Why B2B Content Marketers Are Missing the Mark

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Feb 10, 2015
Content Marketing

Are you having trouble attracting the elusive C-Suite in your content marketing efforts? Are you struggling to get budget to expand your content marketing? Do you feel like your executive management team doesn’t understand content marketing at all? There might be a good reason for that. New research from The Economist Group says the real problem might not be a stingy C-Suite. The problem might be you – and it’s a bigger problem than you may realise.

Huge ramifications for content marketers

Missing the Mark: Global Content Survey of Brand Marketers and their B2B Audiences polled 500 global business executives about what they wanted from content providers. In the same exercise, they surveyed 500 global marketers about how they’re approaching content strategy. The results showed a gaping hole in expectations between the two groups.


The survey showed 93% of organisations plan to maintain or increase the amount of content they create in the next year. This is in line with findings from the Content Marketing Institute showing 91% of B2B businesses plan to produce the same amount or more content in 2015. But if B2B marketers don’t really understand their target audience or what makes them tick, it’s unlikely they’ll ever launch a successful content marketing initiative or get it properly funded.

The disconnect between the C-Suite and marketing

The Economist Group research showed executives are seeking substance. They want help making business decisions and they want information like competitive analysis, research reports, and white papers. 85% of them say they prefer text-based content to video or audio content and they want to read it from a desktop or laptop. They don’t want to see a product pitch or a strong call to action.

Marketers tend to be focused largely on marketing a specific product or service and they often try to wrap it up in a pretty package. 93% of the content they create is connected directly to a product or service. And let’s face it; we obsess over the latest gizmo in the marketing mix. Infographics, mobile apps, social media, live chat rooms and all the rest of the shiny things might be great for other demographics but not the C-Suite.  

This is where the disparity of the intentions of the marketing team and the expectations of the executive team comes into play. Even though both groups agree about the importance of brand in the marketing mix, the C-Suite doesn’t trust a brand obviously pitching products or services. They want less marketing and more brand journalism. Media companies are the most frequent place executives turn to for trustworthy content.

How to influence the C-Suite

Whether you’re selling directly to the C-Level or trying to get approval from your own executive management team for content marketing, the same tactics are going to work in your favour. You need to lose the spin and start creating serious content to inform and influence decision-making. The types of content most suitable for management are:

You’ll also need to hire writers who can research and present an objective view of a business problem.  This is work for brand journalists and researchers, not copywriters who are just learning the trade or good on advertising copy.


Approaching the HIPPO in your organisation

In an article for CCO magazine, Jonathan Crossfield advised extreme caution when trying to influence a HIPPO, the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.  With tongue planted firmly in cheek, he describes a HIPPO as, “Incredibly thick skinned, almost impossible to move, yet extremely dangerous when throwing its weight about, the hippo is a difficult beast to hunt.”

Crossfield supports the findings of The Economist Group on the matter of how to make a case to an executive audience.

“Back up claims and proposals with evidence, include references to relevant business leaders and build case studies to demonstrate best practice. If you can show proven and practical examples with numbers relevant to your market, you have a much greater chance.“

The take-away for content marketers

Not all content suits every audience and that’s especially true of executive management. Until B2B content marketers begin to produce content the C-Suite trusts, they won’t get maximum benefit from their content marketing activities. This is equally true for external marketing as it is for internal communications with your own management team.

Execs don’t care about all the cool stuff you’re doing; they want spin-free, hard-core business reporting. When you deliver that, you’ll have a much easier time getting the budget you need. Your sales team will be grateful for influencing the decision makers and budget holders in the organisations where they’re trying to close business.

If you would like more information about how to influence the C-Suite in your own marketing efforts, give Lush a call. I’m happy to have a chat about what you can do to get your content initiatives off the ground. In the meantime, have a look at the findings from the survey:

Missing the Mark: Global Content Survey of Brand Marketers and their B2B Audiences from The Economist Group’s Lean back blog
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