7 Ways to Tell a B2B Buyer That You're Lazy

February 14, 2024

Lazy, complacent, disinterested—call it what you will. It’s not how you want your content or your brand to be perceived.

Perhaps your company embraces a laid-back personality; let it become too laid back and it will fall over.

So, why do many businesses publish content that screams “lazy” to their audiences?

Some of them are genuinely too lazy to fix the issues. More fool them.

Many others lack the resources to do better. Underinvestment in marketing is a sure-fire recipe for failure.

And, sadly, some of them don’t know any better.

Let’s make sure you don’t fall into any of those traps by discussing some frequently committed errors that you can watch out for and invest appropriately to avoid.


Blatant Use of AI

“Too many marketers are relying on AI tools to crank out cringeworthy content that ends up cluttering the web and preventing the good stuff from being seen.”—Neil Patel

Let’s tackle an easy one first.

The freshest form of abject laziness is the publication of content that has been generated using AI tools without subsequent human intervention.

Generative AI allows a wide population of would-be content creators to write fact-filled posts and articles in minutes.

However, generative AI has three, widely recognized flaws:

1.    It knows nothing. Whatever it produces is a synthesis of existing material from within its training dataset, without any ability to separate fact from fiction (other than authoritativeness and trustworthiness indicators attributed to its sources).

2.    It can hallucinate. Taking the previous point to an extreme, generative AI can incorrectly associate information from two or more sources to produce compelling statements that sound credible but are pure fiction.

3.    It has neither opinion nor emotion. A Large Language Model doesn’t care about the answers it generates or what they mean from a social or moral perspective. For the output to express an opinion and convey emotion—things required to make content compelling to readers—human input must be contributed.

By all means, use generative AI tools for ideation, research, structuring, headline and subtopic suggestions, drafting content, and improving your writing.

However, do not publish AI-generated content without first editing out the crass, over-used phrases it generates and editing in your company’s opinions and emotional commentary.


Factual Errors

Stating erroneous information is a quick way to alienate readers who know better.

That said, there are three situations where it’s easy to get caught out:

1.    You cite the information from an apparently reliable source.

2.    The information is accurate at the time of writing but becomes obsolete while the content is still in circulation.

3.    There is more than one school of thought on the matter and therefore more than one accepted answer (usually with disagreement on which is correct).

Citing stats and information from other people’s work is a necessary evil, since you have no way to reproduce every fact and figure by yourself.

However, check your sources thoroughly—especially if they have, in turn, cited the information from elsewhere.

Follow the trail to its ultimate source. You might find that it leads to a less credible or outdated point of origin, which has been represented as novel or authoritative by an intermediate author. If that’s the case, look for newer and better data elsewhere or edit the information out of your content.

The issue of obsolescence plagues a lot of content in today’s fast-paced world. To avoid it requires regular content audits and review, rechecking facts and then editing, replacing, or deleting content that has become obsolete.

Pro tip: create a content library in which each piece has an expiry date; that is, a date on which you will review it for continued factual accuracy.

This process can be arduous but has a silver lining. Refreshing and republishing content gives it a new lease on life, generating a surge in traffic that the outdated piece was unlikely to attract.

Finally, if you know that there is more than one accepted answer, why not say so?

Stating your opinion—and explaining why you side with that view rather than another—demonstrates knowledge, authenticity, and a willingness to engage in the debate.

As a matter of process, any content that your company plans to publish containing important factual statements and claims should be reviewed by at least one person with in-depth knowledge of the subject matter.


Jargon can be unintelligible to outsiders and jarring when used incorrectly

Incorrect Use of Jargon

Jargon is the specialist language that practitioners use when conversing with fellow members of their in-group.

Whether it is slangy or technical, jargon helps insiders establish their group status and communicate more efficiently, but it can be unintelligible to outsiders.

So, the first incorrect use of jargon is when you include it in content that’s meant for a non-specialist audience.

The fix is simple: leave it out—or rather, replace it with more general terms that the broader audience can understand.

The second incorrect use of jargon is applying it wrongly in content that will be read by specialists.

If the content isn’t being written by a specialist, for goodness’ sake have a specialist proofread it before publication.

Trying to sound like you know what you’re talking about by dropping jargon into your sentences can make you look a fool if you get the meaning (or usage) wrong.

The third incorrect use of jargon is leaving it out when it could and should have been used.

Some jargon is widely understood and replacing it with generic words makes your content sound stilted.


Unreadable Content or Images

Size matters. There, I said it.

Wherever you publish your content, it must be legible.

There’s no point printing in 48-point Times New Roman on a billboard that’s fifty feet from the nearest passing driver.

Similarly, there’s no sense using a detailed image that works well on desktop but is impossible to read on a phone—even while pinching and zooming—or when the content is printed.

And, hey, please don’t put social media icons on printed brochures—you know they don’t work, right? Have two versions of the source PDF, one for electronic distribution and one for printing.


Spelling and Grammar

Wear have you red this one before?

With revision tools built into every piece of content creation software—and plenty of specialist apps available to boot—there’s ZERO excuse for grammatical or spelling mistakes in your content.

You won’t be perfect—even professional editors miss something here and there—but you can get close.

Of course, not everyone is a grammar whiz, so appoint someone to proofread and fix the most egregious errors.

Should this also apply to team members’ social media posts?

My view is that it certainly applies when they’re posting on a company account but becomes their choice when it’s on a personal account.

Posts on a company account should always be written in the company’s voice and to the company’s standard of quality. This makes routing them via a managing editor almost compulsory.


Broken Links

No one likes to see a 404 error.

Unfortunately, websites get rebuilt, content gets moved or deleted, and not all those changes get patched over by behind-the-scenes redirects.

For webpages, running a regular SEO audit will catch broken links, allowing you to either fix, replace, or remove them.

For other digital properties and content, there’s no substitute for regular audit and review, much like the fact-checking process we discussed earlier.

A sophisticated content index will include a list of the URLs that are embedded in each of the content items, facilitating a faster review process.


Inconsistent Branding

Up to this point, we’ve discussed issues that result in a conscious, sub-par experience.

We know what is wrong with the content we’re reading, and it bothers us.

However, when the issue lies in how the content is branded, we’re not always sure why it feels “off”; we just know that something isn’t right.

The various elements of your brand work by evoking emotional responses in the person consuming your content.

Colors, fonts, images, logos, voice, tone, and style each trigger predictable, subconscious reactions in your target audience.

If the elements aren’t working in harmony, the brand feels disjointed or, in an extreme case, jarring.

If the elements change incoherently from one place to another, the brand feels inconsistent and low quality.

Step one is to make sure your brand is consistent and impactful.

Get help from someone with an eye for design to ensure you achieve brand umami.

Then, step two is documenting the elements in a brand guideline and educating your team on how to apply it and why it matters.

Finally, step three is applying your brand consistently across everything you produce.

Appoint someone to review content for brand appropriateness before it gets published and make it clear that consistent branding is just as important as the other quality indicators we’ve discussed.


The Bottom Line

High quality content is a sign that your company cares about its audience.

Low quality content will be interpreted as a lack of effort, interest, competence—or all three.

If you want to tell your prospects and customers that you’re lazy or incompetent, simply publish whatever your team can be bothered to write, in whatever state it arrives.

Otherwise, pay heed to the issues we’ve discussed and invest in the people, processes, and technology needed to ensure they rarely arise.


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Image credits: Adobe Stock

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