8 Most Common B2B Marketing Mistakes
B2B marketing mistakes can kill campaigns and response rates, and are usually made by two kinds of marketers. Let's start with the second-worst kind of marketer, the “conscious uneducated.” An “uneducated” marketer is one who does not know the fundamentals of direct response marketing. “Conscious” means that, to their credit, they know that they don’t know.
A typical example is a marketer who, asked by the boss to create a direct mail campaign, realizes he knows nothing about direct mail, because he has never done a single direct mail promotion. So he begins a study of educational materials on direct mail and may hire a consultant, freelancer, or agency with direct mail experience to help.
And the worst kind of marketer to be is an “unconscious uneducated” marketer. Not only does she not know direct marketing basics; she doesn’t even know what she doesn’t know.
Both of these groups repeatedly make these eight common B2B marketing mistakes, and here's how you can avoid them:
Mistake No. 1: No Response Device
Every lead-generating promotion should include a response device. In a banner ad or email, this is a hyperlink to a landing page. That landing page should be congruent with the email or ad copy. For instance, don’t offer a free server evaluation in your email, then drive traffic to your website’s home page or a landing page that doesn’t shout “free server evaluation” in the headline.
Direct mail should include a reply element. Even if you don’t want a reply form mailed or faxed back to you, include a response form in your direct mail package.
For instance, in a #10 package, have a 4-inch by 9-inch response device. Print the landing page URL, toll-free phone number and a quick-response code in black ink on canary yellow stock, to make it stand out. On a self-mailer, put the call to action (CTA) in a box with a bold dashed or certificate-style border to make it stand out.
Mistake No. 2: Wrong Language
In your copy, use the same language your prospects use when discussing your product or its application. Keep in mind that technical terms and jargon are not the same thing. Technical terms are legitimate words or phrases that precisely describe the product or its application. Jargon, on the other hand, is language more complex than the idea it serves to communicate.
Be wary of clichés and hackneyed phrases, because while marketers use them often, it’s not how prospects think. For instance, engineers may look for process equipment that’s reliable, modular or energy efficient. But they don’t walk around thinking, “Let’s buy a widget that’s state of the art.” Oh, they may in fact want one, but that’s not how they talk.
Mistake No. 3: Wrong Reviewers
There is an increasing trend to have copy reviewed by more people than ever, in particular people who are not qualified to do so — either because they don’t have the industry, technical, sales, or marketing background to make critiques that are based on knowledge rather than merely likes or dislikes reflecting their personal preference.
Mistake No. 4: Guided by Subjective Judgment
Know the rules and specifications for good blog posts, subject lines, offers, headlines and copy. Judge the promotion against these guidelines and not just on whether you “like it” or not. For instance, the “4 Us” are a sensible way to evaluate subject lines and headlines: Does it say something unique? Is it ultra-specific? Does it present a useful benefit or advantage? Is there a sense of urgency? Educated marketers know these rules; uneducated marketers don’t.
Mistake No. 5: Not Knowing What You Can afford to Spend to Acquire Customers
The uneducated marketer calculates maximum customer acquisition budget based on the price of the product — the revenue from the order the promotion generates. So if the product costs $100, and the seller wants a 100 percent profit, her maximum marketing spend is $50.
On the other hand, the educated marketer bases maximum acquisition cost not on the initial order but on the average lifetime customer value (LTCV) of a customer. For instance, if the average order is $100, customers order one unit monthly and remain customers for five years, the LTCV is $100/month X 12 months X five years = $6,000.
If you spend 10 percent of LTCV, you can afford $600 vs. the $50 budget of your uneducated competitor. So you can buy more online ads and send out more emails, resulting in more orders and customers.
Mistake No. 6: Pristine Graphics
Pretty, slick graphics are what upper management loves. But “ugly” marketing, especially when selling to farmers, oil patch workers, plant maintenance engineers and other prospects with “boots on the ground,” frequently wins the day. Try testing an ugly vs. a beautiful piece and see which wins.
Mistake No. 7: Focusing on the Product
Uneducated marketers start with the product — its features, specifications and benefits.
Educated marketers start with the prospects — what buyers want, desire, feel, fear and care about — their most urgent needs and finding solutions to the big problems keeping them up nights with worry. Then, by connecting your product’s capabilities to the prospect’s needs, you make more sales.
Qualifying prospects is more than asking them lots of firmographic questions such as title, types of products purchased or application. On your landing page, you should have three qualifying check-box options, as shown in the right column of the image above, sourced from my B2B handbook’s landing page. The three options should be to request a lead magnet, product information or a quote, estimate or initial appointment. Those visitors who click the last two items are more qualified than those who just want the free lead magnet.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.