Four Mistakes Business Marketers Need to Avoid 

Two woman looking at a lap top computer

It should go without saying that business marketers should try to avoid every mistake and always execute perfectly. That’s like hitting a home run every time you’re up, or acing every test you take. But we see these four mistakes on a somewhat regular basis, making them perfect fodder for this month’s article. 

Here they are: 

  1. Confusing Consumer marketing with Business marketing 

The most direct parallel to this phenomenon is self-diagnosing medical problems by researching on the internet. Yes, that tactic will often get you close. But there are always factors that require an expert, in this analogy a doctor. And it’s not just that the outcome (your health) is critical, there is a much broader perspective and expertise you get when you consult an expert. 

We see business owners and some marketers do something similar. Since Consumer marketing is so big and pervasive, it gets a lot of attention. So when you do your own research, you’ll get a lot of consumer-oriented tactics in the results. (An example would be the buzz around teenage influencers on TikTok). One big factor is related to expectations. Some business owners will expect consumer-like results from an entirely different target audience and, most notably, a marketing spend that is infinitesimal in comparison to the big brands. And those consumer brands have been spending big for years. They’ve laid the groundwork for their current results, but this often gets overlooked, leading to a performance mismatch across multiple dimensions that we’ll summarize as a lack of patience. 

Naturally, good marketers will know these things and work to convince their clients (internal or external) how it works. 

  1. Ignoring the lessons of Consumer marketing that apply to Business marketing 

However, it’s important not to ignore what’s going on in consumer marketing. There may be tactics that can be adjusted to fit your business marketing objectives, or good ideas or concepts that can be woven into your marketing plan. 

The key is to identify the parallels or points of cross-over. To do so, business marketers will need to stay close to the trends in consumer marketing. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that a point of cross-over may be just one technological advancement away in the digital space. Being aware can give you first (or early)-mover advantage when it does occur. 

  1. Treating an old idea like a new idea 

Perhaps we should call this buzzword-generated marketing. In any technology-driven environment, such as marketing, there are new applications and advancements all the time. These advancements are often promoted with use cases that incorporate the modern vernacular and a modern set of metrics to define success. 

Some innovations are indeed extraordinary and perhaps game changing. But beware of these two red flags; statements that the rules are different this time and there is no clear linkage to sales. 

Let’s look at a specific “new” idea: account-based marketing. This concept has been quite popular in recent years, to the point of driving UI updates to popular CRM and Marketing Automation platforms. But what happens when you link it to selling?  

When account-based marketing is viewed through the lens of sales, some sales terminology from the past immediately comes to mind; cross-selling, upselling, and multi-constituent selling. All have some measure of prospecting inside an existing account (or in the consumer world, to an existing customer).  

These customers have already moved through your marketing/sales funnel at least once, so you’d expect each marginal sale to them to have a lower cost of acquisition. Good, right? 

There is, of course, more to it than that.  Are they the right customer, are they truly the best fit for your company or firm? Is each incremental sale adding positively to the bottom line? Or are individual sales so distinct that it presents an apples and oranges situation? And lastly, is this strategy mostly chalking up ‘wins’ that are costing you money? 

One could be tempted to think of account-based marketing as a new idea. But it has some history, and those roots have a little dirt around them. Whenever you are presented with a new idea, our advice is to do a little research. In this case, if you did, you’d find some pretty specific advice on pitfalls to avoid provided by no less an authority than the Harvard Business Review – from 2012 (cue: the rules are different this time). 

  1. Forgetting the leading edge is sometimes called the bleeding edge, and bleeding isn’t good. 

Wow, so many places to go with this one, so many analogies. But let’s begin simply – being first – absolutely first – is often a painful and expensive experience. Why?  Well, there are no lessons to follow, everything takes a lot more explaining, and you’re probably on a learning curve to getting it right. And if you are leading a client who has never done this before, they are also on a learning curve to understand marketing, or what we call a developing marketing IQ

And this one is a sibling to ‘buzzword-based marketing’ from the section above, but it may often be accompanied by desperation-based marketing. If, as a marketer, you have an internal or external client that has never done anything like what you are proposing, they may have a very low tolerance for the lack of achieving their inflated expectations – no matter how carefully you educate them. Not to mention that as they begin to second-guess the strategy, they will be actively searching (dissonance) for reasons why this is the wrong way to do their marketing. 

While it is cool and sexy to be the very first (probably with media attention), it is way more efficient (and profitable) to be a little further back in line.  One analogy to close, because we couldn’t resist. Remember those old movies where the explorers are hacking through the jungle to get somewhere? Think about the different experiences for the first person in line (doing the hacking) as compared to the second and third people. That’s what we’re talking about. 

Want to make sure your marketing strategy is answering all the questions correctly? Give us a call. You’ll score better on the biggest test of all – sales. 

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