B2B inbound marketing isn't a checklist of steps - it's a synthesis

Ed Marsh | Jun 23, 2014

Managing workflow and priorities...or simply completing component elements?

Often B2B manufacturing companies, intrigued by the compelling ROI (and measurable nature) of inbound marketing, undertake to explore the potential for their business.  That exploration normally starts with a focus on one of three areas:
  • SEO
  • Website
  • Social media
That starting point is frequently determined by nothing more significant than personal preference or the emphasis of the content item that prompted someone to start.  But that starting point sets the tone for the exploration and almost inevitably the implementation as well - the execution plan that results is something like "We're going to SEO our site then we're going to get active on social media."

Essentially the linear approach so essential to efficient manufacturing is applied to the process of industrial marketing - and the initiative is conceived and implemented as a series of discreet steps.

And that inherently limits the effectiveness.

B2B marketing like a Long Island Ice Tea

Ever order a LI Ice Tea?  If they're made right the result is sweet, smooth and potent (just what you'd love your marketing to be.)  But if it's made poorly, it's simply an unappealing waste of spirits.  And inbound marketing campaigns are similar.

Imagine sitting down at a bar and ordering an Ice Tea and being presented with a series of five shots, a bit of lemonade and a tablespoonful of coke.  Not only would it be absurd, but you would also consume the ingredients in a particular order based on your preferences.  Maybe you're a tequila fan; or perhaps rum is your favorite.  Or maybe you'd simply sip the lemonade for enjoyment and grimace while you down the rest.

Either way, they are two very different experiences built on the same elements.  One the synthesis of ingredients - balanced, smooth and a product completely different in character, effect and impact than the ingredients alone.  The other...well you know.

Give me some gin (seo) and then chase it with a shot of vodka (social media)

It doesn't quite work, does it?  But if you'd never actually experienced the combination you simply wouldn't know any differently.  And what's worse is that many of the folks who run manufacturing businesses have been promised smooth and measurable business results from SEO, social media, or another fad du jour, only to be left with the harsh burn of poorly balanced spirits.

So that's the challenge - for folks who have been promised so much, for so long, by so many that purport to have the recipe for industrial marketing magic, how can they sift through the charlatans to find the real marketing mixologists?

Here's a simple five point checklist:
  1. Ignore anyone who says that XXX is the key - a mono-dimensional program fails
  2. Disregard folks who lack substantive B2B industrial business experience - they simply can't empathize with you OR your buyers
  3. Discount anyone who doesn't insist on exploring your target markets & buyers and challenging your assumptions - you may be right, but their perspective is myopic
  4. Cut short your conversation with any "agency" which claims that they don't need to understand your technology - no one will understand it intuitively as you do, but if they don't have the manufacturing background to generally understand your technology and thereby extrapolate the value it represents to buyers, they'll never drive strong results for you
  5. Be very, very skeptical of any team which doesn't push back on your product centric approach (I don't know you, but if you're a manufacturer I know that your marketing is based on your products!) - it's an 80s model that is ineffective today.

B2B marketing is about making businesses better

As a B2B manufacturing company that's the essence of successful inbound marketing.  An integrated program will help those seeking solutions to business challenges to learn of your solution; understand how it will help them; envision how it would fit into their operations and consistently supply insight.

But a series of "check the box" steps, even if it looks remarkably like "inbound marketing" will generally squander resources without benefit to you or the prospects whom you might have helped.

Do it right!

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