Avoid B2B Content Marketing Hacks and Learn to Help Instead

February 15, 2023

Unless you live under a rock—which you don’t, because you’re reading this blog—you regularly see ads and messages like these:

- “Grow your audience by 1000% in only 15 minutes per day”

- “30-50 high-quality appointments booked automatically each week”

- “5 steps to defeat the LinkedIn algorithm and 10x your lead gen”

And so on. And on. And on.

Why are they so prevalent and so persistent?

Because people click on them.

Somehow, the penny hasn’t yet dropped for thousands of gullible searchers and social media scrollers.

If any of this stuff worked, we’d all be doing it, so it wouldn’t work.

Get-rich-quick schemes are, by their very nature, self-defeating.

I have a different trick to share with you. One that you can steal, apply, and—quite probably—use to increase the number of prospects you attract, engage, and convert.

But before we get to that, a few more words about hacks.


What is a “Hack”?

In the pre-technological era, hacking meant cutting something off with an axe or a rough blade. Think branches or pieces of meat.

Surprisingly, however, hacking gained a technical connotation long before computers were a thing.

In 1955, the Technical Model Railroad Club—a student organization at M.I.T.—used the term to describe how its members modified the functions of their high-tech train sets.

So, yeah, hacking definitely comes from the nerd domain.

In the 60s and 70s, it gained wider popularity, encompassing the growing community of computer hobbyists hacking electronic components to build their machines.

It wasn’t until 1975 that hacking acquired a malicious undertone

It wasn’t until 1975 that hacking acquired a malicious undertone, when The Jargon File described someone meddling with computer systems, trying to discover sensitive information.

Most recently, the term “hacker” has become synonymous with any skilled programmer, especially if they are working tirelessly to solve a challenge for which there’s no immediate commercial value—doing it for the so-called hack value of satisfaction.

The word hackathon—a portmanteau of hacker and marathon—was coined in 1999, when the OpenBSD Hackathon was staged in Calgary.

Today, hackathons vary from organized attempts to improve apps and video games, to social efforts to solve challenges for the public good.

In this sense, a hack has become a computer-driven solution to a common problem.

And from there, as technology proliferated, it was only a matter of social media minutes until the term reached other domains—productivity hacks, sales hacks, life hacks, and—yes—marketing hacks.

Except not all these latter-day hacks are good. Or even effective.

There’s another, old-school definition of hack that’s appropriate here.

As a term that originally meant “an ordinary horse”, hack became an insulting name for someone who’s not very good at what they do—notably in writing circles.

Many of the people pushing productivity, sales, and marketing hacks are just that: ordinary horses that aren’t very good at what they do.


How to Spot a B2B Content Marketing Hack

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Anything that claims to deliver exponentially better results for less effort is best treated with caution.

Here’s the rub: if the formula works for you, why wouldn’t it work for everyone else? And, if it works for everyone else, how can it still be advantageous to you?

This has been a sales game since time immemorial.

“Buy this new thing and you’ll be the coolest cat in town.” Until everyone else buys one.

“Use this faster thing and you’ll beat everyone.” Until they’re using one too.

“Use this secret trick and you’ll be smarter than your competitor.” Except you’re reading this on a public website, so they probably are too.

Some generic examples from the B2B content marketing domain include:

- Audience building – “add thousands of followers in X weeks with this simple trick”

- Lead generation – “do this and watch your funnel overflow with leads”

- Appointments – “X appointments booked for you, every week, guaranteed”

- Lead nurturing – “automated workflows that serve up sales-ready prospects”

- Conversion – “apply this and 10x your click-through rate/conversion rate”

- SEO – “immediately appear on the first SERP by following these simple steps”

The key is to stay alert for three primary characteristics:

(1) The claimed benefit is incredibly high, rather than a modest improvement.

(2) The benefit is promoted as working for anyone, rather than under specific circumstances.

(3) The cost of acquiring the benefit—and the effort to do so—is low.

On the contrary, real results take time, grow slowly (often exponentially), and require hard work.


The secret to successful B2B content marketing is being helpful to your prospects at each stage of their buyer's journey

The Not-so-Secret Trick to Increase Your B2B Content Marketing Success

So what is the secret to winning at B2B content marketing?

It’s not a secret at all. It’s just treated to a “yada, yada” response when there are apparently easier, faster, and more fruitful hacks on display.

Be helpful.

Or even: Always be helping.

Or in anti-hack speak: Provide relevant, helpful information to your prospects and customers at each stage of their buyer’s journey and watch your engaged audience, conversion rates, sales cycle, average contract value, churn rate, upsell rate, and referral rate all improve over the next 12-18 months.

Oof. Not so compelling, huh?

Reality isn’t as sexy as a hack made up to look like a legitimate business opportunity

Reality isn’t as sexy as a hack made up to look like a legitimate business opportunity.

I’ll say it again: real results take time, grow slowly, and require hard work.

Do your homework. Lay the groundwork. Follow a process. Be patient.

These aren’t things a life hacker wants to hear about because they conflict with the win-quick-and-go-live-on-a-beach dream.


Why Help Beats Hacks in the Long Run

Hacks might even work for a little while.

There’s usually a modicum of sense behind the smokescreen, which is sufficient to keep the naïve clickers clicking.

You get a quick hit of success, then the pack catches up, your results revert to the mean, and you’re back where you started.

It’s like a company that lays off staff to juice its quarterly earnings. The share price climbs and the investors smoke cigars.

Then, the company’s production begins to splutter, lead times soar, and quality slides.

Customers get disillusioned and start migrating to the competition.

What’s the share price doing now? Oops. No more cigars.

How about the competitor who paid higher wages, lived with lower margins, and focused on delivering what the customer wanted, on time, to quality?

Yeah. They’re winning in the long run.

The same philosophy holds true for your content marketing—or any marketing endeavor, for that matter.

Avoid shortcuts and random acts of marketing.

Avoid too-good-to-be-true fixes and hustles.

Put in the work. Focus on being helpful and relevant to your customer.

Put in the work. Focus on being helpful and relevant to your customer.

And hey, I’m not promising this will work overnight or make you into a billionaire.

I’m just here to help.


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Image credits: Adobe Stock


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