In marketing, there is always something new to learn. In fact, in the agency world, part of our jobs is to stay up-to-date with the latest in marketing so we can educate our clients, whether it’s a new advertising platform, an update to Google’s search algorithm or a new trend in social media. It’s how we keep clients pushing forward to reach their goals.
But the latest and the greatest, that thing everyone is talking about, doesn’t work for everyone—especially in B2B marketing. Often, we come across clients and prospects that are focused on marketing that isn’t strategic and isn’t rooted in a strong foundation—and won’t really help companies reach their goals. It’s work that takes up time and resources, but it doesn’t help in the long run.
Social media for social media’s sake
We often find that B2B companies don’t have much of a strategy behind what they’re posting, and fill their feeds with a mix of staff updates and self-promotion, rather than audience-focused content. Spray and pray doesn’t work, especially because social media channels are increasingly noisy. Breaking through the clutter requires a strategy deeper than “let’s post once a day.”
Bending over backward for SEO
For years, SEO folks did a great job of making it seem like SEO is the most important marketing tool ever. But that’s just not the case for many B2B companies. As we’ve ranted, putting all your eggs in the SEO basket is a bad idea if you have 40 clients and would be ecstatic to gain five more in a year. Website traffic does not equal new customers. You’re likely trying to drive significant traffic to a page or post when all you really need is to have a few good conversations per month. And, as part of the process, you’re probably developing content that’s less than audience-focused … which has the impact of diminishing the number of high-quality conversations.
Thoughtless website redesigns
If it’s been more than a couple of years since you refreshed your website, it’s time. But a website update is more than just adding a fresh coat of paint. This should not be about you being bored with what you have; it should be about creating a better experience for your audience.
It’s an opportunity to consider (or reconsider) how users move through your site now, and how you’d like them to move through in the future. Done well, your company website can do a bunch of legwork for you and the rest of your marketing team. But the focus should be on content and user experience first.
Not realizing your brand story is inward-facing
Your story is your defining purpose; it’s your strategy. Though figuring out your story might sound a bit “squishy,” it is the foundation for your company. The goal is to develop a marketing strategy that rolls up to this foundation.
Importantly, the hero of your brand’s story is your customer—not the CEO, not the CFO, not the over-caffeinated sales bro. Too many companies think their story should be about them, but it should be about your customer achieving new heights thanks to your product or service.
Strategy takes time, yes, but it’s important. Done well, it could change your brand’s trajectory. Here’s a bit of our process.
Review background and context with stakeholders: To create your story, it’s vital for stakeholders to get on the same page about the buyer’s journey to understand who, what, where, when and why—even if you think you’re aligned, have the conversation. Then, discuss business goals. What would make the coming year a success?
Get an internal and external view: Take stock of the marketing you’ve done in the past—things like plans, collateral, internal communications, advertising, etc. Your Mission, Vision and Values also play a role in creating foundational elements of your brand. If you don’t have those pieces, now is the time to consider developing them.
Next up, a competitive analysis and some customer interviews can help you get a handle on where your company fits into the industry. Having all this information at your disposal can help you take a step back, consider the internal and external forces that impact your business, and develop a story that sets your company apart.
In the end, good strategy often comes down to putting yourselves in your audience’s shoes and thinking about what they ultimately need. Which marketing tactics should fit into that strategy should come into focus pretty quickly … but you do have to take the time for these strategic discussions. Otherwise, you might end up with a website that doesn’t suit visitors, a social strategy that falls flat, or a content strategy that serves Google more than anyone else.