Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Integrating Social Media into the B2B Marketing Mix: One Success Story

Kristy Mellinger
Hometown Provisions
by Kristy Mellinger, Marketing Director, Hometown Provisions

If you're uncertain whether B2B's should be engaged in social media marketing on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In, this is the story of how I successfully integrated social media into Hometown Provisions' B2B marketing mix.

As a bit of background, Hometown Provisions is a family-owned wholesale foodservice distributor that sells to restaurants, supermarkets, pizza shops, farmers’ markets, educational facilities and more, in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.

Hometown Provisions
Headquartered in Lancaster, PA
In November of 2009, I was lucky enough to enter the business as the first Marketing Director, so I was able to create the company’s marketing strategy and plan and guide it as it developed.

I chose to redesign our website as my first task, because I did not think the information that our previous website had on it represented our company accurately. I wanted our staff to confidently direct customers to our website for useful information. My goal in the website redesign was to make sure that there was enough information on our site to meet our current and prospective customer’s needs as well as potential future employees, and ultimately, to increase company awareness and revenue and create lead generation.

In order to accomplish my website goals, I integrated social media into our site, by putting direct links on our website and having a blog within our site. I wanted open and honest communication so that customers were as informed as they wanted to be, so that their expectations were met. and that no information was ever misleading. Social media allows for this two-way communication with our customers while increasing our Internet presence.

Here are the steps that I took to incorporate social media into our marketing mix.

Screenshot of new website
1.  I chose to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a Hometown blog (What's New) on our website. Facebook because of its user friendly interface for posting company information, pics and articles. Twitter won a spot, mostly because of the additional exposure that it gives our business and my web designer recommended I use it (which now I am grateful that I did). LinkedIn was chosen because of the professional exposure it gives us, being able to use it for job openings and to possibly draw future employees to our company. Lastly, I started a blog on our site that allows me to post monthly specials, weekly recipes and important delivery or closure announcements.

2. Being a B2B business I was not sure exactly how social media would benefit our customers, but I still decided to incorporate it into our website and figure it out as I learned more about what our customer’s needs were.

3. After the website was launched I began to figure out a schedule for Hometown’s blog, Facebook and Twitter pages. What truly helped me was to study the food industry and to find articles and other blogs that would assist me with my posts. I joined a few industry relevant groups on LinkedIn. I also signed up for email lists on food related blogs. From all of this information I sift through and decide what information would be relevant to our customers.

4. What I like about social media is the amount of open communication that happens. I have found it helpful to “follow” or “like” customers on Twitter and Facebook and to support them by promoting different deals that they have going on. It is also nice to learn more about our customers based on what they post!

5. Most recently I incorporated email blasts, through Mail Chimp. This service allows customers to sign up for a weekly email newsletter, that sums up the week and gives a sneak peak into future specials that will be on sale the following week. Readers can sign up for the newsletter list either through our website or Facebook.

6. I have been able to track the success of our social media through Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Mail Chimp’s reports, and lead generation. I have seen an increase in the number of visits to our website over the past year and I am able to pin point which blog posts draws more people to the website. All the parts of our social media are very much connected. Apart from the internet reports some of the best news for me as Marketing Director is to hear a new customer found out about us on the Internet, which is all information that we keep track of.

All in all, social media has been a success for our B2B marketing mix at Hometown Provisions. I have found that social media provides opportunities to not only inform, but also to engage and build a community of support for our brand and product. One trick that I have used throughout this whole process is to stay focused on Hometown’s marketing goals, who our target audience is and making sure that we stay true to our mission statement. (Before making marketing decisions, I like to look at all three of these statements):

Mission Statement
Our mission is to provide personalized service and quality products that meet or exceed our customers' needs and expectations.

We strive to develop lasting, family-like relationships with all of our customers, employees and vendors, and to treat them in a fair, honest and caring way.

Vision Statement
Our Vision is: #1. Be a great wholesale food distributor for our customers and vendors. #2. Be a great place to work. #3. Have the financial strength to accomplish #1 and #2.

Kristy is a graduate of Babson College, where she earned a BA in Business Administration/Marketing. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or studying analytics related to the Hometown Provisions website, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and doing anything active!


  1. DO you have any numbers. Leads from site before and after or something else related to sales.

  2. We have had around 15 leads come from the website after it was redesigned, and so far three of them have turned into regularly buying customers. We have also had a number of inquiries from our current customers about products that they did not realize we carried. Definitely within the year the sales from these customers have paid for the website.



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