Our B2B Marketing is solid - we already do all that "content" stuff

Posted by Ed Marsh on Nov 26, 2012 7:30:00 AM

The Paradox of Content Marketing Success

Content marketing is gaining traction.  

In practice that is unalloyed great news for B2B marketers. Those who embrace best practices and diligently craft a fabric woven on a warp of amazing content will generate really remarkable results.

But as a buzzword it has potentially disastrous potential. Well meaning but ignorant interpretations abound and self-anointed experts are being birthed at an alarming rate.

content marketingEach "expert" who fails to effectively structure an inbound marketing program jeopardizes the future viability of a company which will move forward to compete in increasingly competitive markets at a distinct disadvantage. And in each case that will be tragic because the desire was there, but opportunity will have been squandered through poor execution.

Collectively the risk is even greater. A small number of companies that have realized the potential of well crafted inbound marketing will proselytize regarding the benefits of inbound marketing. But a much larger group that casually implemented a poorly conceived or incomplete program, and received commensurate returns, will join in a chorus of frustration - discounting the potential for B2B marketing success.

"We're already doing that"

If you sell to businesses you've certainly heard this before. And you've probably thought to yourself. "No way. You don't even have a clue what I'm talking about."

Now there are two possibilities in that situation. The prospect may be right. Perhaps they're doing something that is similar to what you propose, in a way that is good enough for them. Alternatively, you could be right. They may be just blowing you off, or perhaps they think they are leveraging a similar solution to good effect without really understanding the nuance or even the foundational principles of the concept.  

So assuming you have at least adequate sales skills, and still can't overcome the myopic intransigence of the prospect, what's at play?

If you're selling to huge companies you could simply be bumping into junior execs or administrators who validate the "Peter Principle" or are protecting their turf. But if you're speaking to senior executives in SMBs, you're probably caught in a sensitivity trap!

Extroverts, sensitivity and recognition of threats

What we're really talking about here is a threat. In the case of a company adopting a comprehensive, strategically sound inbound marketing program the threat to which they would respond would be one of diminished marketing effectiveness, stagnating sales and enterprise decay.

But what if......the sort of person most likely to boldly start, grow and manage a business is the sort least likely to intuit or even account for subtle and uncertain threats? That's precisely one of the hypothesis of Susan Cain's (@susancain) book Quiet. Controversial? Certainly. Conclusive? Perhaps not. Make sense based on personal experience? Probably. The hard charging business founder who has launched despite the horrific odds and persevered through situations which would have brought others to their knees simply can't afford to worry about ghosts behind trees. And therefore they overlook potential legitimate threats too, and discount seemingly insignificant differences in approaches to problems.

Inbound marketing's "Achiles' Heel"

Therein lies the biggest risk to inbound marketing success. When executed properly the payoff in B2B marketing success is huge. But if it's not done right, the payoff is negligible. And too many extroverted, 'insensitive' (don't get pissed off, read the book instead to understand) types can point to a couple activities (maybe occasional press releases published on a website under the title of 'blog', or a company LinkedIn page or Twitter handle) and dismissively assert "We already do that."

But you can be different! Seriously! Don't let your hard charging business blinders obscure the seemingly minor details that are critically important. In inbound marketing "the Devil (really) is in the details." 

And a good place to start is with an easy to digest overview of how your business sales and marketing environment is evolving. Understanding where we came from, where we are and where we're going is critical to mapping the route to success. And a step by step strategy goes a long way toward demystifying something that is far more complicated than you imagined.

So change your tune! Instead of "We already do that" try responding with "We have to do that!" and embrace the potential of B2B marketing success.



About the Author: Ed Marsh is co-founder of Consilium Global Business Advisors, an international marketing consulting agency focused on developing strategic global business development and channel programs.

Topics: small business marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, b2b lead generation

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