There are lots of reasons why B2B software and technology companies struggle to get their message heard. The root cause is ineffective positioning, and it raises its ugly head in many ways. Here are five reasons ineffective positioning fails to get the target audience to listen and take notice:
- No position but instead a data dump. Some companies describe their product in great detail and think they’ve done a good job of positioning it. When in fact, they have no position because they aren’t stating a benefit, the reason the target audience should care. With no benefit statement that addresses the target audience’s most pressing problem, the target audience won’t listen.
Here’s an example of a positioning statement that describes the product but fails to state a benefit: “To simplify an overly complex hiring process, we’ve built solutions from the ground up that address the hiring process end-to-end—from the time a candidate is identified and you begin to draft the offer letter, through screening and onboarding to the time your new hire is fully engaged in your organization..”
A description of what a product does – no matter how much detail – will not move the awareness needle or help establish a position in the market. Good positioning will which is why it is so important in B2B marketing. Find out why positioning is so important by reading this blog:
- Multiple claim positioning statements. Some companies make three or more claims in the same sentence. Which one is the position? Mostly likely none of the claims. The target market is more likely to respond to a simple claim rather than multiple claims that are hard for the target audience to absorb.
Here’s an example of a multiple claim positioning statement: “Aviana turns insights into knowledge with solutions that offer the highest ROI by providing effective decision making and precise and accurate information across the entire business to ensure peak performance.”
Ideally your positioning statement contains one benefit that addresses the target audience’s most pressing problem. Two benefits is OK as long as they don’t compete for supremacy, and they fit together nicely and logically. But stating more than two benefits is a sure way to confuse the market and fail in your effort to claim a position. To learn more about the pitfalls of multi-claim positioning statements, check out this blog:
- Inconsistency and lack of repetition. A position statement should be the central theme of all your marketing communications. Most companies don’t even carry a consistent theme throughout their web site. Yet consistent and repetitious execution of your positioning statement is the most important step you can take in claiming a position in your market.
A weak positioning statement, consistently and repeatedly executed over a period of at least 18 months, is far more effective than a strong positioning statement that is inconsistently executed, and changes every year, if not sooner. The link to the blog below includes an example how to execute a positioning statement with different words and not change the conceptual idea behind the positioning statement:
- No differentiation. In almost every B2B technology market I follow, at least two competitors are making identical claims. In the Business Intelligence market, seven companies position identically. It is next to impossible to claim a position when more than one competitor is making the same claim.
In their marketing classic, “Positioning: The Battle for your Mind,” Ries and Trout lament that “… too many companies embark on marketing and advertising as if the competitor’s position did not exist. They advertise their products in a vacuum and are disappointed when their messages fail to get through.”
Want a real-world example of two fierce competitors making the same claim? In the Corporate Performance Management market, Host Analytics and Adaptive Insights claim to be the market leader and position their offering around the notion of “transformation.” They need to read this blog about how to differentiate:
- Use of “in vogue” words that have little or no meaning to the target buyer. B2B marketers are copycats. Once they discover a word they think is cool, they use it over and over to their detriment. Almost every B2B marketer is using words like “transformation,” “innovation,” “empower,” “game changer,” and “insight” to name just a few popular words. The problem is that by using these words, you sound the same as everyone else. And if you sound the same, you won’t stand out from the crowd.
“Transformation” is without a doubt the most overused word by B2B marketers and even those in the media. Everywhere you turn, someone is transforming something. But are they, really? I don’t think so, and this blog explains why you should avoid using “transformation” in your marketing copy:
How do you avoid these mistakes? Do your research and know your customers and your competitors as well as you know your own product. Identify your target buyers’ No. 1 problem and develop a positioning statement that states in a benefit way the solution to the problem. Test your positioning statement by using a set of criteria. Your target audience will listen when your positioning statement is unique, important, believable and usable. Learn more about how to position by downloading my eBook: Positioning – How to talk so the market will listen.