When I started my career as an account executive, I found out very quickly that customers and prospects rolled their eyes the moment I started talking about my company and our services.
I would ask them if they’d like to hear about our new product release…crickets.
I would ask if I could bring my sales manager in for a meeting with my main contact’s boss…crickets.
I would ask if they had any budget they needed to spend…”nice try!”
But when I asked about them, when I asked about their business challenges, fears or aspirations, they lit up like a Christmas tree. And that is how (through lots of trial and error in business and in dating) I found out that I needed to stop talking about myself and ask that most important question: “how are you doing?”
I often talk here about the need for better alignment between marketing and sales. In fact, it is often cited as the biggest challenge for B2B marketers. It is because of this that I like to reach out to some of my friends in B2B Sales AND Marketing to provide their perspective.
Recently we ran a guest post from Kenny Madden on how the line between Marketing and Sales is starting to blur and we are looking at a new partnership he called “SMarketing.”
Additionally, my colleague in Inside Sales, Robert Krekstein contributed this post recently on Lead Nurturing.
You have seen my posts on Marketing Mistakes. Well here is another post from Rob on the 8 Most Common Mistakes Sales Makes…
Today officially marks the half way point in the year. Which means your 2011 marketing plan has just a few more chances to be analyzed, reviewed and refined in order to help you meet your objectives for the year.
As you look at your results, how are you doing? Are you on track to meet your plan? Or do you see wasted effort, tactical thinking and a reactionary culture.
One of the biggest reasons I see B2B marketing plans veer off course starts right at the beginning. The problem lies in how we distribute budgets.
Or to put it more plainly: money is the root of all marketing plan evil.
Well I think I’ve got the cure right here…it’s called a business case: If you want money, create a business case. If you want to hire people, create a business case.
Ask sales people what they think is wrong with marketing and they will say the biggest mistake marketers make is too much of a focus on marketing activities instead of results.
I have explained already that I think the biggest B2B marketing mistake is putting your company and not your customers first. And focusing on internal activities and fighting the latest internal fires instead of solving customer problems is the other side of the same coin.
In the old days of traditional marketing, you conducted some research, consulted with your colleagues and agency partners and in the end, decisions were often made on gut feeling. I mean there were what 3 TV stations, a local newspaper or 2 and some trade pubs. How hard could it be?
The promise of digital marketing was going to change all that. Because it brings a ton of metrics we can use to make better media buying decisions, right? We can test offers and creative and then optimize our campaigns as we go. I mean that’s how it works in your organization, right?
If you don’t do that, you risk making a couple of ego-driven B2B marketing mistakes that can mean life or death to your campaigns…
Don’t Label Your Audience
When I see marketing content that adds an unnecessary or inappropriate qualifier to try and get a specific segment of people to read, register, or interact with the piece of content.
For example, if I say this blog is only for B2B marketers, will that focus the target audience of the blog? Will I get more B2B marketers to read? Chances are that it’s the topic, not my qualifier, that draws readers in. And B2B marketing is my topic, not necessarily my audience. Many of you are coming from across a wide range of industries, company types and roles. Our communities and ecosystems are much too diverse to label.
One way to test this is to perform A/B tests using email subject lines, blog posts, banner creative or offers on your website. I have done all of these. Each time, the winner has been the more generic title (all else being equal).
And yet when I try to explain this to people they look at me like I’m crazy! This is a result of the kind of “inside-out” thinking I talked about in my post “The Biggest Mistake Marketers Make.” We lose every time we marketers make it all about us or our solution or our product or our organization and not about the customer.
Want an example? Let’s say I conduct research of my audience that concludes that B2B marketers and communications professionals are really interested in “social media” or “sales and marketing alignment.” Then I write a really great article about one of those topics. If I title the paper with the topic such as “Top 10 Ways To Succeed In Social Media” but leave out my target audience qualifier “for B2B marketers,” I will get more B2B marketers to read it.
That’s right! If I try to label my audience then fewer of them and much fewer people in general will read it, share it, or care about it.
The main reason is that most people like to decide to do what they want to do for their own reasons. They do not like to be labeled even when the label is not offensive in any way. To put it another way, people will determine the relevance of content for themselves. They do this more often based on their interest in the topic and will reject any attempt to be put into a box.
So where do most people make this mistake? When they are marketing a solution to a specific industry, function, or size of business.
It is human nature to think that if you qualify your content, advertising, or marketing campaigns, that more people from that target group will respond. But they won’t. So please, stop making the mistake of thinking your target audience will conform to your view of the world.
My advice: Understand what your target audience is looking for. And create a compelling message or piece of content. Then deliver it in the right context in the places your audience is hanging out. You will see a higher response in general and get more responses in your target.
To avoid this mistake, we need to execute strategic content marketing programs by:
Defining our market segment based on buyer behaviors
Establishing buyer personas
Mapping content to buyer stages
Want an example? Following the best practices of search engine marketing and SEO shows you exactly what words a customer uses when looking to solve a problem. It also tells us what content they engage with when they find an answer.
Don’t Think You Know Where They Are
The next biggest mistake marketers make is in media selection. If you look across the marketing landscape today, too many of the media decisions are still based on the ego-driven “I know better syndrome.” We define our objectives, we brief the agency, if we’re lucky the agency scours the media landscape and brings their expertise to driving an amazing media plan. And when they present it, we say “Nahhhhh!” I think we should be in these other publications because I think that’s where our audience hangs out. (Moan! Sigh.Yawn.)
This report from Comscore shows us that in digital advertising, more than half of the effectiveness is based on the quality of the ad creative, around a third of effectiveness is based on the offer. Only 13% of ad effectiveness is based on the media.
The bottom line: focus on great creative and compelling offers and let the agency do their job in picking the right media.
Alternatively, Chris Kane from iMedia reports that when we do approve our media plans, we should utilize a real-time-bidding approach. In the chart below, Chris shows that this approach to media buying can yield 52% greater reach at 59% of the cost of traditional media site selection.
I hope I’ve given you enough evidence to fight off the digital marketing ego traps. But also, I think all this is good reason to pause and consider:
Is today’s digital marketing landscape requiring a new marketing skill set?
Can traditional marketers stay in the game or are the “search geeks” really taking over marketing?
Are you wondering why your B2B Marketing ideas aren’t gaining the traction you hoped for? Or maybe your campaigns just aren’t producing as well as you thought? Does your content languish on the shelves? How about your relationship with sales?
These are questions all B2B Marketers ask at some point but too often the answer is the same… The biggest mistake marketers make is that we make it all about us. We have to stop talking about ourselves. Ultimately, it is a matter of perspective. And like any transformation, it is not easy to change.
I am a small business and cannot afford to pay tons of money to create content. Any advice for small business marketers?
I write a lot about social media but we all know it all really comes down to the quality of our content. Now you may be thinking: “what does this guy who works for a large company know about the challenges of small business marketing?” Trust me, I have been there. This article will tell the story of what I did while working as the head of marketing for a small business.