As an experienced B2B marketing agency, we thrive on innovative ideas and are always on the lookout for new trends, strategies, and approaches to help our clients better connect with their target audience. We are unabashed proponents of content marketing as we’ve continually seen companies succeed when they follow a carefully crafted content strategy.
Just as we are always on the hunt for new, innovative content marketing ideas for B2B brands, there are several old, outdated content marketing tactics that are cringeworthy and we wish would just disappear.
In this article, we identify these outdated content marketing tactics and explore why we want them to ride off into the sunset (and possibly off a cliff).
Sales Pitches Disguised as Blogs
Now, as marketers, we understand that sales and revenue generation are the ultimate objective for the B2B brands we work with. And it’s true that B2B content marketing is often a means to achieve that lead generation goal. However, the main goal of content marketing is educating the end-user (aka. your target market).
A common misstep that we see companies make is to create a blog post that is really just a sales pitch parading around as a blog post. It’s ok, even recommended, to include a call-to-action in a blog post to schedule a consultation or request a quote but it’s not ok to craft a sales pitch and slap it on a blog, calling it thought leadership.
Your target market is looking for information about your products or services. The information they need can be a variety of things: use cases, results expected, how to leverage your services, how to explain your product’s usefulness to their internal team, etc. When they are looking for these bits of information, they aren’t looking for a sales pitch. Remember, prospects (and people in general) are inherently self-centered and will only read something if it’s directly useful to them. They aren’t ready to discuss their purchase yet – they just want relevant information to guide their decision-making. Blog posts that are disguised sales pitches often go unread and, worst-case scenario, turn your prospect away or towards a competitor that has the information they need.
Sales pitches can be woven in throughout your B2B website pages, but they don’t belong on your blog.
Sponsored White Papers Without Substance
Has this ever happened to you? You see a white paper that is marketed to offer you X Y Z information, so you trade your contact information for access to the white paper. Sadly, when you get the pdf in your inbox or access it after the form completion, it doesn’t deliver the X Y Z information expressed in the summary and/or only gives basic information.
What. A. Bummer.
Well-intentioned B2B marketers often think that crafting a white paper is the ultimate in lead generation. However, these white papers are only effective when they deliver what they say they will deliver and they include something of value to the reader. Prospects don’t want a bait and switch with content. In fact, if the bait and switch strategy is employed, it will actually diminish your brand reputation, not strengthen it. If you don’t have enough content or valuable information to include in a white paper, don’t create one. A white paper that has no valuable takeaways is just an empty shell.
The most effective white papers out there take a significant investment of resources to create. They require input from a thought leader(s), professional copywriting, and a polished design from a designer experienced in digital mediums. When a white paper is slapped together from limited resources, it shows and can ultimately damage your company’s credibility with your target market.
Read more: B2B content marketing strategies that work.
Bait and Switch Social Posts
We’ve seen very talented copywriters and marketers who are absolute whizzes at coming up with enticing social media posts. However just as with white papers, we’ve also seen marketers out there employing bait and switch, sometimes synonymous with clickbait, posts for social media. Just as the term implies, these types of posts strongly appeal to the target market, but when the person clicks on the post, it’s not a consistent experience.
The term ‘clickbait’ is well-known in popular media and is something consumers have to be vigilant about on a daily basis. As this tactic appears to work in B2C marketing, less savvy B2B marketers have employed this approach to get more clicks on their marketing efforts. Similar to the previous two tactics discussed, it’s a major credibility-crusher. The folks employing these tactics only care about clicks and likes. They don’t care about building a relationship with the end-user and nurturing them along the path to lead conversion.
Not every content marketing tactic will generate leads, but these types of tactics make a company look spammy and disingenuous.
Webinars without Value
This unsavory type of content creation grew up out of a legitimate lead generation strategy. Webinars can be a fantastic way to connect with your prospects and partners, educate them about your industry, and teach them how to use certain products or services effectively. However, in the rush to “host a webinar asap,” there has been an abundance of webinars that don’t have any value to the end-user. They end up being a fruitless exercise just to say they have a webinar.
Out of the last 10 webinars I’ve personally signed up for, only one provided any valuable information. The others either weren’t as described, were so basic they could have been a 10-minute recording, or were just a group of salespeople talking about themselves – almost as if they were oblivious to the viewers. If your webinar attendees don’t walk away from your webinar with at least 2 – 3 actionable ideas or new learnings – your webinar has no substance. Additionally, prospects are busy people so the longer the webinar does not mean it’s better. A 15 to 30-minute webinar is much more efficient and respectful of prospects’ time.
A webinar is not a chance to run through a sales deck. It’s a chance to share your thought leadership with your viewers, explore industry trends, and answer any questions that they may have. Over the past two years, many people have gotten burned out on webinars so it’s crucial to put the work in and deliver content of substance to your webinar attendees. If you do so, word will spread and your next webinar will have even stronger attendance. If you don’t, word will spread and the only webinar attendees will be your internal staff.
What Does Work in B2B Content Marketing?
What works in B2B content marketing varies by industry, company, and target audience. We’ve even found that what works for one company won’t work for a similar company in the same industry. Why? It’s the intention and effort behind the content creation.
The most successful, effective content pieces are strategic, thoughtful, and carefully crafted with continual check-in points through the creation process that asks, “What does the viewer/reader/registrant get out of this? What do they care about?”