Marketing messages missing mark

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B-to-b marketing communications messages often contain too much information and don’t deliver relevant information to the target audience, according to a survey by Mobium Creative Group, Chicago. The online survey of roughly 180 b-to-b marketing professionals, conducted in December, asked respondents to identify the top three problems with b-to-b communications.

Seventy-four percent of respondents said the No. 1 problem is that ads contain so much information the message gets lost.

The second-biggest problem, cited by 66% of respondents, is that communications messages don’t address the needs, concerns, questions or problems of the audience.

The third-biggest problem, identified by 39% of respondents, is that communications messages are full of corporate "chest-pounding."

"B-to-b companies tend to want to jam their own agendas down people’s throats rather than understand what it is that would be compelling to the audience," said Gordon Hochhalter, a partner at Mobium, a b-to-b integrated marketing communications agency.

Survey respondents also said
b-to-b communications typically:

•Talk about the company, products and services rather than what the audience would gain (38%).

•Lack human interest, passion or emotion (28%).

•Are too safe; don’t take enough creative risk (20%).

•Contain expected stock photographs of office environments (19%).

•Lack visual interest (13%).

•Talk down to the audience (6%).

•Contain too much business-speak, jargon and acronyms (4%).

•Consist of campaign executions that don’t look like they came from the same company (2%).

•Exhibit poor production, weak layouts and bad photography (1%).

Hochhalter said b-to-b marketers need to conduct more research to understand the needs of the audience, then develop an integrated marketing approach to deliver compelling, relevant content.

This concept is nothing new in marketing. The problem, said Mobium partner Guy Gangi, is that companies aren’t truly embracing an integrated approach focused on customer needs.

"Very often in companies, product development is not aligned with the kind of research that needs to be done to communicate effectively with the customer," Gangi said. He suggested the solution is to more closely align product development with communications to focus on customer needs.

Rick Segal, chairman-CEO of HSR Business to Business Inc., a Cincinnati-based agency, agreed with some of the findings. "Much of business-to-business marketing communications is kind of PowerPoint-slide-as-ad," Segal said.

He said this type of message is driven by the fact that many marketing executives in b-to-b companies have come to their roles from engineering or technology jobs. "They believe they can just publish the data, and the audience will draw the correct conclusion," Segal said. "As a result, most b-to-b communications are not very interesting or very provocative."

He said more effective marketing communications can begin with understanding the voice of the customer and the ways in which customers appreciate value from marketing messages.

"Those [messages] are much more emotionally charged than a straightforward presentation of data," he said.

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