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In marketing, failure carries a high price. Ineffective strategies can irreparably damage relationships between CMOs and the rest of the C-suite and, potentially, stunt business growth.

Here are six traps that businesses marketing to other businesses get caught in most often, so you can get it right off the bat.

1.Going all-in on any single tactic

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all strategy but there is one piece of advice that is applicable to pretty much every business: take an integrated approach with a focus on building your brand over the long term.

This isn’t a popular view among marketers, for whom job mobility is notoriously high. Better to focus on short term, low-cost tactics, throw a few things up on social, see ‘results’ in hours and, when anyone asks, point to the spikes in website visitors, views, shares, likes, even some ‘marketing-qualified’ leads.

Up until relatively recently, it was pretty easy to get away with this. Social was new. The competing noise was less. Gaining organic reach hovered somewhere between free and a rounding error on marketing budgets. But that was then.

Today, everyone is doing social, everyone is creating content and the social networks are ensuring that if you wanna play, you gotta pay. Most blog posts get miniscule engagement. The vast majority of social media shares are hardly shared at all. And the gap between the leads yielded from marketing and ‘sales accepted’ leads is often laughable. Put simply, it’s not working any more.

Worst of all, this approach can’t be tracked through to pipeline or revenue – and that’s the kind of return that CEOs and CFOs really want to see.

2. Believing your customers care about you

The biggest mistake most companies ever make is assuming their customers care about them. They don’t. They only care about their businesses and/or about their own standing within them.

Never forget, these people have long to-do lists and very little time. If they spend more than a few minutes a day thinking about our area of interest, we’re lucky. So, we need to clearly and compellingly show them they have a problem or opportunity, that it is important and that it’s urgent.

It’s all about them.

Before we ever get the chance to engage with a prospect about our products and services, content marketing can help them recognise they either have a problem that needs solving or that there is an opportunity they should pursue.

That means identifying your audience, creating persuasive, well-reasoned content for every stage of the buying journey (the first of which is ‘I don’t think I have a problem’) and putting it in front of them.

3. Not realising who and what you’re up against

Your competition isn’t just the usual suspects that you can reel off. In fact, your biggest competitor is likely to be ‘do nothing’. And here’s why…

Change is risky. To many prospects, it is far safer to avoid change than to embrace it. While they may look forward to what they might gain by buying your product, the fear of what they might lose if they make a poor decision is often even more compelling.

I roll my eyes every time I hear the quote, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” as it comes up so often in meetings. But, at the same time, it holds a powerful lesson: fear of failure is visceral.

Your product may tick every box on the buyer’s list but if they don’t feel right about the deal, it’s unlikely to happen.

Faced by this situation, many sales and marketing pros go to town reinforcing that all those boxes have indeed been ticked. They’ll highlight other boxes that may be important and how they’ve been ticked too. They’ll give every rational reason why this is a very good deal. But it isn’t a rational decision. It’s an emotional one.

While the instinct is to try to close the prospect as quickly as possible, objection handling anything that comes up, this can actually serve to increase a buyer’s perception of risk. And that is a bad thing.

What they actually need is reassurance. They need to be able to picture what the next 30, 60 and 90 days will be like if they sign the deal. They need to know what will happen if everything goes wrong (things always go wrong). They need to be confident that they won’t be crippled by buyer’s remorse. Great content can do that.

4. Failing to experiment

It’s not a case of whether to use LinkedIn or Facebook, direct marketing or PR, it’s a case of using a wide range of them, plus syndication and media advertising – and so on. The goal is to create multiple integrated touchpoints, because if prospects are to become customers, they need to see or interact with your brand many times before they make contact with you.

Some touchpoints will be more powerful than others and some content will resonate well or not at all – it’s audience-dependent – but you won’t learn if you don’t try.

5. Falling for the latest tactic-du-jour

Touted by people who make their money from speaking engagements, book sales or software, there’s a big problem with tactics-du-jour and the clue is in the name: they’re tactics, not strategy.

Perhaps the most damaging yet inevitable shift in B2B marketing in recent years has been the move from strategy to tactics. Simply, it has never been easier to do stuff. Conversely, it has never been more difficult to work out what stuff to do.

This is the crux of the issue. With mounting time pressures, lessening budgets and fewer people, today’s marketing teams will quite naturally default to the easiest, fastest thing to do.

6. Thinking hyper-targeting is sensible

In recent years there has been an increasing shift towards hyper-targeting customers. It has been driven by the explosion in martech, with platforms promising they can identify our audiences and tell us all sorts of things that will inform and improve our marketing.

While this might work for marketing consumer products and services (eg if you’re selling gardening tools knowing who’s into gardening is genuinely valuable insight) in B2B sales decisions, it’s not that straightforward.

For a start, there isn’t only one person involved. Multiple people in leadership roles, finance, IT and admin influence the sale and require convincing, so those who target very limited audiences tend to come unstuck.

Secondly, most targeting data available in B2B cannot be trusted: it’s either very low quality or becomes rapidly out of date.

The bad news is that you’ll need to spend more to reach more people, but as B2B products and services are big ticket items: the reward is far higher too.