Content marketing and referrals have been the two stalwarts of B2B marketing for ages. Now, it appears people have other ideas, and there are some “hot takes” these days that are just the worst pieces of advice you can get.
However, the world is very monkey see, monkey do, so to save you from falling into these traps, I’ve compiled a list of bad B2B marketing trends everyone is jumping on.
These trends are highly ineffective, and like a bad infection, if they get ahold of your firm, they could run it into the ground.
1. AI is going to shake things up
Ever since ChatGPT, people are acting like cavemen discovering fire. Newsflash: AI content has been around for years. Look up Jasper AI if you don’t believe me.
If it were going to drastically change anything in your client acquisition landscape, it would have already done that by now. The truth about AI is that it doesn’t understand people, at least, not really.
The only thing AI can do is help take menial admin-style tasks off your plate. It can help speed things up for sure, no doubt. But can it really change the whole landscape of how you create and market your firm’s content and how your clients view you?
Not at all.
AI, as it is right now, and likely will be for the next few years, is meant to assist you. Most people, however, are lazy and just let AI do their jobs for them. This will basically lead to most B2B firms being homogenous and, consequently, average.
What firms end up doing by overusing AI is creating such boring, safe, and generic content that their clients view them as just another run-of-the-mill agency bringing nothing fresh to the table.
Now here’s the flipside and the true advantage of AI: All your dodo competitors using it are sure to fall flat on their faces. While they’re becoming more generic and more like each other, you’ll have the opportunity to swoop in the fray, Mr. highly personalized content, and make a sizeable impact on your prospective clients.
Look at it this way, if all your competitors, sitting around copying each other, start using AI, they’ll all start sounding similar, and that opens the door for you to capture your prospect’s attention by serving them something different. Something better. Something that they resonate with.
So, the overuse of AI in marketing is great for you because it relegates good firms to average firms and reduces the competition for you.
2. TikTok is gaining popularity and you should be using it
Anyone feeding you this garbage is not your friend. I cannot, in good conscience, believe that sharp-minded business owners and marketers are actually storming TikTok to market their content on there.
Like, who are you marketing to? 15-year-old girls?
Is Lucy in her sophomore year of high school searching TikTok for a market entry strategy to expand her cloud computing business to Asia?
Unless your business is throwing princess-themed parties for teenagers, you are wasting time, money, and energy using TikTok as a marketing channel.
The ROI on TikTok for B2B firms is so bad that it might as well be negative.
The idea is that by posting educational content on TikTok, you’ll attract prospects using TikTok to book a meeting with you.
Let me address this for you.
Say you’re an accounting firm, and your target audience is CFOs. Now imagine, you’re the CFO at a major concern. You’re probably 54 years old, which is the average age of a CFO.
Are you on TikTok?
How many 54-year-olds do you know with TikTok?
Disabuse yourself of TikTok marketing immediately. Not only is TikTok likely to get banned in the U.S., it’s a colossal waste of your business resources and time.
3. Instagram and social media is killing search.
So, this is exactly like TikTok, but with a twist.
You’re going to argue that there are older people on Instagram who are viewing your page or your ads and converting to customers that way.
Let me ask you a question.
Say you’re a COO in a high-revenue company that does $100m a year.
When you finish long hours at work and open Instagram (if you open Instagram), do you really want to start working again?
Are you going to fill your feed with how to manage employees and warehousing, or is it going to be filled with things you actually enjoy, like snowboarding or dogs or something else?
Besides, do you think your prospect, whether it’s the COO or whoever is actively looking for business solutions on Instagram?!
99% of your younger prospects are using Instagram like some kind of social credit score/dating profile.
And your older audience, who don’t really use Instagram as much since they’re probably spending time with their family after work, could care less about work if it pops up on their screen when they’re using Instagram.
In a nutshell, your marketing needs to align with your prospect’s intent at that time. Timing is everything.
Imagine this in real life. Let’s say your prospect is at a carnival with his family, and you go running up to him and get in his face about how your company is the best management consultancy east of the Mississippi.
How likely do you think he is to actually consider you as a service provider?
Now, you might still drive some results from Instagram. But as with TikTok, the ROI is very low, and the whole strategy is an ineffective use of your resources.
4. Email marketing is dead
Email is alive and kicking.
In fact, it’s the third-best option after referrals and content. Email is the best way to market yourself to a niche audience. You very carefully hone in on your ICP and market specifically to them.
People like to write off anything that’s been around for more than a couple of years and call it dead.
Email is no different.
However, when you actually compare the results between email marketing and social media marketing, you’ll notice that email outperformed social by 20x.
The problem with email marketing is that it’s slow and takes time to materialize. But here’s a little marketing secret you ought to know. Literally everything that will bring you massive returns in B2B marketing is long-term and takes a while to materialize.
Another huge advantage to email marketing over social is that it’s far cheaper to run email campaigns than it is to advertise on social media.
Besides, even if you don’t run email campaigns, you can passively collect a bunch of emails for your newsletter.
If you continually provide value, the yield you’ll see through email will be worth the long gestation.
And just like content, email has a snowball effect where once it’s on, it’s on and will only yield bigger and bigger returns with time.
5. Podcasts are the next big thing in B2B marketing
I know everyone in the B2B space loves podcasts, and there is genuine value in some of them.
They’re not a high-ROI strategy.
See, the thing with podcasts is that they aren’t like email or content, where you can steadily scale them.
There’s no defined way to scale podcasts, which confuses things for your marketing plan even more than they already are.
Let me explain this.
There’s no clear-cut way to grow a B2B business. If there were, everyone would be doing it.
However, there are clear-cut ways to grow your blog, your email newsletter, or even your social media presence, and your firm’s client portfolio grows along with the channel you’re growing.
However, with podcasts, there’s no real strategy to grow them. So not only is there a lot of trial and error, which wastes A LOT of time, but even once you figure out how to grow your podcast, it’s a slow process to actually reach more than 1000 active listeners.
Here’s another problem with podcasts.
Your prospect, like the COO I mentioned earlier, doesn’t want to sit around listening to more work-related information than necessary.
Most people listening to B2B podcasts are new business owners trying to self-improve and learn the skills necessary to grow their business.
In other words, they’re looking at podcasts like college and you as their teacher.
People with money to spend are not the audience of B2B podcasts. Especially not hour-long podcasts.
6. Community building. Focus on UGC
You know what? I take it back.
Posting on TikTok is not the worst piece of advice you could get.
“Build a community.”
“Leverage user-generated content.”
YOU ARE DOING B2B work.
What community are you going to build in B2B?
Who’s going to be part of that community and why?!
The whole concept sounds wrong. Can you imagine a “supposed community” on, let’s say, Slack, where a group of heads of Human Resources get together and talk about hiring?
Number one, this sounds beyond boring. Even if I were a VP of Human Resources, COO, etc., I wouldn’t find this group interesting.
Number two, how in the Sam Hill are you supposed to market your own company through this channel?
It would take you up to 2 years to grow the group to 200 targeted members and 50+ active members.
Then, once your group is thriving, the second you push your own marketing agenda, your whole community loses integrity.
If anything, “building a community” is a surefire way to run your firm into the ground.
In fact, that’s a great idea. I’m going to tell my competitors to build a community if I ever see them crossing the line with their marketing tactics.
7. Using AI chatbots is getting more popular
Businesses doing this, have you not heard of customer service?!
You are not running a Fortune 50 telecom company. B2B firms need to go out of their way to make their clients feel special, and you’re going to hand them off to a chatbot?
Are you serious?
I swear the trends coming out these days are beyond ridiculous.
Your client is likely going to be the VP/C-suite/high-level manager at a company. Yes, your client is the company, but an individual vouched for your company to the CEO, and an individual is who you’re going to be dealing with every day.
Even if it’s not one of the higher-ups in the company, how do you think they’re going to react when they find out you put their team member onto a chatbot? A chatbot… Come on!
You think they’re going to take kindly to feeling unimportant?
This is yet another way for you to steal clients right from your competitors’ noses.
If they’re using chatbots, it’s basically a time bomb, and when it blows, all you need to do is treat your new lead with respect.
Besides, you can’t really believe a chatbot can solve your client’s problems. If it could, what are they paying you for?
8. “You should automate marketing, everyone else is.”
Marketing automation. Like most other trends I’ve mentioned on here, there’s no real data even proving this a trend, but LinkedIn marketing gurus are already preaching this gospel.
Automating tasks where quality is not a concern is perfectly fine. That’s beast work. Hiring an intern or an employee for simple tasks is redundant and counterproductive to your bottom line.
However, if you’re automating whole chunks of work that include qualitative elements, you will lose 9/10 times to companies that did it manually.
It’s basically human intelligence vs. artificial intelligence.
And, it’s not just human intelligence. It’s specialized human professionals vs. artificial intelligence.
So, stick with people for knowledge-based tasks and leverage automation for processing.
Now, I’ve covered enough useless B2B marketing trends. Let’s talk about some trends that work.
Here are some marketing trends that are tried-and-tested and worth doing in 2023.
9. Posting content everyday
This is not a new B2B trend; it’s simply a quantity-over-quality approach.
Here’s another little secret I’m going to let you in on about marketing.
It does not matter what form of marketing you’re doing; at the end of the day, quality will always win out over quantity.
The reason is that the marketing landscape for B2B is just too competitive now for you to post just anything and hope it gets you clients.
There’s too much content being posted every day, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
You need to understand, carefully curate, and create the content you’re posting to really give your clients the best possible reading or viewing experience from your content.
Instagram and your personal brand are great examples of this.
If you post pictures to your Instagram every day, what do you notice? The number of likes, shares, and engagement you get reduces considerably.
It’s the same with B2B content. Giving your prospects a bar of gold once a week is far more valuable than 10 pieces of brass every day.
The idea behind this post-content-every-day approach is not to grow your organic reach. Posting 5 pieces of content a day is just going to get you blanked and ignored and told to get lost.
The people suggesting this strategy want you to keep your company top-of-mind for your prospect.
However, that doesn’t work in 2023.
There was a time back in the 80s and 90s when the internet wasn’t around, and you could spam people without much backlash.
And back then, it was a useful strategy too because there weren’t as many companies, and people only had access to whatever limited services were locally available to them.
Today, if your strategy consulting firm seems too pushy, sales-y, or straight-up annoying, your prospect won’t think twice about unfollowing you from wherever you’re posting all your content.
Like I said before, this is not a trend. And even if it were, it’s good for you because it makes it easier for you to outcompete all the other firms with their low-quality content.
1. B2B is marketing is getting more competitive
You need to get creative with your marketing.
Now, this foxes a lot of people because most firms misinterpret this and think that to get creative, they need to start posting content on channels nobody else is using.
That’s how you end up marketing your 22-point operations restructuring strategy to poor little Lucy on TikTok.
Creative marketing still means marketing on the same channels because that’s where your prospective clients will find you, but you need to do something different from your competitors.
I’ll give you two examples of this.
Here’s the first example: Say you’re an operations consulting firm running blog posts to get clients, but so are your competitors. You decide to do a post on implementing lean six sigma principles, but your competitors have already posted about that.
Here are some ways you can get creative:
1. Make a more comprehensive resource. Your post will collect backlinks and rank you in the first position on Google, leaving your competitors biting the dust.
2. Make a more entertaining resource. If your competitors’ writing is boring, make your post fun to read.
3. Add more visuals and media to your post to make it more engaging to read.
4. Use superior typography.
Basically, look for your competitors’ weaknesses and strike.
Here’s an example with networking and referrals: Say you get someone excited to work with you because they want to restructure their management strategy.
They’ve already spoken to a few companies, but the other companies were busy “setting expectations”, and in doing so, they killed any excitement your prospect had about working with them.
He tells you that they couldn’t give him accurate figures for results, and they couldn’t promise him anything. All they said is that “it depends”, “we’ll try”, “we think there might be something we can do”.
Do you think you’d want to sign with this company…?
Or a company that says, “We can definitely restructure your management strategy and possibly save you up to $1m in yearly costs!”.
This is just an example. You can use whatever differentiator or strength works best for you, but this is what creative marketing is.
2. Content marketing is becoming more important for B2B firms.
71% of B2B firms want to use content as a marketing strategy. Now, this can be blog content or social media content.
But let’s assume it’s blog content.
We pulled this data from a CMI report, and if you read through the report, it’s easy to deduce that the focus is on blog content, even though they don’t mention it categorically.
Besides, I’ve already pointed out why you need to dump social media (except LinkedIn and maybe YouTube).
Anyway, moving on, content marketing is the single biggest sales driver besides referrals.
Let me give you a simple example of just how well content marketing works for B2B firms.
Let’s say you’re a strategy consulting firm, and you want to acquire more clients, so you post 30 blog posts.
Now, assuming you posted long-form, comprehensive, high-quality posts, you should see at least 30% – 50% of those posts ranking in 4 – 6 months.
So, let’s say you have 15 posts ranking in 6 months, and they bring you about 5k traffic a month. Even if 1% of people viewing your posts call in, that’s 50 leads a month!
If your sales team can convert even 25% of those leads, that’s 12 clients a month.
Assuming an average deal size of $10k, that’s $120k worth of clients a month.
What’s more? Since your prospects are reaching out to you first, the sales cycle will normally just be a few weeks long. These would be leads you classify as “warm leads.”
Anyway, I know what you’re thinking. “Well, if it were that easy, everybody would do it.”
To be fair, they all try and fail.
The reason is most firms are never able to rank their content. It is not easy to create content that ranks and converts. 90% of content doesn’t rank because most people have neither the skill nor the work ethic to create high-quality content. And it’s only getting more competitive as the number of B2B firms grows.
That said, if you can master the skill of creating super high-quality content, your client acquisition and marketing problems will be over.
As a point of reference, we spend 50 hours per blog post to mitigate this problem. That’s how WE ensure that our blog posts rank.
If they didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this now, would you?
So, it is completely possible to be in the top 10% of content that ranks, but you need to give it time.
It takes time to master the skill of SEO content creation and for your posts to rank.
You understand how important content marketing is for B2B now. Everything else PALES in comparison.
But if you don’t have the years of time and patience it takes to learn content marketing, use the button below to reach out to us.
We’ll find you a solution that makes you the new king of your niche on Google asap.