The #1 sin in B2B search marketing is focusing on "search" or "B2B" over "marketing".
I was reminded of this point while reading the excellent "The 7 Cardinal Sins of B2B Search Engine Marketing" whitepaper by B2B search marketing expert Todd Miechiels. Here are the B2B search marketing cardinal sins Todd describes:
- Not establishing a clear and realistic goal
- Viewing search engine marketing as a temporary tactic
- Not having basic fundamental sales and marketing elements in place
- Not performing adequate preliminary research
- Unwillingness to "lose it all" in order to "know without a doubt"
- Not being diligent about testing and refining
- Not putting the experts on it
These are definitely very significant issues affecting search marketing success across most B2B companies, and Todd provides additional details and solutions around each.
But look at the list again - couldn't each of the seven cardinal sins apply equally well to other marketing channels (after rewriting #2 to be "Viewing [insert channel] as a temporary tactic")?
For example, establishing a clear and realistic goal is critical whether you're talking about search marketing, direct mail, print advertising, banner advertising, email, social media, PR or any other channel. Same goes for treating the channel as temporary - lack of commitment rarely leads to success in the B2B world of relatively long sales cycles - or not being diligent about testing and refining.
My point is that its easy to miss the forest for the trees when diving into different marketing disciplines, but the best marketers focus first on the forest.
The answer to significantly improved marketing performance is rarely found in mastering a single "silver bullet" tactic (the trees). We all love the concept of silver bullets but they rarely exist. For example, writing better PPC ad copy may improve paid search campaign performance marginally, but its not going to change the trajectory of your business. Same with Twitter for B2B, or reducing the number of fields on your whitepaper registration page or learning the best SEO link-bait tactics. All trees. Useful trees, but still trees.
So how do you stay focused on the forest - on "marketing" over either "search" or "B2B"?
Addressing the #1 sin in B2B search marketing, to improve your focus on the forest (marketing) over the trees (B2B or search), requires consistently asking yourself a simple question - "Where does this tree fit in the forest?" Print out this question in big block letters and paste it over your desk. Write it on sticky notes and scatter around your workspace. Create a graphic with the question and use it as your computer desktop (maybe one of the design pros reading this post could create and share an example). Regardless of how you remind yourself to ask this question, just do it.
When you find yourself working on a tree without a forest - focusing on a B2B search marketing tactic without really understanding the big picture marketing strategy and priorities - immediately stop what you're doing and reexamine the questions Todd Miechiels' whitepaper reminds us to ask:
- Is there a clear and realistic goal for this marketing channel?
- Am I (are we) viewing this channel as a temporary tactic?
- Do we have the basic fundamental sales and marketing elements in place to see an impact from this marketing channel?
- Have we performed adequate prelimary research to utilize this marketing channel effectively?
- Are we unwilling to "lose it all" in order to "know without a doubt" (i.e., is our budget for this channel so small we'll have no idea if it works or not)?
- Are we being diligent about testing and refining our campaigns in this channel?
- Are we putting the experts on it?
Clearly addressing the core marketing issues will drive B2B search marketing success to a much greater extent than exceptional execution of any single tactic.