Transformation overused in B2B positioning

Future ImageIt’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.

Windows 3.0 was a smashing success, and helped popularize the notion of transformation as a way to position in the B2B world. Today, in just about every B2B technology market, at least one company is making some sort of transformational claim. In the Corporate Performance Management (CPM) market, two fierce competitors both claim to be transformational.

Without doing extensive research, I found nine B2B technology companies in seven different markets using transformation to position their company, product or solution on their web site.

Clearly, transformation as a positioning concept is overused, which is just one of several reasons you should avoid it at all costs. I’ll even go as far as to advise that you don’t mention transformation in any of your marketing communications.

That’s because transformation is so overused that target audiences have become jaded. They’ve heard it so much that they either ignore it or roll their eyes and call bull shit.

Lack of credibility makes transformation an even less desirable position to claim. While it is debatable whether any of the companies making the claim do, in fact, deliver on their promise to transform, none of them explain how they do it. They don’t deliver the proof to substantiate the claim. And they don’t even explain what transformation means to the target buyer; how will it make the buyer’s life better? What problem does this transformation solve?

One problem it definitely doesn’t solve is lack of differentiation. Even if no other competitor is using transformation, it is so common in B2B marketing that it is suicidal to use it. Making transformation even less desirable is reality – it means a total change; turned from one form into another. Now how many products, technologies or companies deliver such dramatic change?

Not many, if any. Sure software and technology help business do things faster, and better. But transform? Your target market is much too cynical to accept the claim. Try something much more compelling.

Need proof that transformation is overused in B2B marketing? My quick-and-dirty market scan found these companies positioning around the notion of transformation:

Corporate performance management (CPM)
– IBM Cognos® TM1® is an enterprise planning software platform that can transform your entire planning cycle, from target setting and budgeting to reporting, score carding, analysis and forecasting.

– Host Analytics, Inc. offers everything you need to transform your enterprise into a high-performing organization. With no hardware or software to install or maintain, you’re up and running fast with Finance managing the application.

– Transform with Cloud CPM and Budgeting Software. Finally – an alternative to Excel and on-premise tools. It’s cloud CPM and budgeting software that’s intuitive and easy to run (Adaptive Planning).

Business intelligence (BI)
– Organizations have THE POWER TO KNOW® with SAS, using advanced analytics for fact-based decision making that transforms the way they do business.

Performance management
– IBM performance management solutions help transform slow, expensive and disconnected performance planning and management processes into dynamic, efficient and connected experiences, serving finance, line-of-business and IT professionals alike and helping to create “analytics-driven” organizations.

IT consulting services
– CSC is a global powerhouse in business and technology transformation. Our people help businesses, governments and communities solve their toughest challenges.

Customer service – KANA
– Transforming the customer service experience: Service experiences that count build great brands. That’s why we’re dedicated to building the innovative solutions that deliver them—for our customers and for yours.

Apple
– Whether it’s the iPad Air or the iPad mini with Retina display, there’s an iPad for every business. With iOS 7 and thousands of business apps, iPad transforms the way you work.

Staples web site headline
– How the New Microsoft Office 2013 Can Transform Your Business

Read my free ebook “Positioning: How to talk so the market will listen” so you can avoid over-used buzzwords like transformation.