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How to create a differentiating brand strategy in B2B marketing

Posted by Catriona Macleod - October 5, 2016

A recent study we conducted in conjunction with our research unit, Loudhouse, revealed that changes in the competitive B2B landscape were causing UK marketing directors to lose sleep, with over 50% stating that differentiation was a major challenge.

Not only that, differentiation itself poses a dispute – at a sentimental level it’s something you want to strive for, yet at a cultural level you don’t want to stand out, as the B2B industry in particular thrives on similarity and differentiation can often provoke objections from the board.

We like to think it’s a bit like a school disco; how do you get noticed whilst simultaneously trying to fit in? Think about it, if your customers are experiencing common pain points that you and your competitors are all trying to appeal to, you end up just adding to the noise and following the herd.

So, how do you create a strategy that strikes the right balance of engaging customers whilst appeasing internal stakeholders?

Firstly, it’s worth remembering that you don’t have to be a ‘stand-out’ organisation to understand what makes you different and how you capitalise on it. Differentiation is not for the few, it’s for the many. In the B2B space, your core differentiator could be one of three things;

1. Technological innovation – Do you have a disruptive core technology that could define your marketing campaigns?

2. Go-to-market strategy – What’s your first-mover advantage? Could you educate the market on something new?

3. Customer environment – Can you capitalise on your community as brand advocates?

Outside of these three differentiators, it’s about building a different story. Determine your brand story, and that of your customers and competitors, which will ultimately give you the edge. And remember, it must have authenticity running through each strand. Also consider what could be your “coffee stain” moments – what are your points of interest and are they going to stick?

In summary, just remember the 3 ‘Ds':

Discovery – Realise the story that will make a difference to your business, your customers and your competitors – don’t just add to the noise.

Define – Get everyone involved in creating a narrative that really gets people believing it – how you get this difference across comes down to thorough campaign planning.

Delivery – Embed the first two points into in everything you do – this is everything from your approach to marketing, to your content assets, to the story you tell and your customers’ experiences.

To hear more about how to differentiate your brand, view the webinar in full below, hosted by Billy-Hamilton Stent, MD of Loudhouse.

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How to create a differentiating brand strategy in B2B marketing