We had an interesting question in our most recent Freemium Mode Q&A event focusing on B2B PR and marketing for the global games industry (https://www.biggamesmachine.com/freemium-mode/), which was:
“What are the most common B2B marketing mistakes you’ve seen in video game PR and marketing, and how can new companies avoid them to establish a strong presence in the market?”
B2B marketing mistake 1: Lack of investment/unrealistic budgets
If you want to make an impact, you’ll have to spend money over a long period to get there (see later point about expecting speedy results).
Building trust takes time, which is one of the reasons why B2B marketing is costly. However, the main reason is that companies tend to rely too much on PR and neglect other important aspects of the marketing mix.
Generating compelling PR stories requires great content supported by unique data and insight. This will either come from your own platform (if you operate a SAAS business) or data you’ve commissioned.
Data you already have on your platform is more cost-effective to analyse since it only needs extraction and analysis. However, commissioning a research project involves working with a specialised marketing research agency and incurs additional costs.
Regardless of the data source, a copywriter needs to analyse and transform it into easily digestible content.
Then the report needs to be designed, and this is one area where companies MASSIVELY fall down trying to save money by doing it in-house.
Bad design can kill great insight. If it looks cheap, your prospects will think it is cheap, so we strongly advise spending good money on quality design to do justice to the quality of your insight.
We don’t want to get stuck going down a rabbit hole over one piece of research. Still, our point is that any business that takes on a PR/marketing agency for B2B also needs a realistic budget allocated to collateral creation and generation.
We’ve not even discussed that a great piece of content, such as a report, can even be turned into multiple pieces of content, which requires more investment but can really help amplify the impact.
We’ll save that for another post 🙂
B2B marketing mistake 2: Lack of internal resource
If you plan to hire an agency, having the necessary resources to ensure a successful partnership is crucial.
One of the most common mistakes we see is when CEOs or C-suite executives believe they have the time to manage an agency but don’t.
Another common mistake is assigning the task of managing the agency to a very junior and inexperienced staff member. Their lack of knowledge and experience often flips the relationship on its head, resulting in the agency spending significant extra unbudgeted time in overseeing and guiding the junior staff member.
Ideally, you’ll have someone allocated to PR and marketing who’s an experienced professional and knows how to manage agencies.
To be clear, agencies don’t need close management because they’re incompetent and must always be told what to do.
Often, the best agencies overflow with ideas and require a skilled partner to work alongside them to achieve the best outcomes. Additionally, agencies value being held responsible and generally operate more effectively when working with a well-informed partner with the resources necessary to maximise the partnership’s potential.
As a word of warning, not long ago, we made a point of telling a prospective client that they need internal resources to manage us properly. Sadly, they didn’t listen and tried to do much of it themselves.
The client also underestimated the necessary time investment to get the most out of the relationship, and let’s just say that things went south pretty quickly.
B2B marketing mistake 3: Unrealistic expectations and expecting quick results
B2B marketing in the games industry isn’t a quick thing. It’s not a consumer campaign where you can stick a TV ad on one day and watch the sales roll in the next.
B2B is all about the long game. To use a terrible cliche, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Sorry. There, we said it.
So, taking an agency on and expecting miracles in the first two months is not a reality.
Sure, we can grab clients some PR coverage pretty quickly using the proper insight or data, but this isn’t going to shift the needle.
Because B2B is all about building trust over time, it’s also about a multi-channel (or omni-channel) if you want to get all fancy.
Research from McKinsey in its 2022 report Future of B2B Sales: The Big Reframe said:
“Five years ago, B2B customers had around five distinct marketing and sales touchpoints during their buying experience—now they can have as many as ten”.
Creating enough content and collateral takes time to ensure that your prospects have sufficient exposure to your brand through all these channels. A single report can easily take three to four months from beginning to end.
There are many more reasons why things take time in B2B, such as the media.
It’s not enough to send a press release, pitch to a trade journalist, and expect coverage.
Developing a relationship with the journalist, making them aware of your company and its work, and being open to receiving news are crucial for obtaining coverage.
We’ve encountered too many companies that approach us for a one-time press release, and they rarely succeed. This is mainly because these companies have not invested the time to build a relationship with the journalist.
B2B marketing mistake 4: Focusing solely on media relations
When you’re talking about the games industry in reality, how many trade outlets are there that you care about, and by this, which ones do you really want to appear in that your target prospects will be reading?
In reality, it’ll be less than 10, and there’s no way you’ll have enough interesting world-changing things to say month or month that will warrant you securing coverage in many of these publications.
Sure, your target prospects will be reading the games trade media, but this is why we have discussed a multi-channel approach above when you consider the PESO model central to B2B marketing.
Take a good look at PESO, and you’ll see that the Earned is where the media relations are. You can also see that it’s just one part of a larger picture.
It is crucial to remember that when developing a multi-channel B2B marketing strategy to engage with the games industry, focusing solely on securing media coverage as the primary measure of success can lead to disappointment.
Compelling content drives media coverage. It’s often based on unique data and insights. Instead of obsessing over the media, focus on creating interesting content.
It’s far better to focus on creating great content that solves your target prospects’ problems and then turn it into different formats that can be sent out through distribution channels. In this sense, the media is one of your key distribution channels.
Of course, media engagement isn’t just about sending out press releases. Other ways to increase your chances of media coverage include newsjacking, e.g., jumping on contemporary themes you can comment on and pitching in byline opportunities.
To be clear, the media is essential, and we wouldn’t say otherwise, but you also need to understand its place in the broader marketing mix and have a strategy for those other parts of the marketing mix.
B2B marketing mistake 5: Misunderstanding the role of PR & Marketing
Marketing is not direct response advertising.
We repeat….. marketing is not direct response advertising.
Please reread it and repeat it 100 times before continuing.
Time and time again, we’ve seen clients part ways with agencies because they misunderstand what a marketing agency does and think it’s primarily a direct sales driver.
It’s essential to understand that PR & marketing have many functions beyond directly driving sales, such as:
Building brand awareness and reputation – Good PR helps establish a positive brand image and get people talking about your company. It’s hard to quantify this value directly in sales numbers.
Improving customer loyalty – Through content marketing, social media engagement, and community building, marketing helps strengthen relationships with existing customers. This aids retention and repeat business that may not show immediate sales results.
Educating potential customers – Content like blogs, ebooks, and webinars provides valuable information to prospects, moving them down the sales funnel. But just because a whitepaper download didn’t directly trigger a sale doesn’t mean it wasn’t effective in nurturing a lead.
Many factors affect sales beyond marketing’s control – The state of the economy, market trends and seasonality, internal resource issues like inventory levels or staff bandwidth, and more can all impact sales results. It would be unfair to judge marketing solely on metrics it doesn’t fully own.
Short-term sales spikes shouldn’t be the only success indicator – “Get rich quick” marketing tactics like extreme discounts may temporarily boost sales but can negatively impact long-term brand building and profitability if overused. Judging marketing success mainly through year-over-year or long-tail growth rates gives a more well-rounded picture.
Multi-channel attribution makes isolating the sales impact difficult – Prospects today are likely to engage with a brand across various channels like social media, search ads, and website content before purchasing. Determining marketing’s exact influence on each sale transaction can be statistically challenging. Sales should be viewed as a total gain achieved with marketing’s help rather than an exclusively attributable metric.
In summary, while marketing should ultimately work to impact revenues positively, judging it solely and directly by incremental sales fails to capture its broader brand-building roles.
Marketing success must be assessed through various performance indicators, with an eye towards long-term brand and relationship growth leading to sustained sales expansion over time.
B2B marketing mistake 6: Being dull and clinical
To be crystal clear, B2B doesn’t stand for Boring 2 Boring.
It never fails to amaze us that B2B brands seem to think that their target consumers check their brains at the door when they arrive at the office.
These are the same people globally recognised consumer brands spend millions of dollars targeting with creative and fun campaigns.
…and if you’re reading this and you work in the games industry, well, you also work in one of the most fun industries on the planet, so really, there’s no excuse.
B2B buyers are human too – Even in professional purchasing, people connect more with lively, clever and emotionally engaging messaging rather than dry features and specs alone. Creative B2B content taps into the human element to build rapport.
Creativity can cut through content overload and message fatigue, making it memorable and attention-grabbing for B2B buyers.
Creative branding helps establish deeper connections with customers by making B2B branding more engaging and memorable, creating shared values beyond just business transactions.
Taking a fun approach to B2B signals innovation. Boring marketing indicates a need for more imagination in solving customer problems. Clever content shows fresh perspectives.
A sense of humour boosts shareability. Engaging B2B marketing gets shared more on social media, turbocharging word-of-mouth exposure in a peer referral-driven world.
Take a look look at this concept campaign idea for Workflowplus – a piece of checklist software.
As huge Star Wars fans, we often joke about the lack of health and safety measures in the Star Wars universe, such as the absence of railings on Death Star walkways. So we thought it would be a laugh to explore how software could improve the health and safety standards on the Death Star.
Playful marketing that doesn’t take itself too seriously signals confidence and projects leadership. It humanises brands and makes them more approachable.
In an increasingly crowded marketplace, creative and fun B2B marketing allows brands to connect more authentically while also signalling innovation. The B2B buyer journey should entertain and engage audiences, not bore them to tears.