5 Reasons why B2B Marketing Fails and How to Counter them
Featuring five deadly sins and five heavenly virtues
B2B content marketing is about telling stories to convince and convert your audience. How effective are your stories? Do you always comply with the heavenly virtues of B2B content marketing to effectively convince your audience? Or does your strong desire to convert tempt you to commit one of the deadly sins? Here we discuss B2B marketing fails originating from 5 deadly marketing sins. But we also present five heavenly marketing virtues to tackle them.
Narcissism versus Empathy
Narcissism is one of the biggest B2B marketing fail. This fail can be described as “the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s idealized self-image and attributes.” Marketers and salespeople are too often tempted to talk about what they perceive as the positive aspects of their company. Think about newly released features, on-boarding of new clients and that great new website. But self-flattery and arrogance can easily backfire when your audience isn’t receptive to your commercial messaging yet.
The challenge is to understand the perspective of the buyer and feel what he or she is experiencing within their frame of reference. So, the heavenly virtue to tackle narcissism is empathy, which is described as the capacity to place oneself in another’s position — in this case, the buyer. To help think, act and communicate from a buyer’s perspective, buyer personas and buyer journeys are great marketing concepts. A buyer persona is a fictionalized characterization of your best customer(s) based on information about them and how they use your product or service. These personas mirror your various market segments and include names to match the type of buyer. A buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider, evaluate then decide to purchase a product or service.
Sloth versus Helpfulness
Sloth is a habitual disinclination to exertion, otherwise known as laziness. In their quest for web traffic, marketers have created a tsunami of content that is often based on the ability to spin their web with the objective to catch visitors, resulting in piles of mediocre content on the same subject. But in content marketing, input equals output and, therefore the this approach fails according to the logic “garbage in equals garbage out.” Investing in poor quality content will result in a poor quality audience, poor quality leads and an inferior perception of your brand, causing more damage than good.
Content marketing authors like Joe Pulizzi and Jay Baer teach us to break through the clutter with a book like Epic Content Marketing and to help potential customers by offering a principle like Youtility that offers “marketing so useful, people would pay for it.” Being helpful has always been a great commercial strategy. Think of concepts like consultative selling and freemium accounts. Implementing B2B content marketing is no different. But being helpful takes an effort, so there’s no time for laziness. Invest in being helpful to your audience in a way that aligns with your business and you will be able to capitalize on the relationship you build.
Greed versus Patience
The objective of marketers is normally driven by the desire to get more customers, sell more services, increase revenue and basically grow your business. Therefore, it sounds logical to focus your time and effort on convincing potential customers to make a purchase. But a greedy focus on the last stage of the buyer journey backfires on marketers as this B2B marketing approach fails to respect the buyer’s journey.
For potential customers ready to buy and already a champion of your brand, a focus on conversion will work. But many potential customers will be in another stage of the buyer journey, and your efforts need to be on helping them to the next stage. In B2B, where decision-making processes can take a while, respecting the buyer journey and mapping the right message at the right moment requires some patience.
To make this work for our moving service example, communication with a potential customer can start with a professional checklist on moving your office, for instance as gated download. When making the project plan your moving service can help with tips and tricks in a series of helpful emails. Followed by an offer to help relocate the office with the professional services you provide.
Pride versus Stewardship
When the joy of your campaigns is derived from how amazing, unique and splashy they are, your pride can mislead you. Pride can result in putting one’s own desires, urges, wants and whims before the welfare of others. Don’t invest in being amazing — invest in what converts a potential buyer into the next stage of the journey.
As a marketer, it’s your responsibility to generate the highest possible return on your invested marketing dollars. When being amazing does not serve a clear KPI, it’s money wasted. Stewardship means to focus on what works best, so don’t be to pride to reuse, optimize and scale what works.
Listlessness versus Engagement
Listlessness equals having little or no interest in anything, which is a pitfall for marketers that market dull products or services. When your own energy is low, you will fail to energize your target audience. It’s good to realize that it’s the marketer’s pitfall, not the market you target. To quote Jonathan Kranz in his 2018 talk at the Content Marketing World Conference and Expo, “there are no boring products — just bored marketers.”
To tackle listlessness, step one is to realize it’s all in your head. A product or service may be boring to you, but it’s not for a potential buyer. When you can answer questions like to whom does this matter and how does our product or service impact their work, life or performance, a seemingly boring product can become a life-changer or career saver. Think of the impact of an oil drill bit arriving two days late on a drilling platform or a failed printer at an attorney’s office the night before an opening statement. Once you recognize the relevance of your product or service you can engage your audience in a compelling way.
Interaction with your audience is no different than interaction in real life. With empathy and helpfulness, you will be more effective in making new friends (that is, buyers) than with laziness and greed. Marketers are just like people, so take a closer look at your communication. Do you focus on virtues and avoid the B2B marketing fails of the five deadly sins?