The B2B Social Spotlight: Dennis Salazar

Lenora and Dennis Salazar

Nuts to peanuts.

No, not the kind you eat, rather the messy, clingy polystyrene foam bits that may have come along with that eBay item you just won.

What do you do with them? How do you get rid of them?  And what happens to them when you do?

Dennis Salazar and his wife, Lenora, decided they needed to help reduce not just that problem but to change the attitudes and practices around environmentally sustainable packaging when they started Salazar Packaging, Inc. in 2007.

Just six years later, after the two left lucrative jobs with a much larger packaging distribution companies, Salazar Packaging is a certified green business; it’s products vetted by numerous organizations; and is a leading voice in packaging, environmental and business circles. More than 800 articles have been written by them and about them.

Apart from a laser focus on his niche and endless knowledge about his industry, Salazar’s dedicated blogging has helped drive the company’s growing national brand awareness from the its home in Plainfield, Illinois.

When it comes to marketing Salazar Packaging, what did you intentionally set out to do differently and how did social media/marketing fit in?

We recognized that interest from business in general about more sustainable packaging practices was very high. A friend, who was also in the industry, knew the direction we were heading with the company and suggested that we write about what we already knew about and recommended that we educate our market, develop a voice, and even be a bit controversial.

So, my first post was called, “Am I Retrainable for Sustainable?”, a tongue-in- cheek piece about how sustainability was all about waste reduction, and all of the things that I had been doing for decades anyway. I sent it on to one of my favorite blogs, Sustainable is Good, and was later picked up by five other blogs and eventually wound up on Reuters. From there, inquires for speaking rolled in, and invite to write for Packaging Digest not to mention many inquiries about business. Six years ago, a lot less people were talking about sustainability, but I guess I was leading the pack and got ahead of the curve in the industry.

Social begins with developing relationships and supplying valuable content, but it must produce a business outcome. What is Salazar doing to connect with prospects and customers? 

We looked at the way our customers want to do business. One of the strategies we use is to cater to a diverse customer base through our store and various websites. We collected and packaged our products to low volume users in a way to market them and sell them in an efficient manner. You don’t want to spend 10 minutes on the phone with somebody who wants to buy a case of tape or 100 boxes. The exposure to small and medium sized companies is helping us attract and serve much larger customers, which is where we’re headed next.

How have your social media activities influenced the firm and its bottom line?

The more I was blogging the more I was speaking. The more I was doing, the more inquiries we were getting, and it really turned out to be a major part of our marketing. Because of all this activity, the search engines love us. We were all over Page 1, and Page 2 on Google for almost any “green” term searched for. Some of it I refer to as “dumb luck” and some of it is timing, but it’s been a lot of hard work.  Hours and hours have been spent on my blogs. I think I have over 400 posts just on one of them.

What do you regularly measure to see what is working with your marketing?

I think a lot of it was a matter of being at the right place at the right time.  Some of things people are talking about, optimizing key words and things like that, we’ve learned and we did along the way, but I can’t say that we ever sat down and formally created this grandiose strategy for ranking them on Page 1 under particular terms. We do run analytics, but we also mostly monitor our feedback, our call-ins and our inquiries.

What aspect of social hasn’t worked for Salazar Packaging?

We are not great believers in social media. Our strategy is to be found on the web. We were active on Facebook and Twitter, but as a business-to-business company, we felt those platforms were attracting consumers who are not our customers. As for LinkedIn, I think we haven’t taken advantage of it the way could or should. I don’t doubt there is a strategic use for it, but we haven’t found it and frankly, we haven’t had the need.

What blog posts in particular have stood out?

We monitor feedback and when you have a good one, you know it. A post from late January, Custom Printed and Branded Packaging FAQ and Tips, has been a monster hit for us. We’re just getting all kinds a neat emails, comments, and inquiries.

What is one thing your social followers don’t know about you?

I really have a passion for old-time television shows like The Honeymooners. I like revisiting some of that stuff because of the quality of entertainment without profanity, the nastiness, and the meanness. It was just good, clean entertainment.

What three blogs would you recommend? 

Marc Gunther

Environmental Leader

GreenBiz

How can people connect with you? 

Salazar packaging.com

info@salazarpackaging.com

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Do you know of other B2B marketers who are effectively integrating and using social media to fuel their businesses? I want to talk to them.  Send me a note at bob@rurelevant.com or via Twitter @RAReed.