4 Common Mistakes in B2B Marketing

So what do B2B companies get wrong when they charge into the marketing ID-100267774arena?

In this post, we’ll look at four of the frequent missteps we marketers make, including producing content we think customers want, relying only on inbound marketing, and why focusing too heavily on lead generation can be costly.

Also, you’ll discover the surprising statistic on how much cash companies allocate to their marketing departments.

Let’s start with the biggest blunder:

1) Never test and measure marketing campaigns

One of the biggest puzzles I find is what marketers say they want versus the action they take to achieve that want.  Possibly the greatest contradiction is a majority of  B2B marketers claim they wish to measure the response to their campaigns, but only one-third measure and calculate their return on investment.  Even when they track their initiatives, a surprising number of marketing departments never share the information with the executive level.

Why aren’t marketers persistent on measurement activity?

Financial resources appear to be a prominent factor. Recent stats show nearly 70 percent of B2B organizations allot five percent or less of revenue on marketing.

Hmmm. This is troubling. I suspect it’s because of an enduring mindset that marketing is an expense and not an investment in driving growth. 

This lack of tracking leaves marketers confused about what works and what doesn’t. When asked by Webmarketing123 which promotional channel was their primary revenue generator, 32 percent of B2B marketers answered, “Not sure.” Yikes!

2) Never try print marketing

Digital marketing is so pervasive that it seems to marketers as the only game in town. But print has advantages. 

For one, there’s less of it than there used to be, so while your email competes with others for a customer’s attention, sending marketing material through snail mail helps you stand out from other companies. 

Most companies post their white papers and case studies as pdfs on their website. Instead, why not carefully select a few high-quality prospects and send them a printed copy of your content marketing pieces?

Today’s printing technology has made it possible to create personalized marketing documents and produce in smaller quantities than previously available with traditional offset printing.

Print can deliver a good return on investment. The Direct Marketing Association conducted research that reveals that direct mail ROI outperforms digital marketing.

Studies also suggest you can boost the impact of your digital campaigns by including complementary direct mail.  Research shows elevated open rates and increases in average sale orders than using online marketing alone.

In Direct Marketing News, Richard Rushing, senior director of digital strategy at agency Epsilon remarked, “Brands with a compelling message or offer that link direct mail and digital can expect a 10 to 30 percent uplift in conversion when combining the two channels.”

Here’s a new print approach to try.  The website Minibuk  lets you produce 3.5″ by 5″ booklets. They’re small enough to mail in a business envelope or carry easily for distribution at trade shows.  Your booklet can contain text and graphics of a presentation, webinar, case study, special report or just about any other type of marketing content. 

 3) Too little focus on customer retention

 You may have heard the business maxim that 80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers. But is this true? Yes, according to research conducted by marketing firm Gartner Group. The statistic proves the importance of keeping your customers happy to prevent defection to your competitors.

However, as you can see on the B2B Marketer’s Accountability chart below, customer retention doesn’t get as much focus as lead generation. This stat is mystifying considering marketing to current customers is significantly cheaper than acquiring new customers.  And according to Marketing Metrics, “The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.”

Customer retention ranks near the bottom among B2B marketers in medium-size companies.

Even marketers give themselves poor grades in this area: 70 percent rated their retention activities as either “average, poor, or needs improvement.”

To boost retention, you should audit your current content marketing assets. As well as creating content for customers, look at what you have that you could repurpose.  What could you use to upsell, cross-sell, or keep your company top of mind? How about sending customers case studies that introduce products and services they have yet to purchase?

4) Producing content for marketing channels your prospects rarely use.

A major mistake in content marketing is relying too heavily on what your competitors create. Unless you have a spy working in a competitor’s firm, you don’t know for sure which of their content is successful. While every industry has best practices, nothing beats testing the waters with your prospects before producing a load of content in a channel they don’t access.

Choosing the wrong marketing channel for distributing content can waste valuable time and resources.*

For example, buyers from diverse business sectors may have different preferences on content formats.  A study published by Eccolo Media on B2B influencers and decision-makers in the tech sector revealed:

 “More than half of respondents (57%) said they had looked at product brochures/data sheets from B2B technology vendors in the past six months, the most engagement with any content type.”

This may be surprising considering all the attention that digital marketing receives, but when you put tech prospects under the microscope, it makes sense.  Where a consumer might rely on a friend’s product recommendation in a social media post, a technology buyer requires in-depth details datasheets provide, particularly if they need to ensure compatibility with current corporate systems.


Marketing is complex, more so than many people realize — even marketers.  It has to appeal to both logic and emotions of your prospect and customers. That’s no easy task.  For a B2B marketer, you have the added burden of trying to persuade both influencers and decision makers. You’re unlikely to hit the bull’s-eye every time.

Making mistakes shouldn’t embarrass you, as they’re crucial to helping you see what appeals to your target audience and what doesn’t. Mistakes can serve as the best marketing intelligence you could ever hope to uncover!


*[Infographic] Why are B2B Content Strategies Important? – CMO Council.  

Stop sign image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Lifecycle Marketing: It’s for Customers and Companies

Sales_GrowthI’ve written in the past about the importance of lifecycle marketing to your customers rather than just focusing on new customer acquisition, which is always more expensive than reaching out to clients you already have.

Marketo’s blog published a related post “Why Marketing Doesn’t End at the Sale – Customer Obsessed Lifecycle Marketing.” 

On the flip side, I also wrote a post about lifecycle marketing for the stages of a company rather than for customers. You can read it here.

David Coyne

David Coyne

David Coyne is a B2B copywriter and marketing consultant with 25 years experience in the business-to-business sector.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus