You’ll find a ton of advice online and offline about how to market business-to-business (B2B). However, the things you should avoid as a B2B marketer aren’t always as clear.
Google states that it handles more than two trillion searches every year. While not all of those searches are business-based, the figure shows the sheer volume of data on the internet and how difficult it is to shout over the clamoring crowd. If you want a successful marketing campaign, you first need to know what mistakes to avoid.
Here are the nine deadly sins of B2B marketing, how to avoid them and what to do instead.
1. Being Set in Your Ways
One of the quickest ways of falling behind the competition is doing things a certain way because “they’ve always been done that way.” Just because a marketing campaign worked in 1990 doesn’t mean it works today. Technology changes at a rapid pace, and so does the way people respond to different types of marketing.
Repeating the same marketing methods without trying anything new is a recipe for failure. Consumers want entertainment, and presenting the same tired things is boring. Instead, stay on top of new trends in the industry. Study what campaigns your competitors run. Think about popular culture and trending topics, such as big events and new design methods.
2. Not Knowing Your Weaknesses
Once you’ve gained experience as a marketer, it’s easy to recognize your strengths in the field. You probably developed a lot of skills along the way that newer marketers don’t possess. Your managers may sing your praises. Unfortunately, you’ll never grow and expand into new B2B marketing methods if someone doesn’t push you. If management doesn’t push you to greater heights, you have to drive yourself toward improvement.
Inventory the areas you need more development in. Take outside courses, read online articles and seek out a mentor so that you can overcome your weaknesses. If you aren’t very good at graphic design, but your company calls on you to help create print ads, it’s time to brush up those skills, for example.
3. Ignoring Public Events
Out of all the marketing activities B2B marketers engage in, events drive the most leads with a 68 percent success rate. Ignoring public events may cost you most of your potential leads, as they offer an opportunity to meet like-minded business owners and connect with potential buyers. However, setting up at a trade show does involve some expense. You must rent booth space, secure banners, and promotional items and pay for travel costs to and from the event. Even a local event costs a little money.
To gain the most from your time at the event, pay attention to your message and whether it speaks to your target audience. Seek out ways to foster engagement beyond the actual event, such as adding a hashtag to your signage or gathering emails for a newsletter.
4. Neglecting Your Website
One of the biggest frustrations for B2B users is the inability to easily find the information they need on your website. Poor navigation and elements in uncommon locations, such as a contact button halfway down the page instead of to the far right in the navigation bar, work together to confuse the user.
To keep your website as up to date and usable as possible, regularly update the site. Check your user analytics and figure out what areas are causing issues for your users, such as where they suddenly leave. You can utilize heat maps to see which areas of the site get used and which get ignored. Consider which devices people access your site from, such as mobile devices, and ensure that your site is compatible with them.
5. Failing to Network
Marketing isn’t a one-time effort or a focus on one element. Networking with other business owners and marketers helps develop skills needed to come up with unique marketing campaigns. Other business owners often know what worked for their audience and can offer guidance on what might work for yours.
Networking takes time, so many brands ignore this aspect of their growth, especially as their business gets larger. Take the time to network with relevant marketers in your industry. By doing so, you’ll learn about the latest trends and make connections that drive change.
6. Not Investing in Automation
Many tools allow marketers to automate the tasks they do over and over again. Failing to invest in automation can throw a cog in the wheel of your marketing vehicle. By the year 2023, industry experts predict spending for marketing automation to hit $25.1 billion.
At a minimum, B2B marketers should invest in automating social media posts and email marketing campaigns. These tools can make your marketing more productive and allow you to spend your time on more creative endeavors and figuring out how to better reach your target audience.
7. Overlooking Testing
Failing to run A/B tests on your marketing campaigns means you’re missing out on a lot of vital information. The data you gather from split testing can let you know what’s working on your landing pages, what isn’t and how users respond to various ads.
If most of your traffic from Facebook bounces away from your landing page, you either need adjustments on your landing page, or your target audience needs tweaking.
8. Not Being a Numbers Person
Marketing people are often more creative than mathematical. It’s easy to ignore the numbers involved in marketing. However, if you don’t keep track of how successful a campaign is, or you fail to crunch the number of sales resulting from the campaign, it’ll be difficult to know if you’re on track toward meeting your annual goals. You’ll also waste a lot of resources throwing ads at the same sources that aren’t performing well in the first place.
Instead, track the numerical results of each campaign, and pay attention to which ideas do well and which ones should go.
9. Letting Fear Overtake You
In such a highly competitive field as marketing, it’s easy to fall into a rut and do only those things you know work. However, without room for a bit of creativity, your growth will stagnate. Your creativity will suffer if you let fear be the driving force behind the campaigns you run.
Find inspiration in the work of designers and marketers in your industry and outside of it. Don’t be afraid to try something new here and there. If it doesn’t work, you can retire that campaign and try something different.
Become a Marketing Saint
Avoiding the nine deadly sins of marketing is an excellent place to start if you want to be one of the good guys in your industry. However, sainthood is difficult to attain, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself that you don’t enjoy the process. Coming up with an exciting new campaign should be fun and rewarding. If you focus only on perfection, you’ll miss the best part of the marketing journey.
Lexie Lu is a UX content strategist and designer. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media and branding. Please subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.