Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Alanna and I are jazzed about June! “Why?” you may ask. Because it’s Growth Month and our friends at Autoklose invited us to chat about startup marketing mistakes. 

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Last week, we recorded our session, Where Startup Marketing Goes Wrong, with Ollie Whitfield. During the conversation, we focused on three significant areas where startups often make marketing missteps: SEO, channel fatigue, and spending/marketing budgets. But we all know plenty of other ways to goof things up, whether you’re at a startup or a long-established business. That’s what this post is all about.

Now, we aren’t covering every mistake under the sun. These are just a few of the ones that really grind our gears.

B2B Marketing Mistake 1: Boring Content

boring content

Why does most B2B content marketing suck? Because it’s boring as hell, and that’s not a reflection on your industry or product.

Yeah. I know; some products are “boring.” However, I’m sure people in your industry do get excited about certain topics—topics that your product may be able to address. So, that just got rid of your excuse that “my product is too boring for content marketing.”

Anyway, it’s rarely the product that causes the marketing to be mind-numbing. And, if you’re a founder, you probably don’t think you’re baby is boring anyway.

So, where do B2B marketers run amuck? 

Your B2B content marketing might be boring if

  • The brand’s blog content talks more about your product than your customers’ issues.
  • Webinars are thinly veiled product demos where the presenter reads the slides, word by word.
  • You repeat the same old crap like everyone else in your industry in the same old way with the same old perspective.
  • You’re more focused on writing for search engines than prospects and customers.
  • Everything you do has to tie back directly to asking for a sale; sometimes, the customer courtship takes longer than a blog post read.
  • Stories take a back seat to features and “sales talk.”
  • Your B2B social media marketing is about broadcasting details about your product instead of engaging your audience.

As you begin your next content project, keep these questions in mind.

  • What is the business goal for this piece of content? (SEO-related, awareness, lead generation, etc.)
  • Will my buyer persona find this content helpful?
  • What need does it meet for my prospects and customers? (Information, education, other.)
  • When I read/watch/listen to the finished piece, does it sound like a commercial for the product or helpful information that assists a current or potential customer?
  • Is this created to help prospective customers or to appease internal stakeholders by praising the baby? (In other words, is the piece a bragfest about your product or company?)
  • Does the delivery/tone engage me, or is it as dull as watching paint dry? (Think of the difference between listening to a story and a lecture.)
  • When it comes to marketing and sales emails, do the subject lines and preview text entice readers?
  • Regarding webinars: Is the slide deck used to enhance the discussion, or is it a tool for torturing the audience? (Death by bullet points.)
  • Would my sales team agree that this content answers the questions they hear from potential customers?
  • Does the content align with my B2B brand?

Use storytelling and a focus on the customer to help guide your B2B brand away from tedious digital marketing initiatives.

capture marketing leads

B2B Marketing Mistake 2: Limited Lead Capture Plans

How do you generate B2B leads on your website? Do you have a phone number? Do you have a contact form? Points for trying, but those two things are not enough if you want to improve your lead generation efforts.

Even the best marketing effort can fall flat if you don’t have effective lead capture mechanisms.

Admittedly, most B2B brands have a solid lead generation strategy. However, many companies we talk to sometimes still miss out on ample opportunities. Here are a few things to add to your online presence:

Don’t go overboard with forms, but give your site and social media platforms plenty of opportunities to become lead gen machines.

B2B Marketing Mistake 3: Inadequate Use of Martech & Sales Tech

Now, I LOVE marketing technology, so I’m going to discuss leveraging martech and sales tech in your marketing strategy. Here are my three pet peeves when it comes to technology.

You don’t have the right tools.

Most B2B organizations should be using most, if not all, of the following solutions:

  • Marketing automation platforms, like HubSpot, for automating email marketing, social media publishing, ad campaigns, lead capture (forms, chat, pop-ups), reporting, and more.
  • Analytics and reporting solutions for measuring and analyzing visitor behavior and site performance.
  • SEO software to help you research keywords and competitors, audit your site’s SEO, and monitor keyword ranking and link profile
  • Email list validation tools to keep your marketing list clean.
  • Project management software to schedule progress on campaigns, map out editorial calendars and manage tasks.
  • Design software (even if it’s only Canva) for creating images for blog posts and social media.
  • Optional but valuable tools: a webinar platform, podcast creation and hosting solution, video creation tools
B2B marketing technology mistakes you may be facing.

You don’t make full use of the tools you have.

This section primarily focuses on programs with a lot of bells and whistles. If you buy HubSpot, Pardot, or some other marketing automation solution, you are wasting money if you only use it to send emails or put a few forms on your site.

These tools have so much more to offer, and it’s a crying shame to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars per month only to use this as a glorified email marketing tool.

When you put a marketing automation solution to work for you, from A to Z, you can do all kinds of cool stuff. You’ll be able to:

  • See how various campaign components work together.
  • Monitor activity against marketing efforts.
  • Use data collected to personalize marketing and deliver dynamic content to prospects.
  • See your return on marketing investments.
  • Make better content creation decisions and more.

You’re trying to cobble together a solution with a ton of different options.

Hallelujah for tools like Zapier and Pabbly for connecting platforms that don’t have native integrations. BUT, like everything else in life, you can have too much of a good thing.

If you’re using an email marketing platform, a separate CRM, another tool for website chat, another for SMS, a webinar platform, a virtual events platform, another for reporting, and so on, orchestrating and coordinating your data is a nightmare. And trying to link it all together using a tool like Zapier can work, but the chances are that something will break at some point.

Ask yourself why you’re trying to use all of these separate programs. If it’s just an effort to save money, add up the monthly costs for each platform. Then, think about the time required to manage all of them. The time and cost to manage them may be more than what’s required to implement a more sophisticated marketing technology option.

We’re not lawyers, and the information here isn’t legal advice. However, we want to remind you to familiarize yourself with these laws that can impact your content marketing efforts. Talk to your legal department or corporate counsel.

  • Data privacy laws—examples: GDPR, CPRA
  • Email marketing laws—examples: CAN-SPAM, CASL
  • Disclosure guidelines for your country; this may affect you (the brand), employees (if you have an employee advocacy program), and any influencers you work with

B2B Marketing Mistake 5: Not Balancing Content Creation with Repurposing and Refreshing

When all you do is create new content, you will have a growing collection of aging and irrelevant information. Plus, you’ll never catch a break: You will be writing, editing, recording, and producing all of the time.

Instead, you should think about your content inventory like you do your wardrobe. You can have fun adding cool new clothes from time to time, but you need to tend to everything that’s still hanging in your closet.

Sometimes, styles go out of fashion and need to be removed from the lineup so that you don’t look outdated.

Other items may be timeless and keep you looking good no matter what.

Other pieces may just need a minor tweak to make them relevant again.

Treat your content collection the same way.

If you’ve got a blog post about an industry issue that has long been resolved, it’s not really helping your site. Got an eBook with outdated information? You may be leaving the impression that your business is out of touch.

Create a content inventory sheet and do a periodic content audit of your stable of content. Identify what needs to be refreshed, what you can repurpose, and what you need to get rid of. Then, focus on new content to address content gaps.

What B2B Marketing Mistakes Make Your Pet Peeves List?

Maybe we missed the mistake that really gets under your skin: not defining buyer personas, failing to measure and report, and not getting sales and marketing teams aligned. Those and more plague organizations, too. Maybe we’ll follow up with a part two!

About the author

Stacy Jackson is a founding partner at The B2B Mix, a marketing firm located in Dunedin, Florida. In addition to her work at Jackson Marketing, Stacy is a co-host of The B2B Mix Show podcast. You can follow her on Twitter at @stacy_jax and connect with her on LinkedIn.
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