I guess there is really only one way to fail at B2B Demand Generation— you can fail to make a legitimate contribution to your organization’s revenue. But, I already wrote the title, so I guess I’m committed to follow through, so here are three (of many, I’m sure) ways you can go wrong in B2B demand generation–and how you can avoid them.

“Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else.”
– Alison Boulter

Mistake #1: Assume that the buying personas in your target market are just like you and that your personal tastes and preferences are good indicators of what will work for them in their buying process. Better yet, don’t bother identifying buying personas at all; just pretend all your campaigns are directed at you.

Instead: There are good reasons why you are a marketing person and not a purchasing manager at a wood products manufacturer or the CEO of an international accounting firm. If you ignore those good reasons, you will fail to connect with the people in your funnel in a relevant and timely way. They, not you, will be engaged in their own buying process and will probably choose the vendor who speaks to them in the most engaging, compelling and meaningful way. Effective demand gen marketers keep their leads uppermost in their minds when designing campaigns and creating content.

Obviously, you should tap into your experience as you make content and design decisions, but be very careful not to substitute your own persona for theirs. Also, remember to use the data provided by your marketing automation and CRM systems! Your in-house information about leads and customers, wins and losses, successes and not-quite-successes will help you to continually refine your profile of your buying personas, and to continually optimize your campaigns, designs and content. Make them more and more relevant and timely—not to you—to your leads.

“What makes life dreary is the want of a motive.”
— TS Eliot

Mistake #2: Never make it obvious what you want your lead to do; in fact, never be quite sure yourself what you want your lead to do.

Instead: Respect your leads. They are business people with responsibilities and deadlines of their own, and their time is precious. When you send them an email and they open it, this is a gift they give to you. You owe it to them to make the message super-simple to understand and above all to make it perfectly clear and obvious what you want them to do. This is equally true, if not even more true, for landing pages, where leads must take your word for it that clicking your link or filling out the questions on your form is worthwhile. Every touch point with your lead is precious. Each contact is a chance to move them further along in their buying journey. Wasting their time, making them work too hard to figure out why you’ve interrupted their day, or making them feel foolish for not knowing what to do is a wasted opportunity. Nurture them; don’t confuse them.

Your content plan should specify a call-to-action (CTA) conversion goal for each lead-facing non-transactional campaign component. You want them to click a link, complete a form, download an offer or engage more deeply with your content, your brand and eventually, your sales team. Whatever that conversion goal is, do not distract leads with multiple calls to action, competing design elements, or too many possible places to devote their attention. Design your touch so that when they open an email or launch a landing page, it is immediately obvious exactly what you want them to do, and give them a clear way or place to do that.

“Observe constantly that all things take place by change.”
— Marcus Aurelius

Mistake #3: Spend loads and loads of time and money making sure your emails and landing pages look exactly like really expensive, award-winning print brochures.


  • Website? Check.
  • Email campaigns? Check.
  • Marketing automation? Check.
  • CRM? Check.
  • Relevant, useful content that targets buyer persona and buying stage? Check.
  • Social media? Check.
  • In market with your first campaigns, learning and optimizing? Check.

You have all this great technology at your disposal. You have more marketing agility, versatility and freedom than ever! You can turn on a dime, baby! You can measure and optimize your tactics and channels to make them more relevant, timely, and effective. You can contribute meaningfully to the management and delivery of your organization’s revenue. It’s a brave new world! All new and all good!

Please do not hamstring all this new marketing agility with the same kind of over-the-top art that your ad agency created for you back in the good old days when men were men, women were women and lunch was martinis. Yes, you want excellent design, but unlike the cases of brochures that sat in a storeroom somewhere waiting for the next big tradeshow, one of online marketing’s biggest advantages is its agility. Make your content ideas prove themselves before unleashing huge amounts of creative budget. Test and improve your content in small ways (blog articles, tip sheets, guides) and when you know they are resonating with your target audience, expand on those ideas.

Take advantage of the faster design-launch-optimize cycles offered by digital marketing channels. New purpose-driven messaging and new campaigns can now roll out in hours instead of weeks, but not if you have such a huge investment in expensive creative that you can’t afford to change it. Does creativity matter? Absolutely! Don’t abandon design, but don’t let it become a ball and chain either.

As B2B Demand Gen experts, we are in the trenches daily. We consistently overcome these challenges (and more) as we design, implement, analyze and optimize out client’s revenue engines. If you’re interested in learning more about Demand Gen or any of the new tools available to marketers, please visit our Resources page or schedule a demo with us. We are here to help!

Ed Skibbe

Author Ed Skibbe

More posts by Ed Skibbe

Ed leads the Strategy Practice at ID, working closely with ID clients to define the demand generation strategy and supporting processes, campaigns, and technology platforms needed to realize that strategy. Ed is passionately nerdy about analyzing results and developing marketing and technical optimization plans to drive revenue results for ID’s clients. Previously, Ed was a Senior Demand Gen Consultant and also led Intelligent Demand’s technical implementation and integration efforts.

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