Once you have found the ideal positioning for your company or offering, you should stick with it for an extended period – at least 18 months and the longer the better – several years; perhaps forever. That’s because consistency and repetition are the keys to claiming a position in your market and giving it staying power.
Based on the results from the survey I’m conducting, B2B software and technology marketers desperately need a realistic way to self-assess their positioning effectiveness. That’s because 69% of respondents (137) think they are doing a good job of positioning, but the evidence suggests many are kidding themselves.
Seventy percent of the respondents to the survey I am conducting say positioning is the most important aspect of marketing, yet only seven out of 132 respondents learned how to do positioning in college. It makes me wonder whether college marketing departments are in touch with the real world.
You need a strong foundation to effectively market your B2B software or technology product. That foundation is your message strategy. Everything you do in marketing should be built upon it.
I don’t think B2B technology marketers have any idea what a true transformation is. Transformation means to change from one form to another. Caitlyn Jenner is a good example of a transformation. With Caitlyn in mind, how many businesses turn into something totally different? One in one hundred, maybe. And how many B2B software companies are truly changing the way their customers do business? None.
I make a living helping B2B software companies position effectively, but I recently sent an e-mail to a prospect telling him to hire a good writer rather than me. While the prospect’s position wasn’t very compelling, the writing was terrible. The prospect needed a quick fix, not a several month positioning project. I felt a good writer would give the prospect time to do positioning right.
I often tell my B2B clients that they need to prove any claim they make. That’s partially because I’m a journalist by trade, and believe it or not, journalists don’t last long if they write stories that lack the facts.
Why is it that consistency and repetition are so critical in your effort to claim a position in your market?
Lack of consensus about the marketing message is one of the most common problems I’ve experienced in my B2B software career. The best way to overcome this problem is to adopt a positioning process that seeks input and feedback throughout the organization, and includes executive management approval of your positioning strategies.
Why do B2B technology and software marketers use buzzwords when they are of questionable value and contribute to “me too” messaging? I am conducting a survey about how companies do positioning, and the answers to this question shed light on why the use of buzzwords is so prevalent:
One way to insure that members of the management team use your positioning strategies is to seek their formal approval for each one. Members of the management team communicate regularly with important market influencers, including financial analysts, industry analysts and media, all of whom need to hear the same coherent message – a concise, compelling reason for why they should invest, recommend or write about your company, its products and services.
It will be time to buy Microsoft stock when it eliminates “empower” from its corporate vocabulary.
This is a sensitive subject. It involves taking an unflinching look at the inner you, and committing yourself to a quest for the truth. No, I’m not talking about the latest fad in philosophy or munching magic mushrooms. My subject is developing your product’s positioning strategy – and the potential negative impact preconceived notions, biases and egos can have on it.
Lack of differentiation is a common problem in B2B technology marketing. A little less common but more problematic is a failure to make it clear on the home page what a company’s product is and what it does. I can’t tell you how many web sites I’ve visited recently that make it almost impossible to figure out the company’s product category (what is it?) and what it does.
Here’s a tip that makes it a lot easier to consistently deliver the same message in all your marketing communications from your web site to brochures to press releases. Create message strategies for anything important such as products, services and your company. Then use your message strategies religiously in all your marketing activities, repeating them over and over and over and over.
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.
Conviction is an important intangible that can make or break your positioning strategy. You begin to develop conviction through research about your customer, competition and channel. But that’s not enough to give you the conviction you need to stand up to powerful political forces in your company that may shoot holes in even the most compelling positioning strategy.
A good positioning strategy can do more than create awareness and demand for your B2B product or service. Through thoughtful execution of your strategy in marketing campaigns, you can also make your selling more productive by beginning the sales qualification process during the positioning process. But it works only if you are willing to face reality, and recognize that your product or service is best suited for a specific set within a target audience, not every buyer. That’s why there are usually many products in B2B software markets like CRM, Business Intelligence, Corporate Performance Management, ERP, etc.
I may be getting jaded in my old age, but it seems to me that more and more B2B software and technology companies are talking just like their competitors. They all sound the same. They use the same positioning strategy, they make similar claims and they use the same in-vogue words such as transformation, empower, innovate and the list goes on.