Why B2B content marketing fails

16 Oct 2015 | by Ian Blake

Want to know why your campaign isn’t working? Most likely, you’re letting your content marketing objectives get in the way of engaging content.

Why B2B Content Marketing Fails

Want to know why your campaign isn’t working? Most likely, you’re letting your content marketing objectives get in the way of engaging content.

I’ve written before that, for your content marketing strategy to be a success, you need to know what you’re trying to get out of it. You need clear, measurable objectives and goals. I stand by that.

But one of the biggest mistakes that companies make is becoming so focused on getting the most out their side of the bargain that they forget what’s in it for the audience.

I get it. You want to make sure that you’re getting the name of your new product or service out there. That the content you’re creating also promotes your brand. That you’re “on message” and using the carefully thought-out marketing language you’ve been crafting for months.

But your audience doesn’t give two hoots

Your audience isn’t downloading your eBook or watching your video or listening to your podcast because they’re seized with a desire to find out more about your brand. They don’t want to commit the next half hour of their life to trawling through an extended advert for your product launch.

Most likely, they’re Googling information to solve a specific problem, or reading up on issues pertaining to their industry, or seeking out advice for self-improvement and advancing in their field.

At this stage in the conversation, they do not care what a great company you are. They care about things like increasing sales, beating the competition and moving up the ladder.

If you want to catch their eye, tell them how to do these things.

If you do it well enough, they’ll decide for themselves how great you are – without you having to tell them.

Focusing on what the audience wants instead of what you want means dropping the jargon, being clear concise and accessible, and creating directly useful resources for potential customers. It’s the difference between badly disguised conventional marketing and genuinely engaging content.

When you’re seeking inspiration, your starting point shouldn’t be your existing marketing materials, it should be the kind of content that you find yourself reading, watching and listening to. Use as your model the media outlets that produce popular, much-watched content, taking a leaf out of their books when it comes to the tips and tricks that keep people engaged.

Take video content marketing

Many marketers read the statistics and (rightly) conclude that video could play a powerful role in their content marketing strategy.

Then they go and write a dense, wordy script. Or film a long, unstructured interview. Or produce death-by-PowerPoint-graphics-and-voiceover combos. Or record something with such dreadful lighting and audio that it’s a struggle to pay attention at all.

They make something that no normal person would ever want to sit through, yet assume that by putting in on YouTube, it will magically go viral.

Producing video that’s watchable is a skill, let alone producing video that’s interesting and insightful.

You need solid production values and tight editing. You need a decent presenter or interviewer. You need a script that’s written for the ear (not the eye), with short, elegant, punchy sentences that reflects how people really speak. You need striking visuals.

Most of all, you need a genuinely enticing hook: some practical “how-to” guidance, or some valuable insights, or an inspiring perspective from a figure in the field that your potential customers look up to and want to emulate.

People don’t watch a B2B video because they like watching videos. They watch them because, given the choice between getting a valuable piece of information in text or video format, many people find that the latter conveys the information more enjoyably and effectively.


The same goes for blog posts, eBooks, podcasts – all powerful forms of content marketing. People are not going to read your blog because people like blogs. They are going to read your blog because it’s a nicer way for them to get the information they want than the alternatives sources out there.

The information they want...not the information you want. And that’s where any successful content marketing strategy begins.

For more no-nonsense advice on achieving your content marketing objectives, download The B2B Content Creation Masterclass.

Back to all insights

More B2B marketing insights you might like