Using Your Key Differentiators to Create a Marketing Strategy
By Cara Sloman, president and CEO, Force4 Technology Communications, LLC
It can be hard to rise above and get noticed in the very crowded tech market. But in order to succeed, you have to get your message heard. That means you’ve got to be able to differentiate your offering – both from a technology and business value perspective – from your competition.
B2B high tech companies must differentiate themselves with their products, services and customer experiences. This requires creating a sustainable, distinctive positioning that sets you apart from the competition.
Let’s look at how to define your differentiators to create a winning messaging strategy.
What makes you different?
Differentiators combine to create a unique set of benefits that sets your business apart. To determine your own solution or company’s differentiators:
- Examine your competitors: Get to know other vendors’ strengths and weaknesses. What can they do better? Where do they fall short? Take a look at how they’re advertising themselves. What do they highlight? What don’t they talk about?
- Identify the similarities and differences: List everything your business does that your top competitors are not talking about or that you know they don’t do well. Why should a prospect do business with your company instead of with a competitor? In what ways do you overlap with your competition? What can you offer that a competitor does not?
- Look at yourself from your customers’ perspective: The buyer’s journey includes many steps. How do your buyers move from awareness to consideration to purchase? What does your customer expect and how do you meet those expectations? What motivates their buying behavior? What are their pain points? Do they agree with your value proposition?
Rank your differentiators Once you’ve identified your differentiators, you need to rank them in order of importance. Rate each differentiator on the following dimensions:
- What is the level of importance to targeted customers?
- What is the difference from competitors — the greater the difference, the stronger the differentiator.
- What is the ease of achieving and sustaining the differentiator?
- In addition to how easy it is for you to establish and maintain the competitive advantage, how fast can they catch up and/or outpace you?
Other considerations include the relevance to your brand mission and vision — the strongest differentiators closely relate to or support these elements. Finally, prioritize the top three to five differentiators — look for the highest scores on all four dimensions noted above — and identify the lead one
Crafting your message
The ranking exercise has revealed the main and several supporting differentiators. Weave these into the messaging and content creation process. Ensure each differentiator is descriptive and definitive; your meaning should not be something prospects have to guess at. Each should be easy to understand in language that your target customer uses. Ensure the messaging is consistently incorporated in everything you do: website, brochures, presentations, speaking points, social media and so on.
Next, capitalize on buyer personas. Companies can use this information in their B2B PR/marketing messaging to showcase specific differentiators to different buyer personas, depending on their individual business pain. Use buyer personas to build effective strategies. Personas help you figure out how to reach people based on what matters most to them, which in turn helps effective marketing and PR pros deliver the right messages to the right people at the right time. They help to focus keyword research efforts and are used as references when crafting copy.
Track success and refresh as needed
The B2B tech world is a dynamic environment: customer behavior changes, technologies advance, competitor offerings come into the market, regulations and company focus and goals shift. Brands that remain static are at risk of becoming irrelevant and stagnated.
You’ll increase the likelihood of developing a strong and intentional strategy to anticipate and stay ahead by evaluating differentiators quarterly or bi-annually. If you didn’t meet sales goals during this period, could it be because you’ve focused on the wrong differentiators? Or perhaps a differentiator is no longer important to your buyer personas? For instance, maybe a feature that was unique to you is now standard, or prospects are no longer focused on pricing but on getting the exact solution for their specific situation. Keeping the PR and marketing focus in sync with the differentiators that matter now will ensure that your marketing strategy remains relevant.
Use differentiators to evolve your strategy
As buyers have had more access to more information than ever in the past two years, B2B marketing has changed dramatically. Since in-person interactions have become less common, buyers rely more heavily on the content high tech companies put out. The buyer’s journey has changed; it’s more like a Rube Goldberg machine these days than the once neatly plotted-out, linear course.
Differentiation helps your company and your solution stand apart, for investors, prospects, partners and potential new hires alike. That means you’ve got to evolve your strategy. This entails knowing what sets you apart and who your buyers are and focusing your messaging on them. You’ll also need to check in regularly with your data to make sure you are focusing on the right things.
You can do this work in-house or engage the services of a technology PR agency to create consistent messaging that matters to your buyer personas. We’ve been helping B2B tech companies develop differentiated messages for over 20 years, so if you’re looking for expert guidance in this area, look no further! You can contact us here.