Jul 10, 2019

Common Marketing Mistakes and Pitfalls in the B2B Food and Beverage Industry (and How You Can Avoid Them)

Did you know that 90% of food and beverage businesses, be they consumer-facing or business-facing, fail within the first few years of business? In recent times, B2B food and beverage companies have relied on technology to help mitigate risk. For example, e-commerce platforms are a dominant trend in the industry, as they help businesses dealing in perishable goods with a short time to market deliver their products more efficiently to customers 

But despite predictions that e-commerce spending by the food and beverage sector will reach $1 trillion by 2020, many businesses are still failing to achieve a strong ROI. Below we look at the most common pitfalls that often hinder B2B food and beverage companies from reaching their potential.  

Not researching the competition

Competition is fierce in this industry, so much so that 53% of B2B food and beverage companies are losing out on deals to their competitors. Often the culprits are obvious and include things like pricing and a cumbersome sales experience. However, one major culprit can be found in the marketing, and it’s a mistake that occurs even before launching the campaign: failing to properly research the competition.  

It’s imperative to develop a competitive analysis/competition research plan and execute it thoroughly. This doesn’t have to be overly complicated, either. Easy steps to putting together such a plan include identifying your top 10 competitors and then compare and contrast your marketing content with all of their content.

Say a competitor has a greater share of the total market than you do, and you notice that they’re blogging more frequently than you are plus they’re publishing webinars and case studies. If the quality of this content holds up, then it will be a glaring signal that you need to up that aspect of your content game as well.

The next steps are to analyze your competitors SEO strategies and use of keywords, as well as analyze their social media presence. Then you’ll have the major tools needed to identify all areas for improvement. 

Not having a strong value proposition

We’ve established that competition is a killer in the B2B world. So if your goal is to overcome this obstacle while at the same time boosting click-through and lead generation, then you need to have a strong value prop. If you have yet to define your value to the market, then you can start simply with what’s called a short-form value proposition statement/argument.

Imagine you’re presented with a direct question from your ideal customer: “Why should I buy from you as opposed to the competition?” When answering this query, your short-form value proposition argument should be as direct as possible, using strong adjectives and adverbs to communicate a few authoritative points. For example:

  • Because we’ve been leaders in the food & beverage industry for 50 years
  • Because we’re the only food & beverage operator that can handle all your product needs
  • Because we provide the most flexible and cost-effective service of any of our competitors

You get the picture. Of course, there are wrong ways to go about creating a value proposition, and one of the easiest pitfalls is succumbing to vagueness and generalities. Such hollow value props might include statements like:

  • Our business puts people first
  • Because we love what we do
  • Our brand delivers the product/service our customers want

Those examples are certainly positive sentiments, but they communicate no real value to the customer. Therefore they become little more than a collection of random words strung together and signifying nothing of much substance. 

The point is to rely on solid competitive analysis to determine those things you excel at over your competitors and then give your copywriters and marketers the freedom to hammer those points home with authority. 

Not creating buyer personas

We no longer exist in a world where advertisers can cast a wide marketing net and appeal to a large audience based solely on demographics; now it’s all about defining consumer segments. Particularly, it’s crucial to success in the B2B realm to create buyer personas. Who is truly your ideal customer? To determine this, the best strategy is to create a fictional version of him/her. 

Who is this person that makes the buying decisions for the business you’re selling to? What are their attributes? For B2B customers, you can determine this based on a few fundamental traits. These include: 

  • Demographic info like age/location/company/industry/education/background
  • Lifestyle—how do they organize their day and what activities do they engage in?
  • How long they’ve been employed by the business in question
  • What media channels they turn to for information
  • Their goals and motivations within the company
  • Pain points—what’s preventing them from being satisfied with products and services?

After you’ve answered these questions you can then move onto researching your ideal buyer and target specific companies/buyers. Use social media resources like LinkedIn company bios for this as well as data-mining tools like Google Analytics. Once you have all this info, you can then create a fully-fleshed out bio for a semi-fictional individual you are trying to convert to a customer.


The future of the B2B food and beverage sector is bright. There are many exciting trends that will define the near future, including advances in food science and personalized nutrition, more digital disruption in the food space, plus it’s increasingly important to appeal to millennials and young generations. And it will be all but impossible for B2B F&B brands to capitalize on these trends if they’re stuck making the same mistakes of yesterday.

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