Most Service Companies do quite well without adopting a classic “Product Marketing” approach to their strategic marketing plan. While their marketing strategy, campaigns and tactics typically include most of the 4 P’s, a slavish approach to those principles is not required. Rather, a “Solutions Marketing” approach is a wiser approach, both with established services as well as newly introduced services.
And central to any Solutions Marketing methodology is a detailed analysis (segment by segment) of the highest priority needs that the service company can meet with their solution(s). The various solutions that “go-to-market” are constituted by a properly positioned set of primary services (the core of the solution) and ancillary services (content, knowledge transfer, training, etc. that wrap around the core) that meet those needs AND provide industry thought leadership differentiation.
Why is Thought Leadership a necessary condition of solutions marketing strategy? Two words – Brand differentiation. Unless your go-to-market solutions and marketing campaigns are imbued with your brand (why our solutions provide a competitive advantage to the client compared to competitors), you need to rebuild credibility with each any every marketing effort. Thought leadership serves as glue which ties together all of your services and solutions and presents one face to the marketplace.
A good number of B2B product and service providers do not have the marketing budgets to establish and reinforce their brand like B2C companies. Instead, much of their brand is created each time the firm interacts with the client. And in most cases, the client or prospect is the one who controls when and how they interact with the client. Many companies in the B2B market place have extremely limited opportunities to proactively reach out to their clients (account manager check-in, new product or service awareness call, client newsletter, etc.) and in most cases the interaction is reactive (service issues, product or service question, etc.).
As a result, most B2B companies have an extremely passive demand generation and brand strategy and are not looked upon as critical partners of driving revenue by sales, operations and senior management. So what can a B2B marketer do?
Well for one, B2B companies can develop thought leadership content and disseminate it through email, e-newsletters and social media vehicles. But of course, such methods are tactical. What is really needed is a strategy. And of course that depends on your market situation, goals, and commitment to thought leadership that not only “leads” but also connects with the real needs of your customers and prospects.
Competitive differentiation in the B2B marketplace is extremely difficult. Whether your market is computer software, environmental services, financial services, business services, consulting, technology, modeling, information services or professional services, it’s very tough for customers to understand why one solution is better than another providers solution. That’s where thought leadership comes in.
And customers needs driven thought leadership initiative is a key pillar in a strategy to get your firm to stand out in the crowd. The mission of this blog is to explore ways in which any B2B firm can cost efficiently execute on this strategy.