90% of success is just showing up...B2B Marketing's big lie

Ed Marsh | May 19, 2014

Perspiration vs. inspiration and all the other insipid and irrelevant tips!

Sadly, very few B2B manufacturing companies take the step of updating their biz dev approach.  Instead they stagnate as they vainly hammer away with cold calls and other 80s type direct sales approaches. 

TRAGICALLY, many that do make the move to a more sensible approach fail.  There's a huge 'bait and switch' at work in most content marketing promotion.  "Write a few blog posts" and sales qualified leads will come streaming in it seems from most of the content created to market content marketing.  That quickly becomes "Well of course it's not working, you haven't done XXX, XXX, XXX or XXX."

Here's the brutal truth.  Inbound marketing is a ton of work.  There's a lot of trial and error.  It takes time.  It costs money.  It takes planning.  It takes technique.  Most will quit before they succeed - and many will never succeed based on the haphazard approach they take.

And specific challenges increase the complexity of the task for B2B manufacturers and industrial companies, while simultaneously radically reducing the number of folks qualified to advise, assist and execute.  These challenges tend to trip up the graphic design / PR agency cum digital marketing agency staffed by folks who have never set foot in a factory. 

And they really frustrate the DiY types who assume that a "blog" in their site navigation combined with a few blog posts will yield results.  

Doubt creeping in?

b2b marketing success requires attention to detailsDid you drink the cool aid?  Step out ahead of competitors with great optimism and bold digital marketing plans, but find yourself now wondering if you made a mistake?

Have you worked diligently at it - even far more than the 5 hours a week some suggest is adequate?  And have yet to move the needle? 

Not sure what you're doing wrong?

The answer is simple - you're not doing enough and/or you're not doing it correctly.

Content marketing's acknowledged 'secret' is that statistically success requires a large volume of content, created consistently, across multiple types and channels, promoted creatively.  That is a lot of work.  (Research indicates a minimum of 16 hours of weekly work for a typical SMB to realize reasonable success.)

But what's only whispered in polite company is that while "doing the work" may be a handy yardstick of commitment and industriousness, it's only casually related to any degree of success.  In fact it is not only possible, but indeed likely that a company could commit substantial resources to inbound marketing and receive virtually no return.  

To succeed, B2B content marketing must be built on careful planning, precise technique and relentless, detailed execution - it's not enough to work hard.

Missing the mark?

The good news is that the energy and commitment can be channeled into measurable and repeatable success.  It's a matter of some course correction.  Here's a list of areas where many manufacturers get sideways in their well intentioned efforts at DiY content marketing:
  • content is all product focused - nobody cares about your product!  They buy the result/impact which it delivers.  So you can write, record and draw about your product all day long...fruitlessly.
  • insufficient content - statistically there are clear plateaus in the relationship between qualified lead generation and #s of blog posts and landing pages.  Number, frequency and consistency all figure in success.
  • poor optimization - this isn't about the meta tags that your website designer put on your site a couple years ago.  This is about long-tail keywords used with technical precision on your site (in page urls, titles, image tags and content itself) and referenced appropriately in your content, press releases, social media, etc.
  • crappy content - if there's any chance that someone downloads your offer, loads your video or clicks through to your blogpost only to think that it was a waste of their time, then you've got a content quality issue.  It matters not a whit whether you're satisfied with it - if it's not relevant, helpful, insightful or valuable for your prospects then it's low quality.
  • single content type - your prospects are individuals.  You might prefer to read a whitepaper in the evening on your tablet.  They might more easily digest a concise infographic overview or watch a brief video on their smartphone while waiting in line for lunch.  
  • doesn't correlate to how people make decisions - research, evaluation, justification and purchase aren't a single step, particularly for the complex sales process common among products manufactured by B2B companies.  And yet few companies create content which can be mapped against stages in teh buyer journey.  What a shame it is to have awesome resources for buyers at the earliest stages of their research only to squander the opportunity by providing nothing with greater depth and substance as the process advances.
  • no nurturing - you know from your own experience that the ease with which you can search for solutions means you search more often and more casually.  You might really need a solution to a problem....eventually....but not when you happen to take the 4 minutes to look for it.  And a company which then labels you a lead, tries 2X to call you and then gives up is selling according to the "old rules."  Today's metrics indicate that traction develops around the 7th contact.  That means that your initiative must anticipate a long, gradual process - and virtually develop the relationships and foster credibility.
  • missing a continuous improvement approach - you aren't going to get this right at first.  And when you do get it right the environment will change so you'll be wrong again.  If you view your effort as one that is designed once and then executed, you'll fail.  A/B testing of landing pages, emails, calls to action, site personalization and other details must be ongoing.  And the data must be carefully interpreted and acted upon.
  • inadequately promoted - great content which is never consumed creates value for no one.  You've got to sensibly use social media (even if you deem it absurd) to introduce wider audiences to your ability to impact their business.  In the B2B manufacturing world that means LinkedIn, followed by a couple others.  You and your staff need to be active in group discussions, and share your content when appropriate.
  • low quality email marketing - we all hate email...and we all use it.  Email marketing works (or it can work if done correctly.)  But that doesn't mean more sterile, corporate speak.  Properly paced, personalized, focused emails which invite specific, reasonable action make a difference.

But is that enough?

How does this fit into a framework for success?  And what else is required?
  1. Commit to a digital marketing initiative (this must come from the top and be for at least a year to gauge long-term value)
  2. Spend the time / resources (but that's not enough!)
  3. Apply those resources effectively (start with the points above to gauge where you stand)
  4. Sweat the details (the mechanics of your execution are critical...and invisible)
  5. Adapt your sales approach to the expectations of this new lead type
Later this week we'll dive into 4 & 5.  But in the meantime, if you've made the commitment to digital marketing for your B2B manufacturing business and diligently invested resources - but haven't yet seen results, check your efforts against these points.  Want to chat about it live?  Let's schedule a call.  And in the meantime check out my free book on the evolution of B2B Sales & Marketing.

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image - ceilon.net