We talk a lot about elevating B2B marketing on this blog, but we don’t always provide side by side examples of what approaches work and which ones don’t. What separates mediocre marketing from marketing excellence in B2B campaigns?
The short answer is: a lot. And certainly there is more that separates the good from the bad than could ever be covered by a single blog post. But to get you started, there are four main categories to consider when evaluating your marketing approach.
Let’s take a look at four factors that differentiate mediocre marketing from marketing excellence.
1 — Lazy vs. thoughtful
Is it harsh to call mediocre marketing lazy? Maybe. But I can tell you this: the opposite of genuine thought and effort is laziness.
What exactly does it mean to be lazy in marketing?
One version of lazy marketing is collateral that goes into detail about statistics, product features, or some other data the brand wants to tell you about and… they leave it at that. Aren’t these features great? Isn’t that statistic interesting? Sure, maybe. But also: so what?
If you don’t explain to me why your statistics or product features matter to me specifically, you have only done half the job. That’s where thoughtfulness comes in: tell me what your specific bits of data have to do with me. Talk me through how my day-to-day problems are solved by your product. Show me you have thought about me and I’m way more apt to act.
“Talk me through how my day-to-day problems are solved by your product. Show me you have thought about me and I’m way more apt to act.” — Art Allen @punsultant
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2 — Boring vs. creative
The idea that only B2C marketing can be creative and B2B marketing has to be boring is dead. And it has been for a while! In fact, creativity in B2B marketing is so well developed that there are now awards honoring the best of the best.
Don’t worry too much about coming up with the most creative idea anyone has ever seen. This isn’t about writing the Great American Novel, it’s just about making your marketing content more enjoyable for your audience. Enjoyable content keeps people around, and creative content is generally more fun to consume.
But just being fun and creative isn’t enough. Over at LinkedIn, Alexandra Rynne recently wrote, “It feels good as a B2B marketer to make cool stuff. Yet if we’re only making cool stuff for cool stuff’s sake, we’re going to end up back at boring whitepapers (gasp!) touting features and benefits.” Now it’s not only boring, we’re getting into lazy territory. Double trouble!
“It feels good as a B2B marketer to make cool stuff. Yet if we’re only making cool stuff for cool stuff’s sake, we’re going to end up back at boring whitepapers (gasp!) touting features and benefits.” — Alexandra Rynne @amrynnie
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3 — Brand-only vs. Influencer marketing
Does your audience trust you? If you’re trying to reach new customers, chances are gaining their trust is an uphill battle — which is to say no, they don’t trust you.
If you come to these new potential customers with a hard pitch, the best result you can hope for is that they’ll ignore you. What’s more likely is that they will see your branded content trying to convince them of something and decide “this is mediocre.”
But there is a way to reach these people and get them on your side: marketing influencers.
When we published the comprehensive 2022 B2B Influencer Marketing Report, one of the most striking responses we got was that 72% of B2B marketers say influencer marketing improves brand reputation. And it makes sense: third party endorsement of your product or service can go a long way in showing its value to an audience that may otherwise not have considered your brand.
Sure, influencer marketing may not be the right tool for every campaign, but its potential remains huge.
“Third party endorsement of your product or service can go a long way in showing its value to an audience that may otherwise not have considered your brand.” — Art Allen @punsultant
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4 — Vanity metrics vs. Meaningful KPIs
We all want to do a good job! But vanity metrics are a staple of mediocre marketing. If all you’re measuring are things like impressions, page views, or likes on social media, you may feel good about how big those numbers are. But B2B marketing isn’t (just) about feeling good, it’s also about driving conversions.
Truly excellent marketing will still have impressive vanity metrics — because they’re easy to get. But it will also have impressive results for the KPIs that matter: sales, leads, downloads, or whatever results your campaign was built to drive. If the results can’t be tied to a measurable business outcome, it doesn’t matter how many millions of people may have seen it as they scrolled through LinkedIn.
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