Most B2B marketing secrets are junk because they don’t come from the actual B2B marketers that are in the trenches working in real companies… That’s why when I originally posted these on reddit’s r/marketing, it got a lot of recognition. I’ve since revised them and added a lot of content below.
Here are some of my closely held marketing secrets from experience selling in real, hard markets — I’m talking about roof repair, specialized software, commoditized hardware, real estate coaching, architectural design, financial services, broadcasting equipment, leadership groups, market research, SaaS… the list goes on.
1) Build “Data-Driven” Marketing Intuition
In a world obsessed over data-driven marketing, the idea of using your intuition or relying on your “gut feeling” has become obsolete. I think that’s B.S. for this reason… Your past marketing experience is data that has become baked into your intuition and therefore is at least partially data-driven.
It logically follows that you can build your “marketing intuition” by experiencing the change in results from many a/b tests. But you don’t need to wait around for 30 years to naturally accumulate all that marketing experience, you can take a big shortcut.
If you google something along the lines of “top conversion rate optimization case studies” you’ll find sites like MarketingSherpa, WiderFunnel, ConversionXL with an endless supply of tests from people that have tested all kinds of things. Just be sure to make sure you’re looking at reputable sources that understand statistical relevance, otherwise you’ll be learning from bad data.
2) Your Company Doesn’t Need a Blog Just “Because”
“Well you gotta have a blog!” No, you don’t. Thousands of companies manage to grow without a blog, I’ve helped many B2B businesses grow without a blog. According to Marketing Profs, there’s over 2 Million blog posts published every single day on average. If you want to compete in the blog-o-sphere, you’ve got to have a better reason than just “because”.
If you really do need to take the content route, you can create a few key pieces of phenomenal content (and remember, content isn’t just written content) and probably get better results from that than from 100 blog posts. Yes, you can re-purpose it across a blog in pieces, but that not something you need to do (or necessarily should do) just because you can. Before doing that, ask yourself if each of those content pieces are valuable enough on there own to solve a problem of a prospect, if not, then it’s probably not worth posting.
3) Be Careful On Proprietary Martech Platforms
The martech stack of tools is getting insane. People don’t want to use a hundred different tools for their marketing, and are therefore turning to tools like Hubspot. Yes, tools like Hubspot are great, but they can come with a big unwanted side effect. (I’ve got nothing against Hubspot specifically, they have a very nice software)
The problem is that once your valuable marketing data is formatted in less-than-logical ways to be stored in their proprietary platform, switching off of their platform to anything else gets harder and harder over time. This may end up with you being a slave to the martech vendor. It makes it more difficult to switch to tools that could benefit you, it leaves you subject to price increases, and it may often damage the value of your marketing data (which is super valuable).
4) The Fluffy, Artsy Side of Marketing Can Be Powerful
At the end of the quarter, marketing executives have one job. To prove ROI. That’s also the time when budgets are often adjusted. Things like audio/video production, graphic design, and UX can be easily put on the chopping block since their attribution to the bottom line is not as clear as activities such as ad buying.
However, the old saying is true and can be applied to marketing… “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” But what no one adds to that saying is that those words can be a shitty or those words can be monumental. For instance, most featured images for blog posts are god awful stock images that add no value other than their inherent ability to draw the eyes of prospective readers.
However, Netflix, on their website homepage, does something extraordinary. They moved away from lifestyle imagery on their homepage years ago, and from 2017–2019 they’ve had a beautiful background image, jam-packed with all of the amazing movie and show titles they know are most popular.
It helps them to convert more prospects into customers. I know this because they’ve left it that way and that’s one of the main purchase routes for new customers, plus this has been here while they’ve been growing by leaps and bounds. If you look in Wayback Machine, you can see them routinely update the content in the background to be the most popular and happening films and shows.
Unfortunately, in this example, I am making assumptions since I don’t have a Netflix marketing insider to verify that this background image is aiding conversions, but DigitalMarker literally copied that concept for their own homepage background… and they optimize every detail of their site regularly for conversions.
Besides, that’s just one random example. The point is multimedia can be more powerful than a highly convincing sales call or long-form piece of written content, and it only takes seconds to get your message across. That means you don’t have to retain the attention of your prospects while you make your sales pitch, it’s almost simultaneous.
5) The 7 Deadly Sins Are Great Selling Points
Full disclosure on this one, I didn’t make this one all on my own, although I have absolutely verified that it works. Honestly, I can’t remember where I heard this originally. It’s some-what known, but it’s a controversial doozie that I wanted to have in this list. The seven deadly sins are as follows:
- Greed (Material wealth or gain)
- Gluttony (Wanting more than needed)
- Lust (Craving pleasure)
- Envy (Desiring another’s status)
- Pride (Self-glorifying)
- Sloth (Lazy, don’t want to work)
- Wrath (Unleashing anger)
We are all hard wired to enjoy these seven things… so it makes sense that these seven things would help people enjoy purchasing your products or services if there were a taste of them in your messaging. Each of these, depending on your product or service, can be flipped into a potential benefit or hook for your messaging
The only thing that some marketers dislike about this idea (aside from feeling somewhat unethical) is that it doesn’t include the concept of fear, loss aversion, or FOMO, which are also well-known purchase drivers.
6) Stay Malleable with Brand, Media, & More
If your company is sued over a brand name, if your company loses it’s domain name, or if your brand name is suddenly destroyed either via bad PR or via association to something with a similar name that gets way more popular or in some way makes your brand unappealing, can you change your brand name easily? Is it stuck on every asset in places where it’s hard to shuffle through and replace it?
If your predominant media channel (whether it’s Amazon, Facebook, Email, Direct Mail, Events) suddenly becomes substantially less effective or obsolete, is your pipeline safe? Is your traffic diversified like a stock portfolio? If google starts to favor AMP websites significantly more than regular HTML websites, can you change yours quickly enough to capitalize on the benefits?
7) If Content is King, Then Demo Is Overlord
There is nothing that will sell your product or service better than tangibly experiencing it. That’s why car dealerships offer test drives, that’s why free samples are handed out in front of restaurants, that’s why hardware is shipped free of cost, and that’s why SaaS companies have demos easily accessible on their sites.
Now, obviously, not every company can easily and affordably offer demos, but it’s worth trying. Worst case scenario, produce content that is as close to demo-like as possible. For instance, a virtual demo, or a video of real prospects doing a demo, or at least case studies that show very clear depictions of before and after prospects obtain the product or service.