How midmarket accounting/ERP companies are positioned

As you can see by viewing the perceptual map below, there’s a lot of commonality in the way midmarket accounting/ERP companies are positioned. Three positioning themes stand out based on a recent evaluation of their websites:

  1. Growth – either facilitating it or accommodating growth
  2. We’re No. 1, the No. 1 choice, etc.
  3. Transformation

Growth – by far – is the most popular position; either the accounting/ERP company accelerates growth or accommodates it or both. Of 13 companies evaluated almost half (six) claim some form of growth but only Epicor is effectively claiming the growth position through longevity and extensive use of it on its website.

Most change their position too often

Unlike most accounting/ERP companies who change their position almost every year which works against claiming a position, Epicor has stuck with its “drive growth” position for more than three years. Here are examples of how Epicor is effectively executing its growth position on its website:

While Epicor uses growth as its theme for most marketing communications such as its website, competitors are one and done. They mention growth once or twice on their home page, but don’t repeat it. It’s not the theme for their website.

Use your position often to claim it

It should be noted that repetition is the key to claiming a position. The more you repeat your position, the more likely you are to claim it. Lack of repetition is a problem among all companies evaluated, and even Epicor isn’t repeating its position as often as in the recent past.

You also need to substantiate any claim your make or our brain becomes skeptical. This is likely to be happening to the companies who are attempting to claim “transformation.” All three – Workday, Acumatica and SAP HANA – fail to substantiate their “transformational” positions. They make the claim on their website, but they don’t prove it. Of course, the reason they aren’t proving it is because it’s not true; it’s not happening.

To suggest that an accounting/ERP system is transformational is delusional at best. Bull shit at its worst! Accounting/ERP systems improve efficiency, provide more immediate access to useful management information, and make it easier to decide what to do. But transformational? Only if debits become credits and credits become debits.

Buyers care about themselves not the wonders of your company or product

Self-centered positions like “We’re No. 1” aren’t effective either. That’s because most buyers care about themselves and solving their problems. In fact, the skepticism in us might react to a company’s self-centered position like this: “I don’t care that you are No. 1. How do you solve my pressing business problem?”

Any position that fails to express a benefit that solves the target audience’s most pressing problem or one of the most pressing problems, is sure to fail to entice buyers. And it may turn them off.

Lack of differentiation also discourages buyers. Without clear-cut choice, the decision-making portion of the brain enters into a state of confusion leading to a delayed decision or no decision at all. Powerful, unique claims attract prospects because they highlight the difference, gap, or disruption the reptilian brain is seeking to justify a quick decision.

Just remember that without clear-cut choice, our brain enters into a state of confusion. The absence of contrast – especially when a prospect has difficulty understanding the differences between your product and others – will bring the prospect’s decision-making ability to a halt.

Long sales cycles have always been a fact of life in the accounting/ERP market. My best guess is that sales cycles are even longer today due to a crowded market and lack of differentiation.

The following perceptual map makes it easy to see how companies in the accounting/ERP market are positioned based on a recent assessment of their websites. There are links to company websites so you can check my work: