Here’s a lead we received last week for B2B account based marketing services. It was from an IT services company with nearly 400 employees, providing a host of services, from web development to mobile app development to AI/ML.
I went through the website and pored through their marketing briefs deck. They have services for small and medium businesses, outsource work from large worldwide agencies, work with startups, and so on.
I couldn’t see a single reason why they would want to start on B2B account based marketing. The only reason I could think of was the new marketing manager wanted to impress the boss with a buzzword, and hopefully an agency like us would deliver.
Ding. DING. DINGG!
What they need is not ABM, I thought. They need to figure out their positioning. They want to be everything to everyone, and hey, they are cheaper but better. But that doesn’t help them to stand out in the minds of their clients and prospects, does it?
DING. DINGG. DINGDINGDINNGGG! Making any campaign work in the absence of positioning can be very very challenging.
The company is not alone. On their path of growth they would have picked up projects that came their way, or even went out of their way to land outlier projects, and suddenly the company was doing everything on all technologies for anyone on who would care to pay their hourly rates.
Just because we have the capability to do something, doesn’t mean we should do it. Right? Do it only if it makes sense to the business. I started a content solutions agency long ago, and just because we could write and design didn’t mean we had to take on anything that involved those skills. Our choice of sticking to marketing content over time was by design. We chose to say No to elearning content, technical writing, research writing, book editing and layouts and a host of other such requests that came our way.
Just because a market leader starts pursuing a new service offering, does it mean you will too?
Just because everyone is vying to be a partner of a large tech or social media platform, should you do it too?
Too often I have come across senior marketers who are unable to articulate what’s different about their offerings or business.
I have also met a CMO of a large co-location company, who considered their line of business to be absolutely boring! He didn’t believe they had a differentiator (and sure enough, they had copied a tag line from a much smaller player in their domain!).
Figuring out your positioning is hard work, and that’s the job of the founders and CMOs. It requires you to look deep within the core team and the company culture. It requires you to be deeply uncomfortable about what you see and perhaps that will drive you to articulate your aspirational positioning, and then get the entire company to work towards that. It requires you to deeply reflect on market trends and arrive at the bets you want to play, for the mid term, if not the long term.
Positioning is not wordsmithing. One has to emerge from hiding behind words like end-to-end, strategic, integrated, AI-driven, and so on. Like how one of the practice heads at a client company says, “Cut out the weasel words!”
Positioning is easier for small to mid sized companies, and challenging for large ones. But as new products and offerings get launched, there is space to figure out the right positioning for them. And company leaders must insist on it, and in fact invest in it.
ABM or inbound marketing or events or podcasts can come later, and they will do better, simply because the positioning has been figured out.
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