3 Things Peloton’s Worst Nightmare Can Teach B2B Marketers

If brand awareness alone were a metric for success, Peloton’s controversial advertisement was an act of genius.

According to CNN, there were more Google searches for “Peloton” than for “impeachment” last week. Yet, Peloton’s value is plummeting as their shares went down more than 10%. Yikes.

Clearly, all publicity is not good publicity. Brand awareness needs to be tied to a positive brand image.

My take

When I saw the Peloton commercial for the first time, I knew something was ‘off’. It seemed strangely disingenuous, and almost satirical.

Who would film themselves using an exercise bike for a year… then cut and edit the footage and make it into a video, then show it to their spouse as a Christmas present? Strange, if you ask me.

Also, I’m unclear, is her new body (post-transformation) supposed to be his Christmas present? Or is the video the Christmas present? Or is it the way she feels about herself now, and that’s like a gift to him?

Even if you didn’t find it personally offensive, you can see why other people do.

Did they think about maybe showing this to a human or two before letting it run wild across the harsh, unforgiving interweb? Don’t they have ‘focus groups’ for this sort of thing?

These are probably not the types of questions Peloton’s marketing department wants you to ponder after watching their ad. They probably want you to think more along the lines of, “Wow, that looks cool, where can I buy one?”

Prospects are people, too.

Whether B2B or B2C, we are all in the business of people. We need to provide relevant, engaging content to our target audience if we want our marketing efforts to be successful.

Three takeaways from the Peloton disaster we can use in B2B marketing? Get to know your audience, provide them with relevant content, and ensure an authentic customer experience.

1. Know your audience

One of the issues people had with Peloton’s ad was that it seemed to suggest that women need men to buy them exercise bikes. In an environment that celebrates independent, ass kicking women more than ever, this is understandably offensive. Peloton would have benefitted from some customer research and market insights to cater their messaging to their target personas.

Become familiar with your potential buyers. Conduct research on your existing customers and your best prospects most likely to buy before you try to communicate with them. What’s their content flavor-of-the-week?

It’s as simple as mining your CRM for people who bought in the last year, those who didn’t, and any notes to indicate how they flowed through the process. That coupled with customer and prospect interviews to learn preferences will inform your campaign strategy.

2. Provide relevant content

In the age of the buyer’s journey, B2B marketers know that ‘content is king’. But keep in mind that while content matters – relevancy matters more.

The purpose of developing buyer personas and mapping their journeys is about relevancy—delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

Modern marketers must combine engaging content with company and contact level data points for maximum impact. This means understanding your ideal buyer personas and curating content to meet them where they’re at in the buyer’s journey.

Most people agree: the Peloton ad missed the mark. To avoid a similar mishap, make sure to constantly be testing, improving, and updating your content and messaging.


3. Be authentic

In the eyes of your prospects, an objective review, referral, or testimonial praising your organization will be perceived as more credible than any multi-million-dollar ad campaign.

B2B organizations use case studies and success stories to showcase the practical ways their solutions help everyday companies.

When it comes to customer testimonials, faking it is not a viable option. If you want to show how your product or service helped a company succeed, make sure your message is believable and authentic.

This is the most critical part where the Peloton team dropped the ball. Their ‘testimonial’ was neither realistic nor relatable. Instead, they should have highlighted the virtual community of real Peloton users who actually use the product and have truly experienced results. Or, they could have shown how feeling physically stronger makes a woman feel mentally stronger.

Final takeaway

Just be human. If you’re not, well, your marketing spend is a potential weapon of mass destruction. Take time to empathize with your prospects and customers. Then use that research to provide them with relevant content. Finally, just be yourself.

Whatever you do, don’t pull a Peloton.

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