Want to know what B2B marketing mistake makes me the craziest? When I see marketing content that adds an unnecessary or inappropriate qualifier to try and get a specific segment of people to read, register, or interact with the piece of content.
For example, if I say this blog is only for “B2B marketers”- will that focus the target audience of the blog? Will I get more B2B marketers to read? Chances are that it’s the topic, not my qualifier, that draws readers in. And B2B marketing is my topic, not necessarily my audience. Many of you are coming from across a wide range of industries, company types and roles. Our communities and ecosystems are much too diverse to label.
I have tested this concept a number of times. Does title-targeted content draw more targets? Not in my experience. At least based on the tests I’ve run.
And yet when I try to explain this to people they look at me like I’m crazy! This is a result of the kind of “inside-out” thinking I talked about in my last post, “The Biggest Mistake Marketers Make.” We lose every time we marketers make it all about us or our solution or our product or our organization and not about the customer.
Want an example? Let’s say I conduct research of my audience that concludes that B2B marketers and communications professionals are really interested in “social media” or “sales and marketing alignment.” Then I write a really great article about one of those topics. If I title the paper with the topic such as “Top 10 Ways To Succeed In Social Media” but leave out my target audience qualifier “for B2B marketers,” I will get more B2B marketers to read it.
That’s right! If I try to label my audience then fewer of them and much fewer people in general will read it, share it, or care about it.
The main reason is that most people like to decide to do what they want to do for their own reasons. They do not like to be labeled even when the label is not offensive in any way.
To put it another way, people will determine the relevance of content for themselves. They do this more often based on their interest in the topic and will reject any attempt to be put into a box.
So where do most people make this mistake? When they are marketing a solution to a specific industry, function, or size of business.
It is human nature to think that if you qualify your content, advertising, or marketing campaigns, that more people from that target group will respond. But they won’t.
My advice: Understand what your target audience is looking for. And create a compelling message or piece of content. Then deliver it in the right context in the places your audience is hanging out. You will see a higher response in general and get more responses in your target.
Here are a few ways to test this. You can perform A/B tests using email subject lines, blog posts, banner creative or offers on your website. I have done all of these. Each time, the winner has been the more generic title (all else being equal.)
So please: stop making the mistake of thinking your target audience will conform to your view of the world.