Identifying the differentiator that sets your company or manufactured product apart from the competition is hard enough; communicating that differentiator so it doesn’t sound like every other marketing campaign on the planet is even harder. One of the biggest reasons so much marketing today sounds the same (“exceptional customer service,” “commitment to quality,” “expertise that adds value,” etc.) is that companies fall back on what’s easy and what they believe they’re supposed to do: talk about themselves.
Seems like it should make sense, but it doesn’t.
Turns out, this “learn more about us!” approach will put you in the fast lane to bland, overused, cookie-cutter marketing (and results). To have truly differentiated and effective marketing, you have to identify and clearly articulate what it is prospects and customers want and need. Don’t assume you know, and don’t simplify (“they’re looking for this product”) or you’ll likely miss the mark — and lose opportunities.
Talk About What’s Important: Your Customer
Talking about how long you’ve been in business, how big your facility is, your corporate mission and your company culture are all important, but not necessarily during the initial part of a buyer’s journey — they'll be more important right before he or she makes their final decision. What’s more pressing on the front end, as buyers begin researching solution options, is that you show you understand them and know the best way to solve their challenges.
To do this, you have to get to know your ideal buyers, digging deep to understand their challenges and pain points, how their buyer journey is structured and who’s involved in the decisions being made, what their motivations and fears are, what hurdles they encounter when making purchases, and about a dozen other questions that will draw a detailed picture of the humans you’re trying to engage.
Let’s look at an example of a company that brewed up a powerful marketing approach by looking more intentionally at its customers and prospects.
Dig Deep to Find What Customers Are Looking For
In a recent presentation at our Experience Inbound digital marketing conference, Jay Acunzo, founder of Unthinkable Media, challenged the notion of best practices and encouraged attendees to push the boundaries. His years of experience with Google, ESPN and HubSpot allowed him to witness many companies leveraging technology and innovation to catapult their businesses to new heights, but he also saw some not-so-stellar examples of those that failed to capture the attention of their audiences.
The difference? In his words, “When we pay more attention to the customer than to the industry, the customer pays more attention to us.” He shared an example of one company that went against convention and tailored their products and messaging to appeal to and capture a unique segment of consumers.
Though it now has a cult following, Death Wish Coffee, founded by Mike Brown, didn’t always experience the success it sees today. The best practice among coffee brewers is to use costly, high-quality Arabica beans for optimal flavor – it’s a sort of badge of honor to be able to say you use these beans. But this move did little to increase sales for Mike so he spent time observing his customers to understand what it was they really wanted. He paid close attention to their behaviors and eventually realized something important: they kept asking, “What’s the strongest cup of coffee you can make?”
It didn’t take long for Mike to understand that, though counterintuitive to what other successful coffee companies were doing, his customers didn’t want coffee that necessarily had the best flavor; they wanted a coffee that would give them a blow-your-socks-off jolt of caffeine. Mike found that he could use less-expensive Robusta beans and roast them to maximize their caffeine content to give his customers exactly what they were really looking for. In that, Death Wish Coffee was born.
The same principles can be applied to any industry. In his presentation, Jay asked, “Are we spending more time learning about marketing or about our customers?” What’s your “Death Wish” insight? In other words, what driving need can you identify about your prospects that could help you engage them more meaningfully than your competitors are?
Tell Your Story, Your Way
Many companies fail to connect with their audiences in a human way, ignoring the fact that engineers, CEOs, business owners, procurement specialists and other buyers are people with senses of humor, desires to be educated, who have unstated needs, and who appreciate content that will help them make a sound decision.
As you evaluate your marketing and put together your strategy for 2019 (it’s almost Q4, after all), commit to focusing first on the “who and why” — who you’re trying to engage and why they might want your product. The “what, where and when” are important, but secondary. Heed these words from Jay: “The brands that continually (or soon will) kill their competition are those who understand that strategic brand goes much deeper than pretty visuals and responsive code. Branding is layered, sculpted, tested and is just a mere reflection of what their customer needs from them versus what they need from their customer.”
Don’t be afraid to show some personality and build relationships with your audience. For many, that can be the differentiator that tips the scales. Use social platforms, nurturing emails, personalized content, account-based marketing and more to engage on a deeper, more human level.
If everyone follows the same marketing approach, everyone ends up with the same results: mediocrity. Instead, get to know your customers and find your unique voice. Then, use the tools and techniques available to you to capture your audience’s attention and market share. Developing your buyer personas is the foundation of the way we approach inbound marketing for B2B manufacturers and related services, and we’d love to help you strategically reach your ideal audience. Reach out to learn more.