Even the most obvious position is effective when it is executed consistently and repetitively in all marketing communications. It should be the theme for everything you do in marketing. Yet a compelling position stated once or twice on your website doesn’t move the needle in your effort to claim a position.
If you need to be convinced that differentiation is critical to effective marketing, or you’re convinced but don’t know how to do it, read on.
The claim you make in your positioning statement needs to be substantiated otherwise it is a meaningless claim. Of course a claim that has no basis in fact is impossible to prove, as evidenced by three vendors who sell financial reporting and consolidations software, a market Gartner now calls “Cloud Financial Corporate Performance Management Solutions.”
Many Business Intelligence (BI) software marketers would be well served to read “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.” Most are doing exactly what Ries and Trout identified as a problem way back in 1981 when the book was first published:
If you’re looking for examples of the most common positioning mistakes in B2B software marketing, check out the eleven vendors who offer claims, billing and policy administration software for the insurance industry. Only two companies – EIS Group and Guidewire – are doing positioning right with asterisks. I’ll explain later in this competitive positioning assessment.
In less than a year, eight vendors in the Business Intelligence (BI) market have changed their position, and only Qlik and Panorama took steps in the right direction. Everyone else including SAP, IBM, MicroStrategy, Microsoft and SAS back peddled in their effort to claim a position in the BI market.
Positioning shouldn’t be left to chance. But unless you do your research – I call it the 3Cs of successful positioning – your message to the market has almost no chance of hitting the mark. In this blog, originally written for MarketingProfs’ daily newsletter, I explain why you need to know the 3Cs – your customer, channel and competition – as well as you know your B2B product, service, solution or company.
The best way to claim a position in your market is to stick with it for an extended period of time. The longer you stick with the same position, the more likely you are to claim it. But, many tech companies today, are regularly changing their positioning and messaging.
I recently evaluated the positioning strategies of the major players in the CRM industry including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Sage CRM, Zoho, SAP CRM and many others. My assessment uncovered several mistakes that you should avoid if you want to claim a position in your market. These mistakes work against effective positioning:
Many B2B technology companies change their product position long before they should. You can claim a position in your market by making a unique claim that addresses your target’s No. 1 problem, and repeat it over and over until you are sick of it. Then consistently execute it over an extended period of time, like several years, if not longer.
Whether you call it Corporate Performance Management (CPM) or Business Performance Management (BPM), some of the vendors in this enterprise software market are struggling to position their products effectively. This is my annual review of how CPM/BPM vendors are positioned in the market for budgeting, planning, forecasting and financial reporting. In the last year, two of the market leaders – IBM and SAP – have finally positioned their product offering. A year ago, both had such muddled product messages that they had no position at all.
Many companies fail to position effectively because they don’t use a set of criteria to evaluate their work. They come up with a positioning statement and run with it. Their chances of success aren’t great because they have no way of knowing whether the target audience will respond positively to their positioning statement.
It’s important to develop a compelling product positioning strategy, and even more important to execute it consistently and repetitively. So how important is positioning? It’s the key to successful B2B marketing because it is foundation for everything you do in marketing.
A message strategy audit determines the effectiveness of your positioning strategy and whether you need to change or tweak it. The audit assesses your situation by answering these three basic questions:
The marketing folks at Xerox clearly understand the importance of consistency and repetition in positioning effectively. By positioning, I mean the mental space that you can “own” with an idea that has compelling meaning to the recipient. It’s in this mental space where an important benefit and the customer’s most important need meet, and hopefully stick.
If there’s a disconnect between your sales and marketing teams, neither will reach their full potential. In this blog, you’ll find out why involving your channel in the positioning process is a key ingredient in successful marketing and sales. At the same time, it helps establish and maintain a relationship that pays off for both you and your channel.
There is often a debate about what positioning is, and what it is not. Confusing matters further, there are two proper usages of “positioning:”
It’s been almost 25 years since Bill Gates proclaimed that “Windows 3.0 will transform the way you use a PC.” At the time it was an interesting, relatively unique positioning concept, and it succeeded because it was true, first and foremost, but also it had been tested, and Microsoft knew it would work. It addressed the pain associated with MS/DOS; it was unique, and it was repeated over and over throughout the world during the life of 3.0.
I was involved in a positioning project where I almost got axed for advocating that we needed to pick one target buyer; I thought it should be the CIO. But the client insisted that every deal is different with different buyers, and it was even suggested that we needed to message to the end user, not to mention the CEO, COO, CFO, line of business manager, and the list went on. It was no way to start a project because no matter the buying situation, one of the keys to successful positioning is to make the tough choice, and decide who usually is the most influential person in the buying process.