GrammarPhile Blog

The 10 Biggest Problems with Most B2B Marketing Content

Posted by Sara Richmond   May 23, 2024 11:00:00 AM

Aka The Lime-Green Lycra Bodysuit

What would you do if your best friend bought a lime-green Lycra bodysuit to wear to a professional awards ceremony sure to be publicized on television?PRN_Blogpost_05232024

After you briefly considered dousing the bodysuit in gasoline and lighting it on fire (it’d be hard to sell that as an “accident”), you’d shoot straight with them:

“This is a bad decision. The bodysuit is hideous. It would make the most attractive person on Earth look like a baked bean.”

And you’d be a good friend for doing so.

Now it’s our turn. Except the publicized awards ceremony is B2B content marketing. And the lime-green Lycra body suit is the 10 ways most companies inadvertently alienate everyone who comes across their marketing content.

Deep breath. Here we go.

The 10 Biggest Problems with Most B2B Marketing Content

  1. It’s unclear. I’ve often gone to a B2B website and thought, “What do these people actually DO?” If people don’t understand what you do, the chances of them becoming a client immediately wither.
  2. It’s rife with jargon and self-importance. Everyone is “reinventing” or “unleashing” or “transforming” something. If it’s a law firm, they practice “at the intersection” of three or four specialties. Even if you were to simplify the message, you’d be left with meaningless fluff. The copy sings “Me, me, me!” over and over, a little like a 3-year-old. And we all know how self-absorbed those little stinkers are, no matter how cute.
  3. It’s boring. This is partly because the people approving the content lack the bravery to sound and be different. Guess who wants to read 12,087 iterations of the same thing? Nobody. Not even your mama when you’re the one who wrote it.
  4. It’s poorly structured. It doesn’t consider our natural scanning tendencies (e.g., the Z pattern). There are poor or absent transitions from one thought or section to the next. There’s no intuitive narrative. It’s like the “junk” drawer in your kitchen. Full of potentially valuable stuff that’s entangled, hidden, or mixed together.
  5. It’s selfish. Most B2B content is focused on a CTA, no matter the content type. Making the sale is paramount. Adding value is “whatever.” Instead of building relationships, credibility, loyalty, and buy-in, and creating true thought leadership, the aim is to squeeze people like tubes of money toothpaste.
  6. It’s already dead (aka “death by committee”). Look back at number three. Number six is why B2B content is often so boring. Number six is why it takes a ridiculous amount of time to publish. Each piece has been reviewed and re-reviewed and re-re-reviewed. By the time it’s been published, it’s not just boring but dull and listless. It may even have lost relevance. And the constant revisions and nitpicking have squelched the hearts and spirts of the entire marketing team. Inspiring people with the uninspiring? Doubtful.
  7. It’s graded on a false premise. The premise is that everything is quantifiable. Everything is measurable. That immediate action results in immediate results. That A + B = C. Content marketing is, as one of my former clients said, “a slow seduction.” It’s a long game. It’s a growing credibility and a deepening trust. When you treat it as a one-night stand, be prepared to get very little return (or some icky results you didn’t want).
  8. It’s under-resourced (because it’s undervalued). To semi-quote The Notorious B.I.G., “No money and mo’ problems.” It demands the most output with the least input. A dollar store investment with a boutique shop expectation. And what inevitably follows is a blame game, where the creatives are stuck in the bullseye. In other words: This type of content marketing sets everybody up to fail.
  9. It’s not part of a broader content strategy. One of my mantras, which isn’t at all profound, is, “Content for the sake of content is almost always a mistake.” But even worse is content that’s created in siloes and content created from the bottom up instead of the top down. Content that doesn’t stem from a business goal is a waste. Content that doesn’t have clear owners, a defined plan, purpose, channel, etc., all contained within a solid brief is bound to be less effective.
  10. It doesn’t have a distribution plan. This is an inherent aspect of a solid content strategy, but one I’ve seen too many times to not treat as a standalone issue. You can make the best content in the entire world, in the entire history of mankind, and if you don’t have a clear channel or means to distribute it, it may as well not exist.

Now, my dear lime-green Lycra bodysuit-clad friend, how depressed are you?

Don’t be.

Our next post outlines how to fix these problems…for good, for the good of your audience, and for your own good.



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Topics: b2b marketing content

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