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Why Is My B2B Digital Marketing Failing? You’re Treating It Like a Checklist

Published: July 31, 2018       Updated: May 13, 2024

4 min read


Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about a couple of reasons why your B2B digital marketing might be failing.

You’re moving too fast: Digital marketing, especially B2B digital marketing, takes time. You can’t put up a campaign and a week or two later start seeing a flood of leads or sales. That’s not a normal sales cycle for a B2B business. If you are abandoning campaigns after only a few days or weeks, you’re  not allowing the nurturing process sufficient time to work.

Your aim is too broad: Effective campaigns also require laser focus. If you haven’t focused your digital marketing on very specific keywords and very specific industries, you are probably wasting a lot of money and still not seeing results.

There’s a third possible reason your digital marketing campaigns are failing. Are you executing an actual strategy, or are you just treating digital marketing as a checklist?

  1. Emails? Check.
  2. Downloadable collateral? Check.
  3. Blog posts? Check.
  4. Social media posts? Check.
  5. Results? Well...

You’ve marked all the boxes that were mentioned in the eBook you skimmed, but just marking boxes doesn’t guarantee success. Your (lack of) results are proving that. So what could be wrong?

You aren’t telling a compelling story.

Humans love a good tale. It’s the reason all of our cultures, no matter how different, have storytelling traditions. If your B2B digital marketing isn’t working then maybe you aren’t telling a very good story. Or, even more likely, you aren’t telling a story at all.

The first question you need to ask: What’s my narrative? Digital marketing is just the first part of the sales process, not the end game. You wouldn’t keep on your sales team someone who just went into a prospect’s office and started reading through the product catalog, would you? But if the early outreach pieces in your digital campaign are all about your business or your products, that’s what you’re really doing. You’re making this about you and not about the person reading your emails and your collateral.

Every story has a hero, and the in the story you’re telling, that’s not you or your product. Never forget that the prospect is your star. Let them know you understand their problems, that you know the obstacles standing in their way of their solving those problems—and that you may have a solution. If you start at the solution you haven’t told them a compelling story. Really, you haven’t told them a story at all.

This narrative should spill out over every piece of your B2B digital marketing campaign. It should be reflected in the imagery and language you use in the ads. It should be reflected in the social media posts, in the emails, and in the blogs. It should be told through the downloadable collateral. Each new piece your audience interacts with should tell them the next chapter of your story.

How do you know what story to tell?

The story you tell needs to be two things: It needs to be relevant to your audience, and it needs to be organic to your business.

To make sure you’re telling a story relevant to your audience, turn to your buyer personas, if you have them. If you don’t have buyer personas, don’t panic. If you spent time focusing your campaign and aren’t targeting too broad of an audience, It should be pretty easy to narrow down the challenges to those a large number of those potential customers are struggling with.

As for a story that feels organic to your business, ask yourself if you’ve earned this expertise. Too many companies try to tell a story that they haven’t earned through their experience. Experience builds expertise, and if you’re going to start a conversation about solving a customer’s problem, you must have demonstrable experience on your resume.

You can’t just talk about what everyone else is talking about because everyone else is talking about it. Instead take the time to figure out which conversations you can best be a part of because your deep experience has earned you expertise. Better yet, define and develop conversations you can actually lead with confident authority.

So if you’re still treating digital marketing campaigns like so many items on a checklist, stop. Knowing which story you can confidently tell  then telling that story in a compelling way will start you on the way to digital campaigns that work.

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