Sometimes the best advice and perspective doesn’t come from the public figures we hear at conferences or see quoted in publications. It comes from the people who are hands on, doing the work in a wide range of situations.
Toby is one of those guys. You probably don’t know Toby, but maybe you should. He recently joined Business Insider as the Sales Director for the Southeast, after a number of years with CBSi, parent to B2B technology focused properties ZDNet and TechRepublic (among others). Like many of the people I work with at publishers, Toby works on more programs in a month than many of us work on in a year and that position gives him first hand insight into what is working, and what isn’t, at scale.
I had a chance to talk to Toby recently (when he was still with CBSi) and he shared three of the most common mistakes he sees B2B marketers make when they first start working with publishers. I thought it was great insight for B2B marketers looking to work with publishers for the first time (and a healthy reminder for many of us). So, with a hat tip to Toby, here they are, along with some of my thoughts he sparked:
1. Setting Unrealistic Expectations
When our expectations are unrealistic, we don’t have an opportunity to be successful. What many marketers would consider a success will be seen as a complete failure, not even as a modest result that can be built on.
Toby highlighted two areas in particular where he sees marketers coming in with unrealistic expectations.
- ROI. Yes, marketing should build the business, but it doesn’t make the trees around your office burst into beautiful blooms of money. If your expectations of ROI would make even the most risk-averse CEO give you a blank check, you are setting yourself up to fail.
- Content. We are all awash in content today. If a publication can target your audience, you are likely one of dozens of marketers trying to offer up your content to their audience. Content focusing on the challenges or needs of one audience can’t be used effectively with other audiences that don’t share the same challenge. Particularly with “lead guarantee” programs, where a publisher contracts to provide a certain number of contacts meeting specific criteria, marketers fall into the trap of believing their content isn’t critical.
Toby shared a number of examples with me, including a marketer that expected more than $1.2 million in revenue from a $15,000 lead generation program and another that expected to use content created for help desk administrators in a program to increase visibility with VPs and CIOs. These are extreme examples, but unfortunately mismatches like this are not unusual.
When you set unrealistic expectations, you have nowhere to go but down.
Publisher sites are noisy places, some have more than a dozen ads on a single page and 10’s or 100’s of millions of ads served every month. You are one of many marketers, and if this is one of your first ventures into advertising, you are likely one of the smaller and lesser-known ones.
In addition, each publisher represents only a tiny slice of the total time your audience spends online. Is your buy really big enough to meaningfully sway perception when your competitors aren’t just sitting silent? Often, the answer is “no.”
One of the best ways to address this is to narrow your focus. Many marketers start with retargeting because it reaches a very finite audience that is already familiar with your company (people who visited your site) and is relatively inexpensive. When you look at larger B2B publishers, start by focusing the specific sections of the site.
Toby highlighted the tendency many marketers have to run small pilots with a large number of companies and then conclude advertising won’t work. Instead, focus on just a one or two partners, at a scale that delivers a more meaningful impact. Not only will you see better results, you will be testing programs that are more like the ones you will ultimately roll out.
3. Jumping Straight to Sales
Someone downloaded your perspective on industry trends, market research you sponsored, or your tip sheet. No, that doesn’t mean they want to buy from you. Chances are, they still don’t even know what you do!
Yet this is still what many marketers are doing. I’ve received the calls, I’m sure you have too. But buyers hate it, it is interruptive, presumptive, and rarely successful. Even worse, many marketers don’t have a separate long-term nurturing process for the vast majority of people who may actually be interested in the future, but don’t want to talk today.
If you are asking for someone’s email in exchange for content or information, you better be ready to followup with additional content that is useful, entertaining or timely. If your plan is to cold call everyone on the list, just skip the content promotion, buy yourself a list and start making calls.