Debunking 10 Myths About B2B Content Marketing

September 28, 2022

Spend long enough on social media and you’ll read some incredible stuff.

From the alleged goings-on among the rich and famous to conspiracy theories and extra-terrestrials, it’s all out there somewhere.

It’s even true within the sleepy corridors of B2B content marketing.

I regularly see outlandish claims about what works and what doesn’t, why content marketing is simultaneously for everyone and for only a few, how it’s both growing exponentially and dying a death, and why it’s both essential and entirely optional.

Plainly, not all these things can be true for everyone at once.

There are far too many myths and rumors for me to tackle in one post, and some of them are so random, I wouldn’t know where to start.

Instead, here are ten pervasive myths about which I have a clear and considered opinion.

After reading this post you will hopefully avoid wasting time and effort on their account.


Myth One: Content Marketing is Just Another Way of Generating Leads

This myth should be read in an exasperated tone and with a dismissive wave.

We don’t need more leads, objectors say, we need more prospects who are ready to buy—today.

With only about 5 percent of your target buyers in market, ready to buy, at any given time, it’s foolhardy to think that marketing can (or even should) focus its efforts on locating and tackling that subset of your audience.

Marketing at large—and content marketing in particular—is what connects you with every future customer as they find, evaluate, and choose to do business with your company.

That process starts long before they ever become a customer, while they’re still figuring out whether they even need or want to purchase anything at all.

And it continues after they make a purchase, helping to ensure they are delighted by their user experience (a term I apply equally to hardware, software, and services) and go on to become loyal, repeat customers.

Effective content marketing addresses the needs, wants, beliefs, and emotions of prospects and customers at every stage of their buyer’s journey, from initial awareness through purchase to renewal and loyalty.

It is much more than just a lead-generating tactic.

Great content helps you recruit talent, attract investors, engage stakeholders, delight customers, find upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and enlist loyal customers as advocates and influencers for your brand.


Myth Two: Content Marketing is Only for Large Corporations

Large corporations have large budgets.  Large budgets mean they can engage in a wide range of marketing tactics and hire teams of people to manage them.

This means that large corporations can play the content marketing game on more channels, spend more on promoting their content, and hire fancy-pants producers and actors to make slick videos and evocative photoshoots.

With all the noise reverberating around every digital marketing channel, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a big budget is the only way to get seen or heard.

To a certain extent, I agree.

There’s definitely a minimum amount you must pay to buy eyeballs on each channel (or to publish and promote enough content that you get noticed organically.)  

Below that threshold, you’re going to get drowned out by both the bigger spenders and the cacophony of the masses.

However, money isn’t the only currency that the search and social media algorithms accept in return for making your content visible.

Both Google (eponymous with search, about which more in a moment) and the major social media platforms want to satisfy their users and advertisers.

They want to show users content that scratches their itch, engages their attention, keeps them on the platform, and increases the odds of them clicking on a paid ad.

You can dance to this tune by publishing content that is authoritative, comprehensive, engaging, and fresh.

Each of the algorithms gets smarter by the day at spotting content that’s likely to appeal to its users’ tastes and interests.

Give the algorithms what they want, and you’ll get seen—even if you’re not working for a large corporation.


Content marketing can be affordable but some minimum spend is required to get seen and heard

Myth Three: Content Marketing is Prohibitively Expensive

This relates to the previous myth but merits its own rebuttal.

The cost of content marketing can be split into four parts: staff time to produce content, third-party specialists, software to run and manage campaigns, and program costs for ads, boosts, etc.

How much you choose to spend on staff time will be specific to your organization, and there is obviously a trade-off between spending more on in-house resources and hiring third parties to carry more of the load.

Marketing software is essential if you want to maximize the impact of a small team. However, there are some great options that cost $1,000 per month or less.

Your biggest variable cost will be programmatic—how much to spend on search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, social media post boosting, social media ads, third-party website ads, and any content production and distribution costs associated with in-person events.

The most popular B2B social media channel, LinkedIn, recommends spending $5,000 or more per month if you want to see results. I think you can get away with less, provided your content, creative, call-to-action, and offer are on point.

How does that happen? Experiments, experiments, and more experiments.

Throwing digital spaghetti at the internet wall does get prohibitively expensive.

Diligently conducting comparative experiments to see what content resonates best with your target audience is an essential step toward delivering results without breaking the bank.


Myth Four: Content Marketing Can Be Outsourced to Anyone

Effective content marketing evokes an emotional response with your audience. It engages their interest, builds trust, and initiates a relationship that can lead to a purchase.

The secret to eliciting the emotional response you want and establishing trust? Authenticity.

Humans are amazing at telling authentic content apart from the rest.

Outsourcing content production is a great way to lessen the load on a small or under-resourced team, but it can backfire if you fail to maintain authenticity.

Whoever produces content for your company must understand its purpose and mission.

They must be able to write and speak in the company’s voice and in a style and tone that’s consistent with other content the company has published.

If you must outsource some of the work, I recommend hiring a ghostwriter and feeding them talking points and a detailed set of brand and style guidelines.

Keep editing and approval in house, since those are the steps where you can check for authenticity.

If it doesn’t sound like it was written by an insider, don’t publish it.

Authenticity trumps every other aspect of content marketing.


Myth Five: Content Marketing Can Be Managed by a Junior Team Member

Which mission critical activities does your company entrust to an intern or an inexperienced member of the team?

Hopefully the answer is none.

So why does content marketing end up on their plate?

This one is easy to explain and eliminate.

Many leaders have failed to grasp that content marketing became mission critical when a new generation of B2B buyers moved into influential positions throughout industry.

They are digital natives, and they expect a seamless, end-to-end digital buying journey.

They search, research, evaluate, and even purchase B2B solutions online, without ever interacting with your sales team.  Recent research shows that this increasingly applies to purchases of $500,000 or more.

Content marketing is your only opportunity to attract and engage buyers while they are in stealth mode, performing their online research and evaluations.

If you don’t embrace content marketing while your competitors do, they will intercept and capture those prospective buyers and you won’t.  Their sales will grow and yours won’t.

So, content marketing is mission critical, and it belongs in the hands of an experienced marketer.


Your solution does not have to be sexy for content marketing to work

Myth Six: Your Solution Must be Sexy for Content Marketing to Work

Many B2B solutions aren’t sexy—unless, of course, you find technical widgets and enterprise software sexy, which many practitioners do but not the internet at large.

However, this doesn’t mean you should abandon content marketing.

The key lies in what I just said about practitioners.

Your solution isn’t built for the internet at large. That’s not your target audience.

Your solution is perfect for a small group of buyers for whom it can unlock significant business value. They are your target audience.

Can you produce content that a specialist audience appreciates? You bet.

Your in-house experts and their peer networks have plenty of tacit knowledge to share—exactly the kind of inside details that your buyer audience loves.

Content marketing is the means by which you can showcase that knowledge, establish domain authority and thought leadership, and win the trust and business of your audience.

Great content is sexy, no matter what the subject matter.

Okay, maybe we’re a tad biased, but you get the idea.


Myth Seven: You Must Be a Natural Writer to Succeed at Content Marketing

Writing is a skill, and it can be learned.

It might come more naturally to some people than others but, with practice, there’s no reason why anyone shouldn’t produce high-quality content for their business.

You’re not up against Hemingway or J.K. Rowling.

And if writing truly isn’t your thing—and there’s no one else on your team who cares to pick up the pen—then outsource the heavy lifting to a ghostwriter.

Do your homework, come up with the topic, and lay out some bullet points for the ghostwriter to research and build upon.

Edit their work to ensure it makes technical sense and meets your standards. Pay particular attention to authenticity, as described earlier in this post.

I don’t know what percentage of companies employ third-party writers, but I bet it’s most of them.

The secret is knowing what to write and making sure the finished product is authoritative, comprehensive, original, and engaging.


Myth Eight: Content Marketing is for Companies that Want to Avoid Trade Shows

For decades, B2B marketing and sales revolved around trade shows.

Exhibit halls at annual industry events were where vendors showcased their latest wares and buyers updated their understanding of what was available.

Relationships between vendors and buyers were built and the groundwork was laid for business to be consummated in the coming months.

If your company wasn’t on show in the right places, it was like you didn’t exist.

Today, those “right places” are all digital.

Trade shows still play an important role but it has more to do with recruiting talent than selling products and services.

Some businesses still consider trade show exhibits their primary lead-generating opportunity, but most understand that buyers prefer surfing the internet to walking the show floor when it comes to finding relevant information.

Content marketing isn’t an excuse for avoiding trade shows—it has largely replaced them.

Content marketing is for companies that want to engage prospects early in their buyer’s journey, in the places that those prospects choose to frequent.


Myth Nine: Content Marketing is Dying Because Social Media is Overcrowded

Is social media crowded? Yes.

Is social media an important component of B2B content marketing? For most businesses, yes, it is.

Does this mean content marketing is doomed to failure? No, it doesn’t.

As I’ve already discussed, there’s a minimum amount your business will need to spend to get seen and heard on a noisy social media channel. But you can still get seen and heard.

Those who declare content marketing dead are usually practitioners of another marketing tactic whose businesses would benefit from having you divert your attention and dollars in their direction.

Search engine optimization and lead generation services spring to mind.

Do your homework. Figure out where your target buyer likes to find and engage with relevant, helpful content. Then devise a strategy for getting their attention in those places.

It might mean narrowing your content marketing focus to just a small number of channels so that you can produce, publish, and sponsor enough content to be effective there.

Whatever strategy you employ, don’t let the naysayers convince you that it’s futile.

The social media sky isn’t falling. You’re just getting pelted with acorns by a marauding band of social media squirrels.


Myth Ten: Content Marketing Gives Google Control Over Your Company’s Future

I’ve saved my favorite myth (of the ten we’re discussing today) for last.

When I say search, you say Google.

This makes sense when Google’s share of internet search hovers around 90 percent (with Bing and others trailing far behind) and when YouTube—another Google property—has become the second most popular search engine.

When a member of your target audience opens their browser and searches for a relevant keyword, the odds are high that they will use Google.

The results they see will be curated—a fancy word for controlled—by the Google Search algorithm.

Whether your content appears on the first page or two of those results will depend on the factors that Google’s latest algorithm considers important.

If content marketing is key to generating future sales for your business (see my earlier remarks on it being mission critical), does this mean you’ve ceded control over its future to Google and its algorithm?

For businesses that blindly publish content without taking the algorithm into account, I’d say yes. You’ve abdicated your responsibility to make sure that content gets seen by the audience for which it was written.

However, armed with a working knowledge of what Google considers important (see link earlier in this section), that need not be the case.

While your priority is to produce content that meets the needs of your audience, you can also make it as appealing as possible to the algorithms.

Invest appropriate resources in creating and optimizing your content to be found on search and you’ll retain control over its effectiveness and the future business it generates.


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Image credits: Adobe Stock


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