Why performance isn’t performing the same

If we had to call it, here’s the most fundamental issue with paid media in B2B: 

Way too often it ends up being surface-level “experiments” to test images, colors and words. 

Unfair to many of course, but most of us have been there, right?

The more we work on performance marketing though, the more we realize what really needs to be at the center of it: 


Here’s what we mean:

  1. Compelling messaging is the biggest success factor for paid media in B2B
  2. Paid media is one of the best ways to test messaging on an ongoing basis

And to be clear, simply testing some words along with images and colors isn’t the same as a methodical approach to establish and refine messaging. 

To cut right to the chase, we think the pairing of performance marketing and strategic messaging is so underrated that we’re dedicating every Friday in the month of March to discuss it.

Starting Friday, March 3, we’ll gather for a live Q&A at 1 pm Eastern Time for one hour to tackle every issue you may think of at the intersection of performance and messaging. 

You can reserve your spot for free here. 

But since we’re still a week away, let’s keep going right now… 

Remember when “thought leaders” from agencies could talk about spending endless dollars on paid media – and it actually seemed to work? 

Well, if it did actually work back then, it doesn’t seem to work the same now. 

It’s not that you can’t drive results with performance marketing anymore. 

But beyond the fact that messaging may not have been at the center of these programs, here’s how the game has changed over just the past couple of years: 

Categories were growing way faster than most of us realized, and there may have been an artificially high amount of demand to pick up. 

Isn’t that essentially what companies are telling us about jobs too when they’re regretfully announcing their layoffs? Anyway…

Capturing a decent amount of existing demand wasn’t enough – B2B Marketingland quickly got swept up by the “create demand” wave, which started with an emphasis on paid media and especially paid social. 

The idea was to pay whatever it took to get your content in front of right-fit buyers. That would educate them and magically create demand. 

Then “dark social” came along, and suddenly that was the place to just drop all your great content into for demand to be created, magically of course. 

So what happened with paid media? 

We’re gonna let somebody else whine about third-party data and iOS 14 because the bottom line is this:

Sh!t got tight.

And we can no longer just go spend thousands of dollars on ads the way we used to and think we’re gonna grow at the rate we’re being asked to grow the business. 

Last week we insisted that it’s not about efficiency – it’s about precision and impact. 

Performance marketing is a perfect example of this truth. And precision in paid media is first and foremost about messaging. Not colors or images or just some words. The creative obviously matters, but nothing really works without compelling and differentiated messaging. 

We can no longer gloss over this step in performance marketing or see it as a set-it-and-forget-it thing. Messaging work is increasingly becoming an ongoing effort for you to evolve in along with buyers’ thinking.

So, the more precise we can get on messaging, the more impactful we can be.

Again, you’re welcome to join us at the live community event every Friday in March where we’ll discuss and answer any questions you may have about performance and messaging.