“Top of Mind” is B2B Marketing Schmaltz


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Sometimes I wonder if we ever stop and think about the marketing terms we use and what they really mean. Do we use them as excuses not to dig deeper into what will make our marketing more effective? Or, are we just satisfied with the surface level, instead of motivated deeper to make sure our intentions are realized in the execution? Or, perhaps, it’s just that good enough is good enough. I don’t think so. Not in this market.

Yep, you guessed it. I’m on a bit of a rant.

There are some phrases that – as they’re commonly applied to B2B marketing – are, well, schmaltz. In case you’re not sure what schmaltz means, Dictionary.com seems to be split between 1. exagerrated sentimentalism and 2. fat or grease. I think you can apply a little of both to this one.

In order to give 2011 a running shot at excellence, let’s disabuse ourselves of this ridiculous notion:

Staying “Top of Mind” will get you more sales.

Theorectically this is possible. But not based on the way it’s currently put into practice by most B2B companies. Especially if the message you use to stay top of mind has no value to your audience, but serves simply to make marketers feel like they’ve done their job because they can check a communication off their list. “Got our logo in front of our database. Job done.”

Nope – you really didn’t. Consider that:

  • Most email is not memorable.
  • Most messaging is oriented in the wrong direction (about what the company sending it wants, not what the audience wants/needs).
  • Most email is deleted without being read or acted upon.

Given just those 3 realities, how do you think your current messaging will help you stay top of mind?

Get over the “top of mind” idea and replace it with the “best recognizable value” idea.

[recognizable is the pivotal word, in case you’re wondering]

I’m really tired of the companies who mistakenly believe that their shoddy, self-serving emails will have me think of them favorably, should the need arise. Trust me, it’s the same for your prospects. In reality, those companies are training me that they are the last company I’d call if I need what they sell.

Why? No recognizable value has been received to date, so why should I think that would change? What do you think your prospects think about your emails?

Go take a look at your email messaging and see which of the following Kudos you’d give it:

  • The subject line is specific.
  • The greeting isn’t cheesy.
  • The message delivers on the subject line.
  • The message is personalized for the audience based on interests, and hopefully, buying stage.
  • The message is about something they want/need.
  • The call to action offers them something useful – even if they don’t buy or fill out a form or request a call with your sales rep.
  • There are no huge blocks of text to slog through.
  • The sentences are short and clear with no jargon in sight.
  • The gist can be understood in less than 20 seconds. (that’s if you get their attention in the first place)
  • If they don’t download the graphics, the message still makes sense.

The best way to do this is to send your marketing emails to your own inbox and get the full experience. When’s the last time you did that?

What other marketing phrases do you think should be outed as SCHMALTZ?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.


  1. Hi, Ardeth…
    Brilliant. Sounds like Blue Ocean Strategy to me! 🙂

    More for you:
    1) Engage your audience. This is perhaps the worst social media offender. It’s almost as if we’re collectively agreeing that the “social media opportunity” is to be top-of-mind here too — to be self-deprecating funny, memorable and all that stuff. But in a new way that is not new at all. In fact, most of what we call engagement (in practice) is broadcasting.

    2) “The rules governing business have radically changed.” This is the fundamental idea behind the fake/SCHMALTZ revolution itself.

    3) Social currency. Have you ever wondered which CEOs are satisfied with earning social currency rather than dollars or euros? You know, the CEO’s that we hear so much about in books and keynote speeches given by social media gurus. Where are these people? Of course, these people exist only in the minds of their inventors.

    4) We’ve “lost control of the conversation” with customers. Aside from never having control we risk missing the point. Instantaneous, ubiquitous digital communication is NOT creating new power for customers. It’s actually amplifying their existing power.

    All of this nonsense raises a serious question. Could the result of this unbridled enthusiasm (schmaltz) be combining with our urgent need to create results… in ways that don’t serve us well?

    Given the rush of nearly every living soul into the Social Web, and all the revolutionary fanfare, could we be losing track of what we set out to achieve?

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your addition to the conversation. I think your last sentence raises a great question. But, what if what we set out to achieve wasn’t really the right goal? Maybe we should spend a bit more time thinking it through.

    What do you think?


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