I had the pleasure of being a podcast guest on Stephan Spencer’s MARKETING SPEAK to talk about creative B2B marketing insights for developing a competitive advantage. It was great fun! thank you @StephanSpencer #marketingspeak # #b2b#contentmarketing#brand#podcast#sales. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation…

When you are selling B2C, it’s a shorter sales cycle. It’s a lot more impulsive purchase. B2B, it’s a longer sales cycle, it’s more involved, there are more touchpoints and more vetting. So you have to kind of break it down for people.

You have to be there for their research cycles, and you have to be there for their consideration cycles. It’s not going to be an impulse purchase. If you’re buying or selling tens of thousands of dollars of technology, technology services, or any such thing (or what we call high involvement), it really makes the sales process and the marketing process much more complex. And it has to be integrated, and it has to be thoughtful in its timing. It also has to, more importantly, have to appeal to the person that’s ultimately buying it on a visceral personal and business level.

So you have to get them where they’re going to appreciate the value of using your product or service, from their perspective of their professional lives and personal lives. Like, “Hey, if I buy this, or if I do this with this company, my job is secure. And I’m going to look like a hero.” So it’s a double down. So you have to look at it as the value play for both personal and professional. That’s how I see the differentiation.

Stephan: Right. And one thing that I think a lot of folks get wrong in the B2B world is they have too little personality or very kind of a cold presence to their company. And they don’t look human or personal to the marketplace because people buy from people; they don’t buy from faceless corporations.

That’s so funny that you brought that up, and I’m so glad you did. Because that was going to be my next point is that B2B brands, the ones that we often work with, and the technology companies and the fortune 100, and the fortune 10, and so on, they forget that they are selling to people. That’s exactly right.

Many secondary and tertiary brands are afraid to go out there and structure and create a personality, a point of differentiation that doesn’t look, feel, walk, talk, act like everybody else. And that’s really where we try to get them to go. What makes you have a personality, have a differentiation? Like even the way you show up in your marketing has to be different, right?

You have to use creative B2B marketing tactics in order to develop a competitive advantage.

So I think it’s making the complex simple. It’s sort of like you don’t want to talk down to people, and you don’t want to insult their intelligence, but you want to make sure that they get that it’s not as complicated as some would make it out to be or it’s accessible to you. And here’s how you engage.

So I think we do a lot of good sales enablement work. So we make it very clear to the prospect and the customer that it’s not as complicated as they might think to do business with the company, to work with the company. And we have B2B clients that do a lot of channel marketing. So they’re competing in a space where they’re not the only brand that their customers sell. 

For instance, you are selling through distributors or value-added resellers or all that kind of thing. So if you’re Intel, you’re going to have your competitors as AMD. Whatever the case may be, you’re going to have hardware software and peripheral and SaaS providers that are competing with you for the share of mind of that particular entity.

So how do you differentiate if they’re selling the same stuff, right? How will you differentiate? Well, maybe it’s easy to engage, it’s easier to deploy, it’s easier to manage, maintain, blah, blah, blah, right? And then the way you look, feel, the way you show up with the brand, the essence of the brand, and the identity has to be in alignment with that messaging.

That is oftentimes where we have to have that conversation with the client. Here’s what the rest of your ecosystem looks like, here’s where they’re all competing, almost like a Gartner Magic Quadrant with perceived “whitespace”–we assess that. Where do you want to own that nobody else is playing? And that’s where you want to be. We help clients figure that part out and develop positioning, branding, and messaging to support it.

Stephan: And that’s referred to by some as “blue ocean,” right? So what would be an example where you are establishing yourself in a blue ocean, or a place where we’re nobody else is playing? Like for you as ondemandCMO? 

It’s funny you said that because I think many agencies like to play in the branding and identity space, and they love creating the look and feel. And other companies like to be in that marketing automation space, or they like to be in the social media space.

While the space where we’re playing is completely agnostic, which you can’t scale, so that’s why people don’t like to play in that space, and honestly, sales enablement. We narrow the gap between what happens once you establish your messaging, positioning, and strategy when you go out to the marketplace, great, and then what?

We are the “and then what?” people. So that’s where we differentiate our whitespaces. Not many agencies are good at incentivizing the channel to buy from that customer; not many agencies are good at creating messaging that goes to the indirect channel partner. We do channel marketing very well. If you can create a consistent brand based on your white space and message, create strong sales enablement for all your types of sellers, and support with strong nurture and lead gen, you’ll have the B2B secret sauce working for you!

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