June 15, 2020

How B2B Companies Can Stand Out As Different

Everyone wants to be different. But it ain’t easy.

It’s easy to be like and act everyone else. It’s easy to blend into the crowd or run with the herd, thereby avoiding the spotlight for being different.

But “sameness” for B2B brands is dangerous.


It is difficult to identify what makes you unique and why you’re a better option than the competition.

But here’s the problem and challenge: differentiation is not easy.

It’s hard to identify and establish a competitive edge. It’s hard to rally around even little things that make you unique.

The other sad reality is that many B2B brands don’t even try to be different.

They believe their product, prices, and features will allow them to stand out. It’s the “build a better mousetrap” approach to business.

But, over time, that isn’t going to work.

At some point, a better and sexier product will emerge that has better marketing and positioning. Then, you’re DOA.

Do you want to be different? Here’s what I would do:

* Take a deep, deep dive into your product. What value does it deliver? Who really needs it? Get feedback from a variety of people within the organization: marketing, sales, customer success, customer service, administration, and delivery.

It’s important to remember that your employees interact with customers in different ways and, as a result, have different perspectives.

* Talk to a variety of customers; remember not every customer is the same. Talk to long-time customers, new customers, as well as customers leveraging different features to achieve different objectives or tasks.

What are your customers looking to do? Why did they select your product? What were the options considered?

* Scrutinize the competition. What makes them different or better? Try to discover why their customers love them. Now, here’s the hard part: it is important to have an unbiased attitude, particularly if a competitor’s products are better or they excel from a sales or marketing perspective. The only way to stand out is by recognizing and appreciating the positioning and products of other companies.

* Then, invest the time to truly look at what you do and why it matters to your customer. Rally around the things that customers love about your brand and product to see if how you can outflank the competition. 

I recently completed a successful positioning project with a startup with two key competitors. One was a large enterprise-focused company. The other was more a direct competitor, albeit slightly larger.
It took a while but my client’s positioning focused on its intuitive UX and how it eliminated the frustrations experienced by prospects when they used other tools. The differences that we identified were relatively small. But they were enough to allow my client to stand out.

This post was inspired by Peep Laja’s article on differentiation.

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting. Learn about how I help B2B companies drive customer engagement and leads through brand positioning, marketing plans, and tactical guidance. Book a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your challenges and needs.

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