Why are you paying for marketing that makes you invisible?

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By Mark Choueke on 29th May 2019

So much of B2B marketing isn’t worth the money paid for it.

I’m talking unashamedly as cofounder of an agency that loves and exclusively produces B2B marketing and PR.

B2B marketing plans often focus purely on channels and tactics rather than story, mission or a strong, emotive stance on an issue.

This approach renders your marketing virtually invisible and means your brand – the very thing a marketer is there to protect and promote – is expressed in the blandest, colourless terms. You’re inviting customers to disregard you.

On the rare occasions empty tactics do manage to place your brand or product in the direct eye-line of your targets, without any kind of emotional hook or unifying story, your prospects are left with precious little to remember you by.

As a consequence, if you choose not to trouble yourself with identifying something you can talk to your market about with authority or humour – you’re choosing to rinse your budget while achieving nothing.

Ironically, marketers and CEOs that end up in this unhappy situation often believed they were being frugal when briefing their agency or designing their marketing strategies.

Yes, they probably began those processes with bold marketing outcomes in mind. Gradually though, the closer these marketers got to signing off on a new campaign, the more they forgot what they needed their marketing and PR to achieve.

Their perspective shrank; they ended up building marketing strategies around cost rather than outcomes, cutting investment to a point where their marketing programme felt relatively risk-free. Unfortunately, that’s often the point at which a marketing plan won’t achieve anything even vaguely useful.

Worse for an agency hell-bent on delivering impact, the client is by then often so bored by his or her own marketing plan that he or she stops caring about marketing altogether.

Progress meetings start getting postponed or missed; marketing tactics and activities become blurred as desperate demands from struggling sales teams get louder and more influential; updates with agencies become fixated upon stagnant spreadsheets and 'WIP' lists despised by everyone involved.

The goal is no longer business transformation as it was before; now it’s merely the watered-down case study or the chase for some PR coverage of "that blog".

This lack of ambition is troubling. If your marketing plan is little other than an ebook series, a thought leadership white paper and some webinars and you can't talk in a breathlessly excited voice about the story behind all that content and how it speaks uniquely to your brand - well you don’t have much. You’ve got some stuff that nobody, including yourself, gives a shit about.

So we got a crowd of B2B marketers together earlier this year to talk about an approach that’s been wildly successful for our clients called ‘Bravery as a Strategy’.

Bravery delivers visibility and volume and is a force multiplier for marketing success. There’s no scientific formula with which you can forecast the effects of being braver with your marketing – there’s only the Steve Jobs “connecting the dots looking backwards” quote to offer as encouragement until you’ve experienced the effects for yourself.

We invited ‘Be More Pirate’ author Sam Conniff Allende to speak to our audience about ignoring broken systems and rules and writing and creating their own.

Here are eight tips we've learned that can restore the 'lost' column on the spreadsheet that is (was) your 2019 marketing plan – the column that tracks impact and ROI.

  1. Make bravery your superpower

    Bravery appeals to people. We’re drawn to those who demonstrate courage. We can’t help it. We love their stories and want to be inspired by them. In contrast, gutlessness is pungent. It stinks. Your customers can smell it. Them clocking your organisation for being bloodless and lacking heart is the last time they’ll think about you.

  2. Commit

    Scaling up your marketing ambition is impossible if you don’t care. Did you miss your last agency call? Did you zone out during the campaign presentation? You’re the client: invest your commitment, creativity and craft and your budget restrictions won’t matter.

  3. Break rules

    Rules are only important to the person or organisation that made them up. Becoming a ‘professional rule breaker’ is, according to Sam Conniff, the number one skill we have to master for success.

  4. Talk normal

    Startups and scale-ups, stop writing in tech-speak. At best, you come across as vague when your prospects and customers want only clarity. At worst you sound stuffy, pompous and pretentious. You’re the disruptor. You’re the alternative to the guys in pin-stripes. Start sounding like it.

  5. Think far ahead

    Look at the whole journey of the content, PR or sales collateral you’re asking us to create. It’s worth nothing if it never makes its way into the hands of your prospects. Basically stop asking us for more content that looks just like your old content for you to add to your website. That’s not a strategy.

  6. Say something 

    And while we’re on the subject of content, forget about a content calendar until you’ve figured out the story behind it. What's the message you're conveying with your podcast, your slideshare, your event? Story beats content – every time.

  7. Inject creativity

    Not all B2B marketing plans need look the same. Homogeneity is crushing and counter-productive. Creativity brings unreasonable advantage to those who choose to wield it. Creativity is the experimental, exciting stuff you allow yourself to consider after a decision to be brave. It comes from the ambition to do something different and outstanding; to do or say something others wouldn’t. If you already have the intent but not yet the idea, remember that creativity isn’t battery farmed. Creativity is free-range and open-source. It relies on disparate, random insights and ideas, clashing together. If you’re up for taking a first step in this direction then let’s meet. Bravery breeds bravery.

  8. Stand up 

    This is the most important tip. You ready? Believe in marketing. Stand up to sales and product. Stop allowing them to be your editors. Support them, don’t serve them. You know your shit better than they do. You get narrative, story, content, media, engagement and you understand the customer. And if you don’t then really, it might be time to find a different career. Or give us a call. We believe in bravery as the means by which anything important gets done. And we’re never too busy for coffee.

Want a quick chat about how we might transform your marketing, PR or content strategy? Email us at: hello@rebeltech.io

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