee, and sometimes even the project profits.

The Outbound Know

Just because someone becomes aware of your business or gets to know you exist does not guarantee that they will remember you a week, month, or year from now.

That means that you have to remind them that you are there and that you are still relevant.

This is what I call the outbound know. It’s where your current, past, and prospective customers are reminded that you are still out there. It also should include your vendors, power partners, and other potential referral sources.

Basic logic says that just because someone knows you exist does not mean it stops there. You have to remind them why they paid attention in the first place.

Again, consumer tactics turn to advertising to keep reminding them. But in B2b marketing, you can create smaller, more cost-effective closed-loop systems.

This is where email marketing and social media come into play. You can find a way to connect with them or get them to connect with you so if and when you have something to say, they are a chance that they will see it and be reminded of what interested them in you and your business in the first place.

Creating Awareness

As I mentioned, there are three kinds of marketing: awareness, education, and sales. Awareness is about being top of mind. With awareness marketing, your goal isn’t to inform, educate, or convince. It’s about raising your hand and saying, “HEY… we’re still here!”

With that being said, there are many ways to create awareness. It can be done personally or as a business, and it can be done as a member of a community or advocacy group.

The point is to keep it short and to the point. It can come in the form of an image, text, or as simple as a hashtag.

I post images as myself. It could be golfing, at a local business meeting, or anything that makes us human.

As a business, I post motivational quotes or even topics from my training and presentations called ‘Baconisms’ in the form of quotes.

Although they may have a link for more info, they rarely have a call to action. It’s meant to be simple, consumable, and appeal to the average goldfish's attention span of eight seconds or less.

Connecting The Dots

Creating awareness requires two things: having something to say and having someone to say that to. To get those people to pay attention to your message, your message has to be relevant.

Not every message will be relevant to everyone, so you have to have multiple messages that will resonate with your multiple audiences. Hence why I recommend having a mix of business and personal awareness posts.

Posts about golf will be relatable to a limited audience. Motivational quotes will have a connection with another group. They may be the exact right post at the right time for some and just noise for others on another day. It’s somewhat random, yet it’s a culmination of relevance to your entire audience.

To reach that audience, you have to be hanging out where they are and be willing to be present and active on a regular basis.

That means creating connections. A connection could be in the form of a LinkedIn connection request or friend request on Facebook, Instagram, or whatever platform your audience is active. It could be on any or all of them at the same time.

People may see a post on both Facebook and LinkedIn. They may become aware of that post on Facebook but only engage with it on LinkedIn after they have seen it for the second time.

The obligation is on you to connect with those who you know have come to know you. That does not mean that everyone you try to connect with will reciprocate, but it’s up to you to try.

Another way of connecting is via email and/or text. You can add them to your list, but make it clear that you added them and allow them to remove that connection if they don’t want it.

Awareness does not include annoying people into submission.

The best way to add people is to entice them to subscribe themselves or get them to connect with you via social media first.

As I said before, this is a two-way street. They can send you messages, post things that may or may not be relevant, and maybe try to annoy you into submission. So, you have to have some patience with your connections if you expect them to want to stay connected with you.

Capturing The Data

The final thing I think you should be aware of with awareness is that your audience will change and evolve over time. It is in your best interest to focus on who is relevant today and prune that list as your business and messages evolve.

In B2b marketing, I call the group you are trying to reach your tribe. We will discuss this in a later chapter, but one point you need to know upfront is that tribes contain around 150 people.

When you post to social media, it does not matter if you have 100, 1000, or 10,000 connections; algorithms limit who sees your content. I have found that only about 150 people see most of your posts. That affects the number of connections you need to maintain.

I have found the optimum number of emails, connections, or whatever metric you choose to be around 1500 people. Then, you can narrow down your VIPs to around your top 150 people.

This is where having a strategy to capture those people in a CRM, email system, and more intersect. We will cover this in more detail in the future.


Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about business-to-business sales and marketing today! Do you have a sales or marketing communications strategy that works for you? What tips or techniques can you share that work for you and your business?

To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.

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