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3 B2B Content Marketing Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

September 27, 2012 No Comments
Mark Evertz
Mark Evertz

Like many of you, I’ve been a “B2B content marketer” for most of my professional life and well before there was a buzzy little category for it. I thought sharing my hardest lessons would be helpful or at least reassuring.

Here are my top three B2B content marketing blunders in the order that they painfully re-enter my mind. If I can help you avoid similar content marketing mistakes or craft a reasonably intelligent sounding email to your boss to make it sound like your gaffe was intentional, be sure to reach out to me on Twitter @MarkAEvertz.

Without further ado … my B2B content marketing blunders you should avoid.

1. I didn’t adequately communicate the potential of content marketing to bosses, bean counters and bombastic revenue generators – and how long it takes to do it right.

This one really hurt to write. The memories are fresh and the wounds are deep.

I’ve weathered bosses who bailed on multi-medium B2B content marketing plans after one rehashed whitepaper, battled with sales executives who wanted to replace me with call center interns and CFOs who didn’t understand that content without a sometimes costly distribution strategy was akin to putting up a billboard in a desert.

Survival tactic: If you are in this position now, my advice is find competitor examples of content creation, content discovery and content distribution that produced results, especially examples that show performance and revenue data tied to the campaign. Then prep for a final knockout presentation to all numbskulls and naysayers. Be specific. Be convincing. Be armed with data to substantiate your claims. Good sources to build your case are MarketingSherpa, MarketingExperiments, MarketingProfs, The Content Marketing Institute, Hubspot and Marketing Automation vendors such as Eloqua.

If that doesn’t work: Find a new job or someone in the C-Suite who has your back. Don’t beat your head against a brick wall for people who are too entrenched in pre-web tactics or too panicked by immediate financial woes to embrace a longer-term content marketing strategy.  At best you’ll survive, bloodied and  with a monster headache. At worst, you’ll be replaced by the fast-dialing intern.

2. Shooting my mouth off with cool ideas without a draft execution plan.

This one has happened more than I care to admit. I’ve witnessed some really smart, high-performing, content-driven campaigns in my life and most of them in the last five years:  online games tailored to B2B personas, business-relevant digital experiences that helped the viewer take action instead of blow off work, and even Oprah-buzzworthy concepts in the B2C world like the  award-winning Old Spice campaign  (virtual hat-tip to @evilspinmeister)  that helped people solve problems. My blunder was popping off about what was possible to anyone who would listen (clients included) despite the fact that most of “my ideas” required high-caliber creative talent or a multi-million dollar marketing budget to pull off.

Survival Tactic: Shut up, unless you can either do it yourself or with your current team within existing budget parameters.

If that doesn’t work: And your boss or client says “Great idea,” you better have friends who owe you a favor or an ability to fund a test or pilot campaign of your vision within reach of your budget and talent.

3. Tying my content marketing strategy to what is “hot” instead of what “helps.”

Admit it. You pushed for an infographic pimping your product features instead of data that showed your company and its products on the right side of trends. You suggested a video satirizing an already satirical “Saturday Night Live” sketch in hopes of capturing buyer attention, without a plan for capturing anything else.

Yup. Me too.

Survival Tactic: Let’s stop doing this. Let’s make a pact to only create information tailored to the humans and companies we think can benefit from what we sell. Then, let’s write, film, record, design and distribute this information in a way that meets someone at the time of need, helping them move them from perplexed to prospect to purchaser. At LeftBrain DGA, we refer to this as Buyer-Centric Demand Generation.

 

OK … I’ve bared my soul. Now it’s your turn. What’s the biggest B2B content marketing miscue (or non-B2B) you made and what did you learn from it? Tell me below or on Twitter using the hashtag #ContentMarketingMiscues.

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