B2B brands, like most humans, have a unique set of DNA. But they are not nearly as effective at communicating their uniqueness as they think they do. This has a dampening effect on the sales process. Afterall, how can a sales team cut through the clutter if they’re delivering a mound of sameness in their presentation? The answer is, they can’t. And a cheaper price often becomes the determining factor.
Good news. There is a disciplined and quantitative process for examining your messaging in relation to your competitors. And while this investment in your success will take some time and effort, you just need intelligence, honesty, and imagination. The outcome of this exercise will be your own words and phrases that speak directly to your customers’ needs in a manner that is truly unique, and more importantly ‘memorable.’
1. Identify your competitors
When you make this list, don’t only choose those that offer the identical product or service to you. Include competitive alternatives in the market. You may also want to examine businesses that sell into the market(s) you sell into as well.
2. Make a list of the pressing questions
First think about the truly critical conversations your industry is having. Then, add some general questions to the list that are most often found on a website such as, why you exist, who are you, what you do, what is your mission, what special systems or processes you offer, etc. You should come up with 7-12 categories/questions.
Next, create a spreadsheet and fill in the left-hand column cells with your list of critical questions. Across the top, put all your competitors names in cells. Don’t forget to include your company in this exercise.
3. Gather research
Examine your competitors’ websites and marketing materials against your own, to find copy blocks that answer the pressing questions in your market. Don’t edit the answers, just copy and paste them down word-for-word. This will take some time. When you’re done, you will have documented how you and your competitors speak to the list of questions, and therefore, to the market. You may find your brand, or your competitors don’t address some critical issues – at all. Just leave those cells blank.
4. Sift through your data
Honestly and carefully sift through the materials and identify where there is parity and differences among the answers. Most often when we do this for clients, they discover that what they thought was different (a unique selling proposition or position) turns out to be mostly similar to what the competition is saying. Keep in mind that at this point the findings are neither positive nor negative; they are simply data. However, these answers become the foundation for building a unique and targeted messaging platform.
We find the following specifics are common to most: “We prioritize sustainability,” “We’re agile and easy to work with,” “We’re innovative,” “We put the customer first,” “We provide customizable solutions,” “Our team has decades of industry experience”.
None of that is necessarily bad, but these details only allow you a place at the table. Clearly, they are not what makes you stand out.
5. Develop your story
After you have highlighted what you have in common and what makes each company different, you can begin the process of developing your unique voice. Start with an overall compelling narrative or brand story. Let that story inspire you, then slowly add specifics until each critical question has your brand’s DNA revealed in each unique response; one that is true to who you are while setting you apart from your competitors. Now you’re on your way to making your brand memorable.
Every time we go through this exercise with clients, new and remarkable ideas come forth. Give it a try, and I hope you find your brand’s own unique voice in the market.
If you want to learn more about the process, send me an email or LinkedIn message; I’m happy to explain it further.