B2B companies are often the best at what they do.
After all, they are selling their products and services to other successful businesses that need large quantities of their products. But, when it comes to marketing, many of them fall flat because they think that since they are not “selling to consumers”, they do not need to market. This could not be further from the truth!
Effective B2B marketing is one of the most important aspects of a successful business.
In this blog post, we will discuss the top 8 mistakes b2b companies make when marketing and how you can avoid them!
1. Not targeting the right audience
One of the most common mistakes that B2B companies make is failing to target the right audience. As a result, their marketing efforts are often ineffective and can even backfire.
There are a few key reasons why this is such a major mistake.
First, B2B companies often have very specific products or services that are only of interest to a limited number of people. If they try to reach too many people with their marketing, they will inevitably end up wasting time and money on people who have no need for their products.
For instance, a company that sells industrial machinery specifically for the food processing industry, would not want to waste time and money marketing to restaurants because food processing usually happens before a restaurant buys the finished product to assemble and cook.
Both companies are in the “food service” industry, but they are buying different things.
It is far more effective to target a specific audience with outreach, SEO, niche industry tradeshows, and media placements, that is likely to be interested in your products or services.
Not only will this save you time and money, but it will also make your marketing more effective.
Second, B2B companies often operate in highly competitive industries. By failing to target their marketing specifically at their ideal customers, they risk losing out to their competitors who can more effectively reach and persuade those customers.
To avoid this mistake, B2B companies need to take the time to clearly define their target audience. Once they have done that, do the most necessary thing any marketer can do: create an avatar.
An avatar is a fictional character that represents your ideal customer. By creating an avatar, you will be able to more effectively target your marketing efforts and ensure that you are reaching the right people.
There are a few key questions to answer when creating your avatar:
- What is their age?
- What is their gender?
- What is their location?
- What are their interests?
- What is their job title and responsibilities?
- What are their pain points?
- Why do they need your product or service?
By taking the time to answer these questions, you will be well on your way to creating an avatar that will help you target your marketing more effectively.
2. Focusing on features instead of benefits
B2B companies need to focus on a product strategy that demonstrates how their product solves customers’ problems and delivers value, not on an exhaustive list of features.
B2B customers don’t care about your product features; they care about how your product will make their lives easier or their business more successful.
When B2B companies focus too much on features, it crushes their marketing effectiveness because B2B buyers are turned off by an endless list of technical details and jargon.
Features might be valuable when making a sale and closing a deal, but not usually at the first, second or third point of contact.
For instance, imagine you are a software company selling project management software to construction companies.
When your potential customer is walking through a tradeshow that you have a booth at, or reading an industry article that you sponsored, they won’t stop what they are doing to learn about how many “bells and whistles” your software has or how it is the most “powerful” on the market.
As consumers, we are too adjusted and can sniff out and ignore advertising without even knowing it. It doesn’t work anymore.
They want to know how your software will make their lives easier by helping them to complete their projects on time and under budget.
So instead of leading with:
- Manage tasks
- Easily assign tasks
- Schedule due dates
- Manage contractors
- Track time
- Save time with AI scheduling and time tracking
- Reduce expenses with material cost-estimation
- Improve customer satisfaction with AR planning and approvals
Only after you have grabbed their attention with a benefit-focused message, should you start talking about your product’s features.
By doing so, B2B companies will be more effective in their marketing and more successful in selling their products.
3. Not creating a strong value proposition
If you’re in the B2B space, then you know your product has to be useful to sell to the market.
But if you are not a marketer, then you probably are not wondering whether your website, your brochures, your emails, your ads or your tradeshow efforts are conveying the right value proposition.
After all, without a differentiated and compelling value proposition, your company’s product or service is just another commodity. But what exactly is a value proposition, and why is it so important?
A value proposition is a statement that articulates the unique benefits of your product or service. It’s what sets your offering apart from the competition and makes it appealing to your target customer.
Here are a few of value proposition examples:
- “We are the only company that offers X to Y companies.”
- “We are the most cost-efficient company that offers X to the Z industry.”
- “We offer the best quality X for companies that need A,B, or C.”
- “We have the most experience with X, when you’re faced with D, E, or F.”
Value propositions must be clear, concise, and relevant to your target customer.
Without a strong value proposition, your marketing efforts will fall flat because you won’t be able to effectively communicate what makes your company or product special.
There are several common mistakes that companies make when crafting their value proposition:
- Not understanding the needs of their target market (see mistake number 1);
- Trying to be everything to everyone;
- Failing to articulate the unique benefits of their product or service (see mistake number 2).
If you want to create a strong value proposition, start by doing your research and getting to know your target customer. What are their pain points? What are they looking for in a product or service? Once you have a good understanding of their needs, you can start to craft a message that resonates with them and sets your offering apart from the competition.
Don’t try to be everything to everyone – it’s not possible, and it will only make your value proposition weaker. Be specific about who your target customer is and what needs you’re trying to meet.
And finally, make sure you are articulating the unique benefits of your product or service. What can your customer expect to gain by using your offering? How will it make their life easier or their business more successful? Answering these questions will help you create a value proposition that is clear, concise, and compelling.
If you can avoid these three mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a strong value proposition that will help you win more business. Stay tuned for next week’s post, where we’ll dive into mistake number four on our list: failing to tell a story with your marketing content.
4. Not having a clear call to action (CTA)
Every B2B marketing campaign needs a clear call to action (CTA).
Heck, EVERY company needs a clear CTA.
Without one, companies risk losing the interest of their target audience and failing to achieve their desired results.
A little freaky knowledge for you; it’s estimated that we are all hit with about 4,000- 10,000 marketing messages per day. If you think about that for a moment, doesn’t it seem difficult for someone’s brain to decide to act on even one of those messages?
Marketing 101: Tell people what you want them to do after you have won their attention.
There are several reasons why a lack of a clear call to action can be detrimental to a B2B marketing campaign.
First, it can make the campaign seem disorganized and confusing.
You probably haven’t visited a website and thought, “What do they want me to do?”…
But when you visit a website that just has info, subconsciously you either leave because there is nowhere else for you to click. Or you read the content, think ‘well that was cool’, then leave.
Second, failing to include a CTA can make it difficult to measure the success of the campaign.
How will you know if people are taking the desired action if you don’t tell them what that is?
Third, not having a CTA can cause people to lose interest in the campaign.
If there’s no clear next step, why would someone continue engaging with the content? The only way is if they already really need what you are offering and are willing to research on their own whether you are the best fit for them.
(Hint: that’s not many people these days).
Including a CTA doesn’t have to be complicated.
It can be as simple as adding a “Buy Now” or “Learn More”, or “Read Our Case Studies”.
To avoid these problems, B2B marketers should ensure that their campaigns have a clear and concise call to action. By doing so, they can increase the likelihood of achieving exceptional business results.
5. Not understanding the customer journey
It’s no secret that B2B companies are struggling to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of marketing.
To be effective, B2B marketers need to have a deep understanding of the customer journey. Without this understanding, B2B companies will continue to see their marketing efforts fall flat. Here are three ways B2B companies can build an amazing customer journey:
Start by understanding the customer’s problem, and where they look for solutions.
B2B marketers understand that the customer’s journey does not start and end with a purchase.
B2B customers are constantly researching solutions to their problems, looking for new product innovations, and weighing their options before making a final decision. B2B marketers need to be there at every step of the customer’s journey, providing valuable resources and information that will help them make the best decision for their business.
B2B marketers who take the time to understand the customer’s problem and where they look for solutions will be better positioned to create a great customer journey.
Build a comprehensive view of the stages of the journey from problem to purchase.
By understanding each stage of the journey, B2B marketers can develop more targeted and effective marketing strategies that guide prospects through the decision-making process.
Furthermore, mapping out the customer journey can also help B2B marketers identify potential roadblocks and areas where customer churn is most likely to occur.
A few of the common stages are :
- Awareness: The customer is aware they have a problem or opportunity they want to address.
- Research: The customer is researching possible solutions to their problem.
- Evaluation: The customer has narrowed down their options and is evaluating which solution is the best fit for their needs.
- Purchase: The customer has made a decision and is ready to purchase a product or service.
- After-purchase: The customer has received and used the product or service and may provide feedback about their experience.
B2B marketers who take the time to understand each stage of the journey will be better equipped to create targeted content, campaigns, and offers that move prospects through the funnel towards a purchase – ultimately leading to more conversions and sales.
Create content that is relevant to each stage of the journey.
A huge mistake B2B companies make is not segmenting their audience.
Segmentation is key in any marketing strategy, but it is especially important in B2B marketing. The reason for this is that B2B buyers are often very different from one another. They have different needs, pain points, and budgets. By segmenting your audience, you can create targeted content that appeals to each group’s specific needs. This will help you move prospects through the funnel more effectively and increase your chances of making a sale.
For instance, if you’re selling an expensive enterprise software solution, you’ll need to create different content for small businesses than you would for large enterprises.
Or, if you’re selling a complex BPM software solution, you’ll need to create different content for business owners than you would for IT decision-makers.
The bottom line is that B2B companies need to create content that is relevant to each stage of the customer’s journey. By doing so, they will be better able to guide prospects through the decision-making process and ultimately increase sales.
B2B companies that create content that is relevant to each stage of the customer’s journey will be able to more effectively nurture leads and convert them into customers.
If B2B companies can take these steps, they will be well on their way to creating a customer journey that leads to conversions and long-term customers.
6. Having a disjointed marketing strategy
Any B2B company that wants to be successful needs to have an effective marketing strategy in place.
Unfortunately, far too many businesses make the mistake of having a disjointed marketing strategy. Or worse, no marketing strategy at all.
This can lead to several problems, including a lack of focus, inconsistency, and wasted resources. Perhaps most importantly, a disjointed marketing strategy is far less likely to be effective than a well-organized one.
By contrast, a marketing strategy that is well thought out and executed can make all the difference for a B2B company.
Here are two examples:
- A) Take a company that has no marketing team buying random billboards pitched to them by local media companies, running unattended Google ads because they got an email from Google, or making brochures that list its features (see mistake # 3). The likelihood that these marketing efforts will have an ROI is because there is no cohesive effort focused on a single business outcome. It’s just random information thrown all over the place.
- B) Now let’s look at a company that has a marketing expert planning and executing a well-thought-out plan to generate more leads from marketing. They forego the billboards and Google Ads because they are selling to a very specific group of metal processing facilities.
Instead, they build a strategic plan to be present in every influential tradeshow, industry media company, and association that allows the company to gain attention and have a “voice”.
They create slide decks, brochures, and videos that all cohesively show the benefits of their products over the competitions.
And throughout all of their events, content, and marketing materials there is a single CTA for prospects to visit a website that allows them to experience the product using AR and get a free quote.
Company B clearly has a more cohesive marketing strategy and will succeed if they offer value and stay consistent.
This marketing strategy can help to build brand awareness, generate leads, and close sales. In short, there is simply no substitute for a well-crafted marketing strategy.
7. Not measuring results
As any B2B marketer knows, effective marketing is essential for driving company growth.
However, many B2B marketers don’t take the time to measure the results of their marketing efforts.
This can be a fatal mistake, as it’s impossible to improve your marketing effectiveness if you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t.
Without measuring results, you’re essentially flying blind.
Remember that cohesive marketing strategy we talked about above? All that work will be a waste of time, effort, and money because you will have no idea if it’s working or not.
To avoid this, B2B marketers need to make sure that they’re constantly measuring the results of their marketing efforts.
There are lots of programs that can help you measure your B2B marketing effectiveness.
For example, software programs like Google Analytics make it easy to track website traffic, leads, and conversions.
Marketing automation platforms like HubSpot can also be used to measure the results of your marketing campaigns.
There are a host of enterprise programs from Salesforce, Adobe, and Marketo that will not only give you insights into your marketing effectiveness but also help you organize your efforts.
No matter what type of software you use, the important thing is that you’re constantly measuring your results so that you can make improvements.
8. Failing to adapt their marketing strategy based on the needs of their target market
B2B companies need to take their marketing seriously- especially when it comes to adapting their strategy to the needs of their target market. If they don’t, they risk becoming irrelevant and being crushed by their competitors. Here are two of the biggest reasons why b2b companies fail to adapt their marketing strategy based on the needs of their target market:
They’re too focused on the past.
B2B companies that rely on marketing strategies that worked for them in the past are living in a bubble. The world changes rapidly, and what worked yesterday might not work today. B2B companies need to be constantly innovating and evolving their marketing strategies to keep up with the times.
They’re afraid of change.
Many bb companies are afraid to change their marketing strategy because they think it will be too much work or they’ll make a mistake. But the truth is, change is always scary- but it’s also essential for survival. The companies that are afraid to change will be left behind by their competitors who are willing to take risks.
They are in an upmarket and growing
This is by far the biggest future killer. A common reason B2B companies don’t adapt their marketing strategy is that they’re doing well and growing. They think, “Why fix something that isn’t broken?” But the truth is, even in an upmarket, things can change quickly. And if you’re not prepared for it, you could find yourself in a downward spiral very quickly.
(*Cough* pandemic *Cough*)
The solution to these issues is simple: measure everything, then have a single person or team responsible for proving why change is necessary.
If a B2B company doesn’t know how to adapt its marketing strategy, they need to hire someone who does. There’s no shame in admitting that you need help- the important thing is that you’re willing to do something about it.
Boom. You’re done. That’s it. No more excuses for why your company isn’t generating the leads it should be. Time to fix these mistakes and get your B2B game on!
If you need help, I’m always here.
Just shoot me an email or give me a call. We would be happy to chat with you about how we can help grow your business. Thanks for reading!
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below what other mistakes B2B companies make when marketing themselves! And, as always, if you need help with any of this – reach out, we are here for you! 🙂 Happy marketing!