Marketing Gimmicks versus Value: A Disappointing Example

B2B marketing often includes thought leadership in areas that are outside a company’s core product or service focus.

  • Omniture (now Adobe) wants to be a leader on driving business results with digital marketing, not just measurement.
  • Eloqua has an active voice on the entire spectrum of content marketing.

What happens when a company tries to align with something new to them? It could be a financial software package talking about supply chain management. Or a big cracker brand aligning with back to basics and real food.

In either case, the alignment must be believable. Here is an example that doesn’t make the grade and what B2B marketers can learn from it.

Background: we have about 400 square feet of garden, small garden by rural standards and large by city standards. I am the primary family gardener and have become a confident novice over the last few years.

How it Started: Discovery

Text: Marketing Delivering Value? Or a Marketing Gimmick? Image: screenshot of HomeFarming.comIn December, I received a Burpee seed catalog with an insert promoting, a site promising a community of gardeners as well as tools to keep track of your progress.

As both a marketer and a gardener, who struggles each year with finding a better way to create a garden plan, log activity and track results, I was intrigued.

An Empty Promise

As a marketer, my question was: can Triscuit help me grow a better garden? Unfortunately, the answer was no.

Here are a few shortcomings I quickly discovered, that apply well beyond

  1. Inaccurate Recommendations. I provided my zip code and they recommended transplanting tomatoes six weeks before our local climate can support them. Similarly, suggested layout and dates for other crops set gardeners up for failures.
  2. Gimmicks Instead of Valuable Tools. You can’t actually create a useful garden plan, using the space you have and crops you want to grow. Instead, Triscuit has checking the ‘garden planning tool’ checkbox with a gimmick that isn’t valuable to many gardeners.
  3. Avoiding What Matters. completely ignores organic growing, an important trend behind this movement. By ignoring it (likely because Triscuits are not organic), the value of as a resource is diminished.

Applications to B2B Marketing

I’m a novice gardener. In contrast, B2B buyers and decision makers are experts. This sets the bar for B2B marketers far higher than for Triscuit.

  1. Deliver Value, not Gimmicks. For instance, an ROI tool needs to illustrate potential value to your audience in their own environment, not simply deliver average savings percentages or productivity increases.
  2. Be an Expert. You are selling to experts in their fields. Take the time to make certain your information and advice is correct. If it isn’t, everything else you provide will be written off.
  3. Put Your Audience First. If you are focused on your internal positions instead of your audience’s interests or needs, you simply won’t connect.
  4. Be Discovered. I discovered Triscuit’s program through a well targeted media placement. Once you have something worth discovering, don’t forget to get out there and make certain it is discovered!

In Summary

Like many B2B marketers, Triscuit captured my attention and had an opportunity to deliver something valuable and memoriable that I would continue to return too. However, when they fell short, they lost that opportunity. Disappointed now, it is unlikely they will have the opportunity again.

Your Turn

What other ways do you see companies fall short when aligning to a new space, or what specific examples do you have? Share in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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