I hear from B2B marketers and salespeople all the time about their competition. Propose a new messaging theme and the first thing they say is, "What will BIG competitor do?" or "How do we explain that against what BIG says they provide?" If your first response to the development of messaging and content is to think about the competition, you're giving them the power to own the market.
Yes, you heard me. Being reactionary and defensive with your messaging, content and conversations means you're not being true to your company. You're letting your competition define you.
What this behavior really says is that: You're a follower. You're an also ran. You're second choice.
Every market has a BIG vendor, a perceived leader - [despite the claims of most companies that they are the leading provider of... - but that's a different blog post] but that doesn't mean they get to dictate how you go to market, your passion for what you do or your success.
Figure out where they shine and where they don't. No company shines everywhere - trust me. Let them have their shiny parts and go play where the sun doesn't shine for them - but is brilliantly blazing hot for you.
Consider the following opportunities:
- Niche plays. Where can you focus that BIG is not?
- Tone and Style. Is BIG stuffy and academic? What parts of your brand are distinct from their tone and style? Play them up. Different people are drawn by different styles and tones. If BIG is stuffy and academic, be conversational. Be the company people want to speak with.
- Evaluate your customers. Where do you win the most? Build that story. In other words, play to your strengths. Don't try to play to BIG's.
- Who do they target? Does BIG focus on a specific buyer type? Can you create content and messaging that gets you in through another door? How can you build relationships that have enough influence to get you to the table? In a complex sale, there are many people involved. Influencers are growing in importance. Don't overlook them.
- What sandboxes can you own? Is BIG great at producing videos but their blog is a bit sparse? Are they producing huge white papers, but not short-form articles that take deeper dives into tight topics that buyers care about? Are they doing webinars that are really product demos, not educational forums?
All of us have competition. We can either bow to them or we can go out and change the game by engaging our markets differently.
This does not mean go out and take a wild-ass flyer. This means to study your markets from a variety of angles and develop content and conversations they're interested in, but not necessarily getting elsewhere.
As soon as you stop focusing on BIG, you'll see a path open up to build the market reputation that pulls buyers to you, checkbooks in tow.