Every B2B marketing effort starts with good intentions.
But not every B2B marketing effort works out well. If you’re struggling to market effectively, here are three things that may be going wrong.
1. You haven’t refined your market or developed your message effectively.
I’ve grouped these two things (market and message) together because they’re closely intertwined; without an understanding of your market, you can’t really shape your message effectively. Good B2B marketing starts with a well-defined market and a crystal-clear message. If you’re not starting with these things, you’re probably doing bad marketing.
This point might sound fairly obvious to you. Of course you want to target the right buyers with an effective message. But, in practice, many businesses struggle to do this, for a few reasons:
They work on assumptions.
You might be relying too heavily on anecdotal evidence to shape your buyer personas. Your CEO might have a feeling that certain buyers exist or that certain accounts are ideal – but you can’t let feelings drive B2B marketing without data to back them up. Do market research. Then use it.
They don’t get niche enough.
It’s tempting to err on the side of being everything to everyone to win business. The truth is, it’s better to be one thing to a specific group – it makes winning business easier. For instance, we worked with a MSP that initially positioned itself as specializing in “mid-sized offices.” That didn’t mean much. When we updated their market to “healthcare firms with more than 20 workstations” – and updated their messaging accordingly – they started to win business.
They get too niche.
This is far rarer, but it’s possible to whittle your audience so far down that there’s no audience left. Don’t do this. Make sure there are people to sell to before you put together a solution.
They make what they do too complicated.
You should be able to tell people what you do in 60 seconds. If you can’t, you need to work on your messaging.
They don’t communicate what problems they solve. The key to telling people what you do is explaining what problem you solve for them. If you can accurately explain a pain point that real people identify with, you’ll have no problem generating business.
There are other market and message problems, of course, but if your B2B marketing can avoid these five, you’ll be in decent shape.
2. You’re trying to do too much.
A second common B2B marketing problem is this: You aren’t focused. You’re trying to do too much.
If you’re responsible for marketing your firm, you may feel pressure to do everything. Social media marketing. Email marketing. SEO. Search ads. An ABM campaign. Podcasts. Video marketing. Corporate tattoos. Skywriting with personal aircrafts. The whole shebang.
The problem with trying to do everything, of course, is that you end up not being able to do anything particularly well. Managing your B2B marketing budget is like trying to spread not enough butter over too much toast.
Here’s the truth: 80% of results come from 20% of causes. You probably don’t need to do everything. You just need to find the 20% of marketing that will yield 80% of the results.
You should start with identifying the business goals that your B2B marketing is meant to support. Is it leads? Is it leads for a specific service in a specific location? Is it customer retention? Is it awareness generation? Obviously, this must be communicated between marketing and company leadership. Too often, it’s not communicated well, and goals – if they exist – aren’t SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely), which means they don’t get hit.
If you know your goals, you should identify two or three marketing strategies that will enable you to reach them. For instance, let’s say that you’re an IT provider, and your goals is to drive 50 interest form submissions for your new SOC service offering this quarter. You know that most sales of new service offerings come from existing accounts or contacts. So, instead of doing new lead generation, focus on marketing to your existing contacts to re-engage old accounts or upgrade current ones. Don’t worry about social media or SEO; focus on the 20% of activity that will drive 80% of results.
Don’t get lost in the 80% of activity that does little or nothing.
3. You haven’t aligned sales and marketing.
One more major issue to avoid: misalignment between sales and marketing.
We touched a bit on business alignment above, but it’s worth breaking out alignment between sales and marketing, specifically, because this is often one of the biggest areas of disconnect.
Sales and B2B marketing need to be on the same page. That means:
They need to agree on what the goals are. If marketing thinks the goal is to get 50 interest form submissions for your new SOC service, but sales thinks the goal is to get 50 fresh leads, you’d better clarify before things get ugly.
They need to agree on terms. Marketing might be throwing a ton of people they view as marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) to sales; sales might consider 98% of those MQLs to be worthless. Marketing might consider a lead to be anyone who fills out a form on the site; sales might view only contact form submissions as leads. The bottom line is that marketing and sales should come together to define key terms in support of goals. Both have valuable input to add, and if there’s disagreement, the efforts of both will suffer.
They should have shared metrics and they should review progress toward them regularly. Ultimately, B2B marketing and sales play for the same team. Shared responsibility leads to better teamwork. Divided responsibility leads to people getting thrown under the bus. Obviously, you can’t share every metric (and you shouldn’t), but there are numbers (like “Leads Worked,” SQLs, etc.) that can be co-owned, and, more importantly, both teams should be viewing the same dashboard. You can foster a competitive environment between these two functions, but I believe that, over the long-term, better results come from shared metrics and regular, collaborative reviews.
Want help avoiding these mistakes?
Let’s talk. At New North, we help B2B marketing teams to thrive – from audience and message clarification, to strategy and tactics, to business alignment. If you want to avoid these pitfalls and take your marketing to the next level, get in touch with us.