Why do B2B marketers still treat content marketing like a sales pitch?

As digital content manager of a B2B publishing company; moderating, proofing and editing third-party content takes up a considerable chunk of my time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love reading (the majority) of B2B content I come across. And I’m happy to admit I still feel surprised – and a little proud – by the ability of passionate B2B marketers to produce compelling and engaging content about often dry and relatively unsexy industry subjects.

Yet herein lies the problem: B2B marketers can sometimes be too passionate about what they sell. They want to shout to the skies about how their service is the best, why their product will deliver unbelievable results, and why their tool will make your job an absolute breeze.

This passion is by no means a negative but, when creating content, marketers need to take a step back and make sure what they’re producing isn’t a sales pitch.

"Although 90% of B2B marketers use content marketing, 30% treat content like advertising"

Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute

The industry has already recognised this at events: no-one wants to convince their boss to part with a few hundred quid for a delegate ticket only to be bombarded with brands bragging about how great their offerings are. Nothing turns a potential buyer off quicker.

So, why are we so slow on the uptake when it comes to content? After all, a B2B buyer’s journey is fascinatingly complex. It’s not merely a case of ‘buyer identifies problem > buyer researches problem > buyer discovers article advertising solution to problem > buyer purchases solution’.

If you build your audience first you can then begin to monetise it. You’ll have built trust and established your brand as thought leaders in your sector, which will be infinitely more impactful on your buyer’s journey than cringe-worthy, self-serving advertising.

Customers will visit your website and digest your content not because they want to be sold to, or are actively looking to make a purchase, but because they find your content genuinely insightful. To summarise, as Joe Pulizzi staunchly argued at last year's B2B Summit: "You must create value for your audience before extracting value". Wise words, and a mantra all B2B marketers should consider adopting.