B2B Articles - July 26, 2017

Top 5 Most Common B2B Marketing Mistakes

Learning from both success as well as failure is essential for modern day marketers. To this purpose, we share our perspective on the top 5 most common B2B marketing mistakes.

These lessons we learned from working with B2B organizations of all sizes, from small service companies to global enterprises focused on integrated platforms. Common mistakes often prevent B2B companies from maturing their marketing practices and aligning marketing to business needs.

5.) Focusing too closely on the bottom of the funnel

The pressure for success on both the marketing and the sales side can cause teams to bypass essential steps, such as the process of attracting leads higher up the funnel. Many marketing teams wish to short change the process in favor of immediate MQLs or SQLs by diving deep into decision-stage content.

By focusing too closely on the bottom of the funnel, content strategies are often too technical and not value focused enough. For this reason, many organizations fail to attract the right types of leads or gain leads from key decision makers. An effective B2B marketing and lead generation strategy must focus on all stages of the buyer's journey.

4.) Unrealistic goals and strategic alignment

Yes, unrealistic goals can directly contribute to failure. In addition, a lack of alignment between executives and the on-the-ground marketing team can cause a gap between the mission and the needs of marketing. According to HubSpot's State of Inbound, there's a corporate chasm forming between executives and their employees. For example, 69% of executives believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective, but only 55% of individual contributors in marketing agree.

For one, marketing teams can be demotivated by realistic goals and gain a sense that they are doomed from the start. To manage a successful marketing team, leaders must help their teams believe in their goals and visualize a path to success. Using baseline data with incremental progression can help teams achieve stretch goals while feeling motivated with shorter term gains.

There's common agreement on what the high-level objectives of marketing are today. According the State of Inbound 2017, 70% of organizations agree that converting leads to customers is the top objective. The misalignment comes with setting specific goals. Many executives set goals that are not progressive or progressively based on achievable numbers.

3.) Not having an adaptive marketing strategy

Not having a marketing strategy that adapts to new data, insights, and learnings is a common short coming of B2B technology companies. There are two parts to this common mistake: #1 - not having a strategy and #2 - not continuously adapting the marketing strategy to new insights and learnings gained from tests.

Many organizations simply do not have a strategy, to begin with. A lack of strategy leads to sporadic actions and unaligned missions. According to a Manta Media survey of US businesses, 49.3% of SMBs lack a strategy for marketing.

The graph shows data on the presence of a marketing strategy in small businesses in the United States as of December 2016. It was found that 50.7 percent of U.S. small businesses had a formal marketing plan.

For many organizations that have a documented strategy, a lack of iterative and data-driven process prevents success. Data-driven marketing increases the win rate of campaigns. A strategy alone will not drive success. A winning combo is a data-driven iteration process coupled with a smart, experienced strategy.

2.) Not balancing data-driven and creative solutions. 

Both data-driven decision making and creative strategy are critical to success. Focusing squarely on one or the other can lead to failure. Many marketers lack strategic processes, creative approaches, and data-driven decision making with the ideation process. According to 370 Respondents to a 2016 Rundown survey, the top sources for marketing ideas still come from meetings, brainstorming sessions, and individuals working autonomously.

The graph shows the Leading methods and sources of generating ideas for marketing content in the United States in 2016. During the survey, 76 percent of responding content production professionals said they brainstormed to come up with ideas for new marketing content.

Data and creative design thinking processes must play a larger role in the formation of marketing ideas. Strategy must be adaptive--continuously adaptive. Marketing playbooks and documented content plans must gain from new insights and learnings. An ongoing testing process must drive future thinking and understanding.

Outline for a marketing strategy process:

  1. Establish baselines and core metrics
  2. Survey past learnings, experience, sales, data, and tactics
  3. Compose a plan -- document lifecycle stages and the buyers' journey
  4. Run tests and gain initial insights
  5. Share learnings across the team
  6. Update the plan and return to #4


1.) Not integrating the buyers' perspectives in lead generation efforts

Understanding the buyers' perspective is vital to improving conversion rates, driving better lead quality, and closing new opportunities.

Marketing tips

By not truly understanding the buyer's perspective, B2B organizations often attract the wrong buyer role or miss the factors that trigger conversions.

For many organizations, their marketing efforts generate leads that are not qualifying appropriately according to a HubSpot report.

How would you rate the quality of the leads you receive from the following sources? Lead quality

The buyers' perspective is key in defining strategy, content, lead offers, and building a strong lead to sales-qualified lead nurturing process. According to the HubSpot survey, both marketing and sales teams are commonly under-performing here. According to a report by MarketingCharts and Regalix, 90% of B2B marketers feel that audience relevance is a key attribute of content marketing effectiveness.

For many organizations, there are clear barriers to understanding the customer and buyer journey. Consider this Econsultancy and IBM report that reveals the barriers to building a build a joined-up view of the customer journey and gaining a more hollistic understanding of the buyer.

The statistic shows information on the organisational barriers faced by marketing companies in the United states when trying to build a joined-up view of the costumer journey as of November 2016. What organisational barriers do you face in trying to build a joined-up view of the customer journey?

Beyond technical and organization hurdles, lacking basic research practices may block many B2B organizations from understanding the needs of their buyers. Techniques like building personas, ideal buyer profiles, acquisition analysis, full-funnel analytics, and competitive messaging can help organizations improve their relevance to target prospects and buyer needs. Additionally, spending the time to understand the motivating factors of a purchase decision is essential.

We see these marketing mistakes in companies and organizations of all sizes from large enterprise teams to startups. Our hope is to shed light on these common flaws and help marketing teams drive better performance. If you found this article helpful, take a look at our article on these top 6 tools for B2B marketing.


Rundown survey: United States; Rundown; 2016; 370 Respondents; content production professionals: © Statista 2017 - https://www.statista.com/statistics/623862/content-marketing-ideas-generating/
HubSpot: The State of Inbound, page 44 - worldwide survey; February to May 2016; > 4,500 marketing professionals.
MarketingCharts; Regalix: Worldwide; North America; January 9 to 20, 2015; 18 years and older; 285 Respondents; among senior B2B marketing leaders and business leaders: 72 percent of respondents were based in North America


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