B2B Content Marketing. You’re Doing It Wrong

Posted on March 28, 2012

When surveyed 85% of companies say they are doing content marketing, but most are doing it very poorly. What are the most common problems, and what can you do to fix them?

To get the answers from two well respected pros I spoke to partners Alex Conroy and Bill Grunau of Esotech. They are both digital marketing experts who work with B2B companies.

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One of the things that people say they’re doing, if you ask B2B companies if they’re doing content marketing, 85% of those companies say that they’re doing it, but the reality is most are doing it very poorly. They have a white paper or webinar, and they consider that content marketing.

I asked Bill Grunau and Alexander Conroy, Co-Presidents of Esotech what are some of the common problems that they find when they go into client companies that say they’re doing content marketing?

What Can You Do To Fix Bad Content Marketing?

Well one of the things we see most often is that they have content but it’s what we call weak content or weak information. The content actually lacks value and a lot of it is actually selling and yelling content.

It’s like screaming, “Buy me or buy this or do that.” And it’s kind of old-school madmen marketing on their website, blogs, and social media. It’s a problem.

Another problem we see is they have no blog. If they have a blog its abandoned or unattended a lot of times. We also see one-way social media campaigns where they’re like electronic billboards and there’s no dialogue. It’s just screaming, “Buy my soda or, buy my car.” Or whatever. It’s a one-way campaign. Then there’s also the technical setup of websites. Alex, why don’t you run with that? Because there’s a whole list on that.

What Are The Technical Issues You Need To Know?

Well, when you’re talking about content marketing it’s the technical setup of your site. If it’s not done then anytime someone tries to share it, anytime someone is trying to look for it, it’s going to be harder to find overall. There’s not enough information about what you’re writing. Also the way that the article is written, the way that it’s laid out. The presentation has a lot to do with whether it’s going to get picked up as quality content or not.

What I find is the biggest problem for those companies that say they’re doing content marketing – they’re really just having content written, putting it out there. They don’t even know what the content is.

They don’t have people dedicated towards responding to the content or overlooking it, analyzing it, making sure that it’s actually quality content. They just saying they’re doing it. It’s like, “I’m putting it into this and it’s happening, Yes, we’re doing it.” However, they don’t really know what’s coming out of it.

Do they know if any of their content has actually taken off? Has some of it been rejected? Is it getting negative comments? Are they watching and approving comments? Is it getting syndicated by social networks? Are people using it in their feeders? Are customers connected to their website via RSS?

So there’s a ton of different reasons technically. The technical side not only has to do with the code, but also has to do with the technical way that the content is written. So that’s my take.

How Do You Fix Bad Content?

Let me ask you a follow-up question on that. One of the real key things that I just heard you say, “People have content, but it’s just its basically crappy content.” Marketing crap speak. So having somebody like you guys come in, an independent third party, you can give them a fresh perspective.

However, let’s say a company is trying to do that on their own. How can they start a process internally to look at their content with an honest eye, and decide whether it has value or not?

“Well the first thing is to actually look at it.” — Alex

Yeah, well that’s true. Actually take a look at your own website. Visit your own website and see what it looks like. It’s pretty funny actually, a lot of people don’t. Ask yourself the question: when is the last time I went to my own site?

Actually have colleague, if it’s not a consultant like us, then have somebody else do it. A third party that has no knowledge of your business. If you’re targeting a niche, have one of your clients give you an honest opinion of the website.

Honestly, Is Your Baby Ugly?

Go out and use something like a SurveyMonkey to do a blind survey on your own. Spend 25 bucks or whatever it is for a blind survey. Get people to comment on your pages and your blog.

You can even ask yourself honestly. Look at the page and ask yourself honestly, “If a friend of mine or my best client read this page would he get value from it?” Ask is there any takeaway? When your client reads this blog is there anything he walks away? Like, wow, I had an ah-ha moment. I didn’t know that, or I could use this idea tomorrow in my business.

If you make nuts and bolts, does it tell them how to use an extractor or something simple like that? Is there any human benefit to the content you’re knocking out. Can they apply that to their business to help them make money tomorrow? You know the old thing that’s called WIIFM – what’s in it for me? When they read your content there has to be some kind of takeaway for them, some benefit for them. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of verbose double speak.

Well, especially if someone is looking at content through search. They’re looking for something specifically. Now, if you’re stuffing your blog with words that are going to come up in that search but in the end you don’t offer anything, you’re just restating the question – they just wasted their time reading it. Now they’re less likely you click on your links or ask you for a quote.

Bill Grunau, Co-President, @Own_Your_Future
Alexander Conroy, Co-President, @geilt
Check out their great blog Esotech Blog


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

About Steve Farnsworth @Steveology

Social media and content marketing. Strategy and implementation that generate leads, builds customer loyalty and word-of-mouth buzz. Contact 650-331-0594 to see if working together could increase your market position and sales.

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