The Three Biggest Mistakes in B2B Marketing

Having supported B2B marketers nationally and globally for over 25 years, we have noticed a variety of avoidable marketing mistakes organizations make that reduce the impact of their marketing efforts. The following is not an exhaustive list; rather it is what we consider the biggest of the marketing mistakes committed by B2B marketers. Some of the other mistakes that organizations often make but that don’t make it into the top three will be mentioned at the end of this post.

In our experience, the three biggest mistakes B2B marketers make are:

1. Insufficient nuancing of targeting

This mistake consists of two subtypes. The first lies in simply “going with” the largest possible target audience, i.e., all buyers of x (where “x” is the product category). In today’s crowded and competitive marketplace, where technical product quality generally fails to be a differentiator, using messaging geared toward the lowest common denominator will likely force you to compete for share on the basis of price. Savvy marketers identify the types (demographic, psychographic) prospects that are ideal for the brand and create marketing that effectively targets them.

The other subtype of mistake that relates to targeting is neglecting the fact that not all prospects are at the same stage of the buying cycle and ready to purchase. Effective marketing efforts target prospects at all major stages of the buyer’s journey to minimize the number of missed opportunities by providing stage-appropriate communications and value to those prospects—and reducing the likelihood of being perceived as irrelevant and possibly annoying. (For more information on Customer Journey Mapping, see our post.)

2. Failing to appreciate and target the human element

Many B2B marketers focus on selling the product or service first rather than the brand. But, making a purchase decision involves more than product specs and includes many “softer” variables like respect for the company, shared values, trust and liking the representatives of the company, etc. B2B buyers are people, and we know from psychological research and behavioral economics that B2B buyers make purchase decisions based on a mix of emotional and functional variables. In fact, often the decision is emotional first and then rationalized with functional variables. Again, in today’s market, there are quality alternatives to virtually every product or service, so minor functional differences between individual product offerings are unlikely to help a B2B customer decide to buy from your brand over another.

Brands that speak to these softer variables through their marketing (and other communications and behaviors) will have a greater chance of being the prospect’s choice—all functional (product quality, price, availability, etc.) being equal.

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3. Failing to emphasize content marketing

This third mistake is related to #2 in that providing high-quality content that is not directly sales-related helps instill perceptions of leadership, trust and brand appreciation among prospective customers (and customers). Brands that provide extracurricular value to prospects create goodwill that will serve the brand well when the prospect is ready to purchase.

Content marketing is a brand-building and relationship-building method that may not move the sales needle in the short term, but it is an effective way of building goodwill with prospects and a competitive moat against competitors that grows incrementally over the mid- to long-term. Few B2B brands do this really well, so it is a great way to make your marketing more effective over time.

Beyond these three mistakes we’ve observed in B2B marketing, a few others deserve mention here. One we see all too often is the failure to leverage data and analytics effectively to optimize marketing efforts. Another is neglecting mobile optimization of your website by failing to recognize how prevalent the use of mobile screens is becoming, even within B2B. And finally, another mistake we see in the B2B marketing space is a lack of consistency in brand communications across different marketing channels, which represents a missed opportunity to reinforce the brand at best, or a source of confusion to your target audiences at worst.

For help avoiding these common B2B marketing mistakes, let Six Degrees help you.

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Six Degrees
Six Degrees uses psycho-sensory tools and techniques to build more successful national and global brands. Brands are rooted in human perception. And our psycho-sensory approach is designed to identify deeper and richer insights from human perception and then develop brand communications that change suboptimal perceptions or reinforce the right perceptions. More than 80 percent of the information humans process is nonverbal, making it essential that brands manage the sensory signals they send out. Our people are passionate branding experts wielding powerful psycho-sensory tools to build stronger and more successful brands across the globe.

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