Are B2B technology companies practicing “me too” positioning on purpose?

I admit to being a critic of B2B technology companies that practice “me too” positioning and messaging. I think it slows down sales cycles and causes confusion in the market. Plus who doesn’t want to differentiate themselves from their competitors? Yet every B2B software market I follow has at least two companies making the same claim. In the Business Intelligence market, there are seven lemmings all claiming better, faster decisions.

It has never occurred to me that they copying each other on purpose. That’s what one executive thinks they are doing, and he thinks I’m pretty naïve.

“Me too” saves money

“Lawson, “me to” is a proven successful business strategy,” this executive wrote in an e-mail. “In order differentiate your product’s messaging, you need to spend more on R&D and marketing than your competitors. If you did manage to find some advantage, it would be short lived because your competition would simply copy your messaging making the same claims.”

“If the new capabilities were appreciated by customers, your competitors would then build similar capabilities in the product in the next release of the product.   So, often the “me to” message is the most effective business strategy for many companies to pursue, because it minimizes R&D and marketing costs, while still winning an acceptable percentage of the overall market spend on the product category. It is simply one way to play the game.”

Me too” is a losing strategy

I think it’s a losing strategy and this executive is giving the “me too” marketers far too much credit – most B2B technology marketing executives don’t know how to do positioning, and therefore, they don’t even realize they are copying their competitors’ messaging. Yet, authors Al Ries and Jack Trout have preached forever the importance of knowing your competitors’ positioning strategy as well as you know your own.

Ries and Trout lament the fact that “too many companies embark on marketing and advertising as if the competitor’s positions did not exist. They advertise their products in a vacuum and are disappointed when their messages fail to get through.”

With “Me too” you have no position

The biggest drawback to “me too” positioning is that it eliminates any chance of claiming a position in your market. Owning a position is invaluable – that mental space in your target audience’s mind that you can occupy with an idea that has meaning to the recipient. Without effective positioning, your chances of creating awareness for your product are reduced, and even worse, your chances of being in your prospect’s consideration set are almost eliminated.

Positioning always occurs in a competitive environment. Therefore, a positioning statement must state a benefit no other company is making. When you make a unique claim, two things happen. First, you raise a barrier to the competition. Second, you increase desirability of your offering. These two outcomes can significantly impact sales volume, market share and profitability. “Me too” positioning negatively impacts all three.

If you want to tell a better story about your B2B software or technology than your competitor, and one that matters to the market, download my ebook “Positioning: How to talk so the market will listen.”