3 Reasons Why B2B Marketing Falls Short (and How to Fix It)

6 min read
09.08.2023 20:25:49

Over the last 10 years, major developments in B2B marketing have redefined the field. On one hand, the proliferation of tools and technologies has created new opportunities for engagement and growth. On the other hand, these new tools also introduce unique challenges.

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Traditionally, B2B marketing was either non-existent or merely a support function for sales. However, as prospects have adapted to new technologies, their behaviour has significantly changed.

B2B prospects now seek substantial information online before engaging in sales discussions, much like B2C consumers. This shift necessitates a change in how marketing can and should influence a purchase decision early in the process. Yet, friction between B2B marketers, management, and sales continues to be a substantial barrier.

Out of sync with management

In the world of B2B marketing, marketers are swamped with everyday tasks. They're managing the company website, crafting content, posting on social media, writing newsletters, and keeping sales materials up to date. Time for strategic planning? Hardly any.

Here's where the disconnect with management comes in. In many B2B tech companies, marketing is still viewed more as a support act for sales rather than a driving force for growth.

Management tends to look at the grand scheme of things, often overlooking the everyday challenges that marketers face. Without this understanding, they can't provide the right tools and resources for marketing to fuel revenue growth.

The Marketing Gap

This creates a gap – a divide between the marketer's daily grind and the company's overarching strategic direction. If management doesn't fully value or prioritise marketing's role in growth, and marketers are too swamped to plan big, a troubling cycle emerges. Marketing becomes a frustrating effort, and the marketers themselves grow frustrated.

B2B marketing doesn't seem to work

Usually, the main role of B2B marketing is to generate leads. If you have the budget, you might turn to LinkedIn and Facebook campaigns as quick ways to achieve your goals. But here's the catch: These quick-fix paid campaigns often miss the mark.

Whether it's LinkedIn, where narrowing your target can cost you an arm and a leg for a single lead, or Facebook, where finding the right B2B leads remains a guessing game, the results are often disappointing.

The ROI is typically low, a fact recently confirmed by several sources, including, Chris Walker, Founder & CEO of Refine Labs. You're either spending too much on LinkedIn or playing a guessing game on Facebook, neither of which are efficient strategies.

For some time, marketers at networking events have been lamenting how poorly paid social performs for B2B. And now, since July 2023, there's a comprehensive study to back it all up. Here's what it showed for B2B marketing: B2B Advertising Report Summary

  • 236,000 total leads collected
  • $42M in total advertising spend
  • 90% of marketing spend was on lead gen, so $37M out of $42M
    • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): $126 for downloading a PDF that may never be opened, $172 per lead across all campaigns.
    • Lead-to-close ratio: 0.3%, meaning you need 333 leads to close a deal
    • Marketing spend is $57k to close a deal, not counting marketing and sales personnel
    • It takes 3-4 years to recoup the CAC costs, not including gross margin.


So what does all this mean?

The rise of Demand Generation

B2B marketing is undergoing a shift with the rise of Demand Generation. Just because LinkedIn and Facebook might not be ideal for lead generation doesn't mean they're without value in B2B marketing. The landscape is evolving, and Demand Generation is becoming increasingly popular.

What is Demand Generation?

It's a B2B marketing strategy that shares similarities with branding. The primary goal of Demand Generation is to create awareness of your product within your target group. It focuses on building authority and trust so that when potential customers are ready to buy, your company is top-of-mind. It's a long-term strategy, no doubt about that.

While paid social media might not be suitable for B2B lead generation, it can still play a vital role. You can leverage paid social to distribute your content to stay top of mind within your audience. In other words, paid social isn't about quick leads; it's about nurturing relationships and keeping your brand at the forefront of potential customers' minds.

AI creates new rules for SEO

From the last point, one could interpret that B2B marketers should rely more on organic content. If so, beware of AI transforming the way organic content brings success.

On the one hand, content creation has become easier and faster than ever. However, this newfound ease carries risks: if something seems too good to be true, it often is!

Since tools like ChatGPT often reuse existing content, AI-generated content may increase the chances of publishing duplicate material, Therefore, it's essential to integrate your own insights, proprietary information, zero-party data, and expertise to maintain uniqueness.

As the volume of content grows, so does competition on search engine results pages, making it tougher to secure a spot on the coveted first page. Marketers may need to adapt their strategies to address AI's influence on SEO.

In the past, ranking well on Google required SEO experts to write comprehensive, in-depth blog articles based on existing online information. Now, AI's constant search for original data means that to win the SEO game, you must infuse your blog articles with your own unique data, such as zero-party information.

On the flip side, AI-driven search engines are empowering internet users to find answers without even leaving platforms like Google or ChatGPT. While convenient for users, this could decrease traffic to your site for those specific queries.

How to fix your B2B marketing

Marketers are already at full capacity at work, now add to that the fact that organic content and paid media no longer work. What are the solutions

Bridge the marketing gap

Management should actively involve marketers in strategic planning and decision-making processes. Marketers need to create space for more strategic planing and educate on the value and impact of marketing on business results.  

Both parties need to communicate openly and clearly to align realistic expectations and priorities. Like every employee in your organisation, B2B marketers need to be equipped with the right resources to be effective. Especially now, with the advent of AI.

It is also important that marketers change their mindset from merely executing tactics to being strategic partners in the organisation. They should take the initiative to demonstrate the value of their work and proactively communicate with directors.

Build an audience

Instead of focusing exclusively on lead generation (lead capture), companies should focus on building a loyal and engaged audience.

Create content worth talking about

Instead of spending money on distributing content that doesn't bring unique insights to your audience, try like Seth Godin: create something worth talking about. Produce unique content that shows your expertise based on your own data.



Seth Godin spends little time on social media himself. But many people on social media talk about him, his work and his books. That's because he spends his energy creating something worth sharing. The sharing then happens automatically.

Change your mindset & strategy

Sales cycles in B2B are long. B2B marketing can help build and strengthen relationships with your contacts. Relationships are worth their weight in gold in B2B: sales based on relationships are faster, and their basket value is higher.

Relationships are based on trust. To gain the trust of your audience, you need to provide unique, valuable content regularly and consistently. This makes your B2B marketing more than just a side benefit. B2B marketing is very strategic.

By involving marketers early in the business strategy, you can create an effective long-term plan for growing your business.

Unlock growth opportunities today

We have recently launched our AI-powered B2B Marketing Index. You can benchmark yourself against the best in the industry and learn in which areas you have the most improvement potential.

And the best part: It's free!

Click here to benchmark against the best.