I came across this quote from David Ogilvy in a Copyblogger article 13 Timeless Lessons from the Father of Advertising:
“There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines…The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.”
While Ogilvy is talking about B2C business, what he says applies to B2B. There isn’t any significant difference between accounting services, financial accounting software, customer relationship management software, IT services, or in my own corner, marketing services.
What Marketing Does
At its most basic, marketing is calling attention to ourselves: our products, services, methodologies, and deliverables. Good marketing gets attention. Great marketing separates us from the pack and makes us a desired goal of our ideal prospect. Great marketing causes a prospect to decide, “I want to do business with [your name here].” Great marketing differentiates us in a way to make us more attractive than our competitors.
So what differentiates one from another? I think there are four main ways to differentiate:
B2B Marketing Spend
It was true in the past and it’s true today: if you have a lot of money to spend, you can appear everywhere and reach a wider audience. Money can buy the biggest exhibit at the conference or trade show. A big budget can buy signs at the airport. Lots of money can buy TV ads that run on Sunday during the football game. Not to mention the impact direct mail (think 3D, high value) can have with hefty cash behind it.
B2B Marketing Frequency
Every marketer knows the disappointment that comes when marketing budgets are slashed and you know that the cancelled 3rd and 4th campaigns will not be building on the momentum gained from your first two campaigns. To gain mindshare and favorability with your target audience: frequency of communication matters. To be sure, a strong message must be at the core, but even with a gripping compelling message (if you’re not able to send it out on a regular cadence) is going to have little chance of gaining a foothold with your target market.
Frequency does not mean spamming. I was managing a successful monthly direct mail campaign. The owners of the company, in an effort to save some money, asked me to execute every six weeks rather than every four weeks. That meant three less mailings a year. In addition to missing the leads generated from the three cancelled mailings, the remaining nine mailings pulled less response than the average response from mailings sent on a monthly mailing.
The idea is to find a cadence that works for your goals and your audience. And stick with it! It is better to pare down your list and ensure consistent communication than target larger numbers infrequently or sporadically. You’ll see better results mailing 100 people ten times, than mailing to 1000 people once.
Memorable B2B Marketing
The challenge is that most businesses don’t have excess marketing dollars to spend, nor do they want to spend marketing dollars on non-prospects – they want a more targeted approach.
A more targeted approach, for example focusing on a niche or vertical industry, means you can speak more specifically the their pain points and more specifically to the benefits they’ll enjoy. A more targeted approach means you can use the precise language used by your audience: the terminology you would use speaking to a nonprofit organization is very different than the terminology you would use speaking to a construction company.
A more targeted approach usually means a smaller list of prospects (remember: better results with touching 100 contacts ten times than 1000 contacts once). A smaller list means that you may have more budget dollars per contact and can afford to add in a lumpy or 3D mailing to your marketing calendar.
Personal B2B Marketing
A small list means you can get personal in your messaging. Use the vast amount of intelligence you can glean from LinkedIn, Google Alerts, and other tools to find out more about your prospect. In addition to your planned marketing messages, send a personalized message when it’s appropriate. Send congratulations when you see a press release announcing positive financial results or the opening of a new location, for example. There are other ideas for personalized messages in my presentation ‘100 Names, Ways, and Days to Grow Your Business’.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of ways to stand out from the crowd. There may be other tactics that you might employ. But the important things is that you begin to think about how to distinguish yourself from your competition and put a plan in place to make an impression on your prospects.
What ways have you used to make your business stand out? Please share them in the comments section.