The Biggest Mistake Marketers Make

Michael Brenner on Feb 22, 2011 in Marketing Strategy

Are you wondering why your B2B Marketing ideas aren’t gaining the traction you hoped for? Or maybe your campaigns just aren’t producing as well as you thought? Does your content languish on the shelves? How about your relationship with sales?

These are questions all B2B Marketers ask at some point but too often the answer is the same… The biggest mistake marketers make is that we make it all about us. We have to stop talking about ourselves. Ultimately, it is a matter of perspective. And like any transformation, it is not easy to change.

Recently, I heard a great story that helped to really bring home this point. I was participating in a panel discussion with the great folks at the Philadelphia BMA. The topic was sales and marketing alignment – a popular topic lately. After the session I was speaking to one of the few sales people at the event. He said he does both marketing and sales for his small printing business. Nothing too surprising there as many small business people play many roles.

But then he told me that as a board member of the BMA, he was calling marketers to try and understand what the best time of the day would be to hold events. He’s trying to grow his membership and wanted to reach out and conduct a mini research project.

Now here’s the punch line: every single marketer he called either took his call or called him back on the same day. He said these are the same people that ignore his calls when he is representing his printing business. They called him back because he was interested in them and their opinions.

The moral of the story: Make It All About Your Customers.

If you have marketing ideas that are being ignored, maybe your concept starts with the natural desire to talk about yourself and your product

If your campaigns aren’t achieving the response rates you thought, maybe your campaign spews details about your product or company.

If your content isn’t being used, maybe it doesn’t address the needs of your customers. (If you missed it, catch my post on How To Create Killer Content: Speak To A Customer.)

Looking for a good example? Well I don’t normally like to talk about my company, but SAP really understands this concept. In my opinion our ad campaign released last year called “Run Better” uses our customers to tell the story about how we help them become best run businesses. It shows how we help to make the best businesses do what they do best, even better.

We’re making it all about them!

How can you build this in to your marketing approach? Ask yourself if you are helping your customer. Better yet, ask them. Use their words. You’ll be surprised how many of them will be happy to talk to you. And the strategies, campaigns and content you create will work much better than you could have ever imagined.

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Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
Showing 7 comments
  • Denise Williams

    Michael — right on! There are some excellent examples out there (SAP included) but unfortunately, there are leaders — at the very top — who don’t endorse this perspective, and it takes some serious coaching and long-term ROI value and business case to persuade them away from the “we.” Oh well, that’s my job! Thanks for usual spot-on content.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Denise! I think marketers top to bottom can fall into this trap. It is human nature and I think many people just get excited and passionate about the benefits their solution can bring. But we need people like you (and hopefully posts like this) to remind us that it is all about them. Thanks for your support and for stopping over!

  • Traci Browne

    I love this Michael, and not just because you mention our local BMA chapter. You are right, we need this reminder every now and then. I think we all know how to do it, we just get carried away and lose our minds for a bit.

    This happened to me recently and when I stopped and started talking to our customers, like Chris, people started taking my calls. But more importantly we learned the great thing we were offering was not so great to the customer.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Traci. It was such a great story and is so true. Thanks again for the opportunity to interact with your great members at the Philly BMA.

  • moya watson

    great article michael! nice to point out how SAP focuses on customers in the “Run Better” ads. i’ve also been impressed with the #BI4 campaign’s focus on sourcing customer and end-user content via video. yet i’d love some more examples for colleagues who aren’t quite over the line yet — there are plenty of accounts (not just “at other companies”) that are “all about me!” to me, the key is to be human first, share and have a conversation – and it’s not a way a lot of people feel comfortable doing business. yet.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Moya, I agree being human is the trick especially in having conversations. Every time I hear that word “conversations” I think back to The Cluetrain Manifesto which claimed so many years ago that “markets are conversations.”

      Social media is forcing marketers to become more comfortbale with this approach as consumers demand attention and are becoming more conversational with us brands. Interesting times indeed!

  • Andrew Slipper

    Totally agree Michael. It’s not about you. It’s about the audience or the customer…