B2B Marketing 101: Differentiating Yourself

Posted: August 18, 2010 in B2B, CMO
Tags: , ,

No doubt, if you are a chief or senior marketer in a business that is predominantly B2B, you understand that it is all about differentiating your product or service. This is resoundingly true if you are in a hyper-competitive industry or if you have more than a handful of major competitors. A good portion of success in bringing in clients or partners rests with the Sales team and how strong they are in communicating the value proposition. But at least an equal portion resides with Marketing, and arming the Sales team with unique selling points and a unique way to make those selling points actually come to life. At most B2B organizations, the company’s employees – and especially the Marketing team – are in business to serve the Sales team even if there are no direct reporting lines in place.

What can chief marketers do to reach B2B “Rock Star” status that so many B2C CMO’s have seemingly achieved? For one, help Sales walk the walk as well as talking the talk. Specifically, there are five strategies that go “beyond the PowerPoint” I’ve seen be most successful:

1)      Create A Great Theme

Having a theme, motto or tagline to your sales proposition is important. It signifies creativity, and if done really well, is memorable. Tying your core business message to an actual themed event works even better! One example from Traffic Marketplace plays on their theme to advertising clients of “Reach, target, engage.” It is a great concise motto which is easy to remember. The follow up to that? An “Engagement Party” for clients, taking the motto to the next level and involving people in a like-themed physical event where people can interact with the company and brand. Very powerful.

2)      Actually DO something totally different than your competitors

One of the tactics I employed at Epic Media Group was to launch a 28-page print publication. Nothing different about that, right? Well, Epic’s core business is entirely advertising-based and entirely digital. The print magazine was not ad-supported, was free for subscribers and in print (with an online reader available). By launching something in print to utilize as a sales tool, which was totally unexpected and something no one else was doing, the company was able to stand out and increase their thought leadership standing to clients. Something like this shows you’re not afraid to take some risk and be creative.

3)      Offer Unique Promotions and Incentives

Fundamentally, when marketing a business in a B2B environment, you’re trying to make incremental gains not only for your own entity, but for your clients too. The value proposition has to be a win-win, or else no one wins. By injecting unique incentives to clients that benefit everyone, you can accomplish a win-win. An example? By spending X$ incrementally, a client can qualify for Y. The Y’s can be anything from sports events, behind-the-ropes access to famous venues, extra monetary credit in the future, preferred payment terms or any host of other appealing items.

4)      Public Relations

A strong PR strategy for B2B companies is at least as important as for B2C companies, perhaps more so. The reason? The sheer volume of competitors and clutter in the marketplace for companies offering like services. B2B companies have to manage their brand not only in consumer’s eyes, but in client’s eyes. There’s an extra layer. This provides a bigger challenge for B2B companies aiming to ensure their company and value proposition is sterling. Make sure you’re media trained and understand that B2B companies have important brand management issues at stake too.

5)      Philanthropy

Finally, do not forget about philanthropy & charity as part of your company’s mission. I wrote an extended piece on this in Advertising Age. It is not only the right thing for companies to do, but it is a great way for B2B companies to come to the forefront of consumer’s minds and extend their brand. Also, not many B2B companies are focused on this – many of the best philanthropic programs are normally spearheaded by large CPG and B2C companies – so this can be another area you differentiate your company. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to install a very effective and far-reaching program, too.

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