Why is B2B Marketing So Boring?

According to a WHM survey, 48% of customers have described B2B marketing as “boring”! 

Another separate survey of technology, financial services, and professional services leaders found 82% of marketing leaders find B2B marketing boring and repetitive.

Put it all together and there’s a clear picture of customers seeing B2B marketing as – and we’re paraphrasing here – a total snooze-fest.

SO, WHAT’S GOING ON?

It’s well-known that B2B marketing can be a lot more restrictive in terms of content and tone when compared to B2C. There is a general expectation that B2B brands maintain an air of professionalism at all times, and while B2C brands are often lauded for jumping on – or indeed, starting – the latest viral trends and topics, B2B brands doing this could actually damage their credibility and alienate their audience.

That doesn’t mean that B2B brands can’t show a bit of personality in their content. It just means they have to be a little more creative and actually craft something their audience wants to see, rather than simply going along with what’s popular.

This attitude was reflected in the study’s results, with 53% of B2B marketers blaming a risk-averse culture in their companies, where breaking the mould is the exception and not the rule. A further 33% feel their company simply didn’t understand brand building.

COMMON PITFALLS

B2B buyer journeys require more touch points, and with up to 7 people on average involved in the buying process, there’s often a more rational, thought-out customer journey than you would expect with B2C.

Because of this, though, too many marketers fall into the trap of creating bland content that’s designed to tick sales boxes, and not to appeal to prospects on a human level.

Research from FT Longitude found 5 key pitfalls of B2B content:

      • Reports are too long
      • The conclusions are too predictable
      • The writing is too dry or bland
      • There’s too much of it
      • It’s too commercial or ‘sales-y’

All of this points to the earlier conclusion that B2B marketing is too risk-averse. What’s most striking of all is that this research was conducted in 2016, and still rings worryingly true today.

This is how you get superficial thought leadership statements like: “2024 is the year that we harness data to improve the industry!”

Like, okay…but HOW?!

And speaking of thought leadership…

“BORED” LEADERSHIP

Arguably the biggest culprit for the issues we’ve mentioned is thought leadership.

Thought leadership can be an extremely useful creative tool for engaging with your audience. The problem is that too many creators don’t appreciate:

a) That thought leadership should complement your existing content strategy, but remain separate from it.
b) That telling your audience about you is just as important as telling them your opinions.

Conflating content marketing with thought leadership is one of the biggest issues here. There are exceptions of course, but generally content marketing is about driving conversions, sales, follows, sign-ups etc. while thought leadership is more about brand positioning and building credibility.

This, crucially, is where thought leadership diverges from the rest of your content.

Audiences want thought leadership to contain original and well-evidenced points of view that allow them to solve problems and have better conversations with their clients and partners – they do NOT want sales material. If you want to give your latest product a push, start a product-based campaign and let that do the selling instead.

By not understanding these principles, brands are churning out thought leadership content that’s too salesy, devoid of personality, and barely scratches the surface when it comes to the subject matter.

THE (BIG) UPSIDE

With 55% of buyers moving on from content if it doesn’t pique their interest within the first minute, there’s a huge missed opportunity for B2B.

If you can learn from their mistakes, your content could plug the gaps that other brands are missing, instantly setting you apart from the competition. Brand loyalty isn’t nearly as prevalent in B2B marketing, but you can build a following simply by providing the discussions, conversations and solutions that your competitors aren’t.

The way to do this is simple. Look at your buyer personas, your customers and followers, and then try to find out what industry content they’re most likely consuming. If you build a big enough picture, you can work out what’s missing and start from there.

SO, HOW CAN YOU KEEP IT INTERESTING?

1. Keep it brief – Keep your content as succinct as possible – attention spans are getting shorter, and your target audience might not have a lot of time on their hands!

2. Embrace creative storytelling – sometimes you need more than text to deliver that emotional gut-punch. Marketing is about experimentation, so lose the fear and try something different!

3. Put the real-life needs of your readers front and centre – Remember that your marketing is about them. Do your research, and create content your audience actually cares about.

4. Ask your customers tell your story for you – There is no – repeat – NO substitute for social proof. Get one of your customers to explain how your brand helped solve a problem, and others will sit up and take note!

5. Talk like a normal person – Remember studying Shakespeare at school? Nobody wants to go through that again, so don’t punish your audience with jargony waffle. Speak plainly and directly to them.

Could your marketing be doing more to grab – and hold – your prospect’s attention? Get in touch to see how we could help. 

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