Brand positioning is becoming critical as more B2B marketers turn to content marketing across a range of channels to cultivate standoffish, self-service buyers. Your corporate positioning should be used as the backbone for your content strategy. This is what will hold it all together to ensure consistency and keep your storylines on track—no matter the channel in use.
The problem is that corporate positioning has traditionally been seen as a way to differentiate a company from its competition. In today's market environment it should be designed around the intersection of your company's strengths in relation to your customers' needs. Quite a different proposition, but one that can truly serve to help prospects become predisposed in your favor.
Every company has a distinct value they provide that their customers need and want. If not, they wouldn't be in business. Unfortunately, most companies mimick the leaders in their space, thinking that will help them "measure up" in their prospect's eyes. But, instead it makes the companies that do so appear less than unique.
This becomes obvious when you look at the "about" statements for companies in a specific niche and each of them leads off with "the leading provider of.." type of posturing. I've said this so many times it makes my head spin, but how many "leaders" can there actually be? Wouldn't you rather use those words to set your company apart? Seriously, you're starting a key piece of positioning messaging with the equivalent of "blah, blah, blah."
If you go look at your About paragraph, how many words are self-serving, self-focused blather that make you feel good about working there but don't do a thing to make you memorable to potential customers? Which words/phrases are not used by your competitors? How many words are you now left with? Probably not many.
But back to the topic at hand.
The art of sharing your company's unique value in ways that resonate with your buyers, compelling them to engage, trust, and—ultimately—buy from you.
Let's say that your company's unique value is to:
Simplify project planning and portfolio management with process automation designed to create the highest ROI from human resources and equipment assets.
[Yes, you should be able to sum up the overall value your company provides in one sentence. Get above the feeds and speeds minutia. If you do this well, all the other stuff will roll up to this statement.]
In this example, you're ideal prospects are:
Helen in Human Resources who's objective is to maximize the productivity of a 500 person staff of varying skill levels across a 3-shift schedule for an auto manufacturing plant.
Larry in Logistics who's objective is to ensure the specialized equipment is operated by the people most skilled in using it to reduce the risk of bottlenecks that slow or disrupt the line.
If you message to Helen, she may be most interested in content about how your solution will help her to streamline the effort it takes her to create a resilient workforce that's less susceptible to fatigue.
Larry won't care as much about that as he will about how your solution can match the best-suited workers to each machine for each shift, removing hours of effort from his planning process.
Even though these two content assets will have completely different orientations, by using the "unique value" as an underlay in their development, they will both align nicely with your positioning backbone and solidify your brand.
Multi-channel Advantages with Positioning
Obviously, as more channels entice new voices in your company to share about the work they do, the need to help them stay on track in aligning it to the value your company provides to customers is paramount. Providing them with a positioning story and guideline can be an invaluable resource for helping them to amplify the story.
Different channels require different modes of communication. With value kept front and center, your company's messaging can be consistent across any channel as long as the backbone - the unique value - is represented.
Think about Joe in your development bullpen who really wants to blog about the new features he's creating for customers. What about Frank, in sales, who wants to get prospects into conversation faster and is participating in groups on LinkedIn? How about your VP of Business Development who's giving a keynote speech at an industry conference?
Give people the freedom to share their expertise in the context of the company's brand without stiffling their participation. Diversity in presentation can be a good thing. Just as long as the underlying thread is always focused on the position you've established (are establishing) in the market place. After all, different prospects relate to different perspectives and styles. And it serves to showcase your company's expertise with richness and depth.
If it's not obvious by now, communicating with prospects is no longer just the realm of marketing. But, as marketers, we need to facilitate how the brand is represented and positioned in the marketplace. It's not about products, it's about the unique value they provide to your customers that they couldn't get from the vendor down the street.
We need to make sure that everyone in the company can articluate the value in relation to customer needs and wants. How many folks at your company can do so today?
When your story is based on relevant value and consistently shared across all the channels where your prospects will find it, you're creating a definite competitive advantage.You know why? Because you've focused your positioning on your customers, not your competitors.