The most common explanation for a lack of engagement in the B2B space is that it’s just the nature of the market – “What we do just isn’t that interesting!”
There are so many problems with this statement but I’ll just boil it down to one sentence – There are no boring markets, only bad marketers.
Here are some of the most effective ways to undermine your efforts:
- Put the channel first – one of the common differences I notice between consumer brands and B2B brands is that the former tend to appreciate the need for a clear content strategy that feeds every channel in their mix, whilst B2B organisations typically like to focus on the channel itself, seeking to develop independent strategies for email, webinars, LinkedIn, etc, as if they don’t overlap or depend on the same qualities. The result of this is two fold – firstly, the activity, no matter how good, is likely to represent a series of disjointed tactics rather than one coherent strategy. Secondly, it’s really inefficient. In fact, for every channel you add you are having to muster all the same effort, rather than it just plugging into the one overarching machine.
- Create too much, promote too little – there is a tendency for brands to believe they need to create more content than is really necessary. Far better to create small quantities of extraordinary content that actually deserves to be seen, than just churning out crap for the sake of it. To be fair, this is just as true of many consumer brands, but where B2B brands tend to exacerbate the problem is through their lack of promotional budget. Consumer brands are used to having to spend money on advertising, but for most B2B brands it feels unnatural. In fact, more often than not they won’t even have a budget allocated to it, which all then adds to the inefficiency. Let’s illustrate with some numbers – if it takes me 5 hours to create a great piece of content and I value my time at £100 an hour, then the cost of that piece of content was £500, so if it’s then only seen by 10 people (due to a lack of advertising) that’s £50 per person. On the other hand, if I spent £30 on advertising via LinkedIn, it may now be seen by 1000 people (and the right kind!), bringing the cost down to 53p. You see the problem!
- Make it all about yourself – it’s an obvious one to highlight so I nearly didn’t include it, but B2B brands are so guilty of this that it needs a mention. The point is not to discourage you from talking about your brand or product at all – clearly that’s the single most important part of the customer journey – but that if you do it too early then you’ll have lost your audience’s attention before the journey has even begun. We must always start on the terms of our audience. So if I’m a law firm targeting the advertising industry, for example, I should start my content strategy by asking “What do decision makers within advertising agencies care about”, and sadly “My law firm” probably isn’t high on the list of answers. Instead, I’ll need to focus in on the half dozen items that are really keeping these people up at night, and when I have their attention, I can then consider how best to find the intersection between their world and my own.
- Failure to proactively engage others – I guess this is an extension of the previous point. It’s not enough to simply talk about stuff you believe your audience is interested, but you actually need to have a conversation with them. You need to comment on their updates, participate in group conversations and share cool things that will resonate with that audience whilst adding your own unique commentary. This stuff is really time consuming and as a social halfwit it’s the part I personally find the most challenging, but it is literally the bedrock of social media.
Avoid these mistakes and there should be no limit to what your content can achieve. Unless of course it really is just a boring market 🙂