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how to be different
Come on, start doing things differently with us. Read on and find out how to conquer the competition...
Are you out in front or just another runner?
For those involved in selling services and products to businesses, differentiation becomes ever more vital.
will your company be
Then you’re in the right place. Dare to be Different gives you what you need to make your content marketing stand out from the crowd in the era of killer competition and attract more customers, provide a better customer experience, and increase your retention and loyalty rates. We’ll share insights into:
so you want to be different?
Why you need to use data to drive differentiation and why 44% of marketers say lack of insight or data is holding them back from their goals.
Tips and tricks you can use to get the buy in from the C-Suite to be different so you’re not one of the 41% of marketers that claim they’re not brave enough to differentiate.
How you can plan to be different so you’re not one of the 69% of marketers that don’t have a strategy in place to stand out from the crowd.
Why 40% of marketers think their content is “the same as the competition” and how they can overcome it.
dare to be different
To make headway in this flatlining economy, businesses need to reconsider how they are perceived in their markets.
Are they just one of a crowd offering good but indistinguishable products? Or do they have a distinctive offer, approach and image that burns their name into the minds of their consumers so they are remembered for years to come?
Announcing a near 5% fall in billings in the first half of 2017 on a constant currency measure, WPP pointed to low global growth, technological disruption, and shrinking ad budgets as global corporations cut costs. “In the last year or so, growth has become even more difficult to find,” says WPP.
In our hyper-competitive world, standing out from the crowd has never been more important. Financial results from the world’s biggest advertising network WPP, run by ad boss Sir Martin Sorrell, underscore the importance of differentiation in today’s challenging economy.
Dare to be different
how to survive
in the era of
“Being great isn’t enough. Being wildly different than what’s out there is often the biggest predictor of whether or not you’ll be able to grab significant market share,” writes self-proclaimed“brand builder” Danielle Sabrina for the Huffington Post.
Sabrina gives the example of the Toyota Prius which achieved huge sales even though many considered it ugly and hard to use with mediocre acceleration. But it stood out because of a unique quality—a hybrid engine combining electric and petrol drives. As a result, it sold in droves.
“When you’re different from everything else, your uniqueness obliterates all other narratives about your product,” she declared.
In the B2B field, differentiation can be harder to establish than in B2C marketing. B2B differentiation can be manifested through the sense of purpose the business promotes, its mission statement, the visual identity of its communications, and the customer experience it delivers.
Above all, there needs to be a behavioral change within the business—the mindset of everyone within it must change and appreciate why it’s special, and how that must be reflected in the way it operates.
For today’s brands, it is better to be different than to be better. Claiming superiority over your rivals is often a hard one to demonstrate. It’s important to establish a point of difference early on in the life of a business, but it’s equally important to be “always on”, and react in the moment so that differentiation lives, breathes, and adapts with you.
Being great is
no longer enough
thought their content was “about the same” as their competitors.
of respondents believe their “content is more varied and comprehensive than that of rivals in the industry.”
We surveyed 172 B2B marketers and found that they understand the vital role content plays in communicating uniqueness to clients. But it was notable how few thought they had achieved it:
Differentiation is about several things: Firstly, it’s about what you are saying. Secondly, it’s about who you’re saying it to.
Every significant B2B purchase is influenced by several people who make up the buying group. Each person has specific pains that need to be met by the vendor before the sale is agreed.
Content that helps them understand exactly how your product or service will meet their needs, even needs they may not be entirely aware of yet, is what you need to deliver. And your messages should be tailored across formats, channels, and devices.
Differentiate by audience. To sell in to your customer you need to understand the needs of everyone in the buying group, and that applies equally to marketing.
Who are you saying
You need to talk about the competitive edge you have over the competition, why your customers came to you in the first place and why they stay with you. And it depends how you say it. If you publish dreary copy, dull videos, or pointless infographics you won’t stand out.
What are you saying?
“You can't look at the competition and say you're going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you're going to do it differently.” Steve jobs
Improve customer retention and loyalty.
Provide an improved customer experience.
Attract more customers.
Differentiation is something that needs to be constantly tested and benchmarked so businesses can ensure they keep a distance from their rivals. Being different requires hard work, which can be easily undone by the copycat positioning of a rival.
B2B companies have a long way to go to achieve the differentiation necessary to blossom in a world of product parity. The respondents overwhelmingly believed that the main reasons for differentiating content by either channel or audience was to:
So you wanna be different, huh?
Come on then...Find out how
New Zealand accountancy software brand Xero has done something quite unusual for a B2B technology brand by focusing on ‘beauty’ with its strapline: “Everything you need to run your business beautifully.”
And on a
GE has wowed the recruitment world with its “The Message” series of science fiction podcasts about decoding messages from space. The company’s transformation in recent years has given it a level of stand-out in the minds of potential recruits and customers rarely achieved by B2B brands.
Consultancy Ernst & Young’s rebrand as EY was credited with giving a distinctive proposition to one of the “big four” accounting firms which had previously been thought indistinguishable.
how to be
They need to focus
on three areas:
So how can other B2B providers uncover their uniqueness and turn that into a strategy
that guides and shapes their content?
“identify something that you are already doing right and then do it on purpose.”
Marketing consultant and NYT best-selling author, Sally Hogshead, says being better only really succeeds as a brand positioning when companies have huge budgets and can outspend their rivals. She argues that brands ought to
But other brands have to self-analyse to find out what makes them different. In the case of South West Airlines, for instance, their unique qualities are “friendly practicality.” This shines through in all their content.
The way to bring a brand’s uniqueness to life in content is through using the strategies of “fascination.” Strong, differentiated content gives brands the tools to become more fascinating.
Once a business has found its essence, creating powerful content will flow from this. For a truly unique proposition such as Tesla electric cars for example, it is relatively easy to establish difference as the product stands out in its market.
Get your differentiation takeaways and use our tool to find out how different you really are
why you're different
what you say to be different
how you say it differently
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Do you have differentiated content and a stand-out customer experience? Dive into our CX Audit and find out.
Give your difference a context and show why it is relevant to your clients. Hone your thought leadership and make sure you embed this unique world view in your content across all channels.
The more you understand about your prospects, the more you can offer them content that appeals to their particular challenges.
Look into the operations of your company to find the factors that are truly different from your rivals. Do you source products or hire talent in an original way?
Find an authentic voice that your company can own. This may be through commentary on breaking news, analysis in a blog or a differentiated video strategy. Find something that people will remember you for.
Look at the brand leaders in your sector and understand their behavior. If they offer a reassuring and comforting tone, be quirky and original. Consider the examples of MailChimp and Xero.
Differentiation takes you
directly to your customers
Being different is a mission which requires constant work and attention. But difference can be measured, difference will be remembered, and difference could be the key to your success in an oversupplied market.
Differentiation helps to rejuvenate the market. It has the power to drive a company’s success far beyond simply outdoing the competition on quality or service.
Being different can deliver huge benefits to B2B companies. It provides a significant competitive advantage in an area where the offers are often hard to distinguish. Differentiation takes you directly to your customers.
Commit to CX
Solutions not features
You not me
Be committed to ensuring everything you do in marketing ticks three boxes. First, be brave. Second, focus on the customer experience of your product. And third, make sure you are constantly benchmarking bravery, customer experience and your overall differentiation strategy.
Promote the value of your solutions to your clients’ particular problems. Alternatively, offer them different ways of working to circumvent those problems.
Make sure the tone of your communications focuses on the interests of the audience and prospective customers rather than your own concerns. Think about the problem from the point of view of the audience rather than focusing on your own challenges.
This will create a sense of control as it offers prospects confidence that your company has well-thought-out answers to their challenges. Using data and research to refine your understanding of different prospects and customers can help build up a detailed picture of their needs so you can address them on a more personal level and respond to their individual requirements.
At its most successful, a well-executed differentiation strategy will enthrall prospective customers and give them faith in the abilities of the B2B provider.
Corporate purpose becomes a vital guide to creating content. This sense of purpose and vision should grow out of your ideas on differentiation. Purpose helps your content present an authentic and original interpretation of the market and the needs of prospects.
Businesses can achieve a deep and lasting sense of differentiation through their editorial strategy and the content they produce.
Live and breathe