The drive to write a blog series about B2B marketing came from a realisation that there remains little clear information and guidance on effective B2B marketing in the UK. There are few books on the subject (believe me I’ve checked Amazon), one magazine (B2B Marketing) and a few discussion groups in places like Linkedin. There are a small handful of agencies and specialists attempting to drive best practice.
I even approached the CIM about creating a B2B interest group (there isn’t one) and they are yet to get back to me.
I believe that, as a B2B marketer, you are looking for strategies and approaches to give your business the best chance of break through, the best chance to stand out from other commodities. So how can you standout in a B2B market?
Beating the commodity trap demands an appreciation of who are presenting to (target audience), understanding what they want (their needs), their concerns and trigger points (objections) and ultimately presenting yourself in the best most favourable light to secure the supply contract.
To provide the most favourable offer means being able to deliver what is expected and then some. It is often the ‘and then some’ that secures a contract win. But such an indefinable element means you have to think long and hard about your value proposition. In light of what you know about your customer, consider the following value propositions. Bear in mind the quality, speed, price conundrum; you can only really offer two of these.
1. Be the fastest – ProntaPrint provides on the spot print and collation services to businesses. It is priced slightly higher than other print providers because you can have collateral printed immediately at hundreds of high street locations.
2. Offer the most choice – Wolseley supplies the building and plumbing trades with product lines running into the tens of thousands through their nationwide network of Build Centres, Plumb Centres etc.
3. Provide the most customisation – Dell allows you to customise your computer purchase online, add a range of extras and add discounted peripherals and accessories. You receive a bespoke computer, though it does tend to take a while to arrive.
4. Be the expert – KPMG help thousands of businesses audit their accounts and ensure their financial affairs are in order and comply with financial and legal and requirements. As a professional service they are arguably unrivalled.
5. Be the largest – Microsoft support their global domination of the PC software market with accredited partner schemes meaning there are millions of Microsoft certified experts supporting businesses with their IT needs.
6. Provide the best quality – quality in the sense of design, performance, finish and process (ISO9001). This might be related to total product (Bentley, Apple) or individual components.
7. Provide the best service – service from a customer experience perspective. Is your website easy to browse and automated to the extent of Amazon. Are your staff fully conversant with brand values and company mission? How is your service delivered – instore, online or through channel partners and distribution?
8. Be the most informative – Google Adwords, whether you love them or hate them, have done a great job in advancing take up of the advertising scheme with Google University sessions and seminars at hundreds of events every year. They show the product in use, allow people to trial, ask questions and get a feel for it, resulting in much higher take up than might have been the case.
Business experts always say focus on what you are best at. Above all, avoid being the cheapest. Price differentiation positions you as a commodity proposition. Consequently, you provide little value and can be easily replaced.
What value do you add?