The playing field is rarely level in the B2B marketing world, usually because of limited resources. But just because you don’t have the budget doesn’t mean you can’t compete. Here are three budget-friendly ways you can prevent being out-marketed by the competition.
1. Know Your Competition
This may seem painfully obvious, but it’s surprising how many marketers can rattle off the names of their competitors…and that’s about it. They haven’t done any meaningful research into messaging, solutions, differentiators, metrics, online tactics and strategies.
The real benefit of doing this is to learn as much about how similar you are as how you are different. Here’s an example:
In nearly every sales conversation, I will be asked “Who creates your content?”
I proudly answer: “All of our content is custom created in-house.”
And this is often a real differentiator as many inbound marketing agencies use freelancers. But what about agencies that provide in-house content? How is our content different? Is it different? How would we even know?
Each time I spoke to a prospect who was using an agency for content, I would ask a few questions:
Do they create content in-house?
Can you tell me about their content process?
What is their content strategy
What do you like or dislike about the content?
How does it perform?
(These questions could be asked in any situation whether a business is creating content internally, using a freelancer or an agency. It doesn’t matter.)
I found that often times there were pieces missing in their process—some key elements that meant the difference between a page 1 ranking and content oblivion. And creating content that performs is like brewing an IPA: there are certain core ingredients you need to make it become the thing it’s supposed to be.
At SPROUT Content, content is our thing, but I didn’t feel we had the story defined well enough. Yes, we create all of our content in-house using a proven process that gets clients results. This, however, wasn’t communicated well enough on our site, nor was it really part of our story so we decided to change that.
We defined our content process so that we could share that with prospects, and we gave it a name that reflects the core of what it does and how it benefits our clients: Performance Content.
Now we have a story to tell about what makes us different. We can show specific examples of how our process (vs. another process) created positive results. And we can use this in our marketing whether it’s messaging on our site, blog posts, or lead generating downloads.
2. You Talk the Talk. Do You Walk the Walk?
There’s a scene in Full Metal Jacket between “Joker,” a combat correspondent and “Animal Mother,” a burly machine gunner who has spent too many months in combat.
When they first meet, a tense exchange follows. After a few sarcastic remarks from “Joker,” “Animal Mother,” who has finally had enough from the green photographer, questions “Joker’s” courage: “You talk the talk. Do you walk the walk?”
It’s a call out. It’s where the rubber meets the road. Can you put your money where your money is? How do you react when under fire?
Businesses “talk” a lot, but how often do they “walk the walk?” What does it even mean to walk the walk? Start by examining your stated capabilities and differentiators.
If you’re a software company that promises to do XYZ, be sure you not only have examples of this performance (i.e. case studies), but have a killer, compelling demo that has plenty of “ah ha!” moments. Be sure to demonstrate these promises in some way in the demo.
If you’re an SEO company in Omaha, make sure you come up on page 1 of search for Omaha SEO companies or some similar phrase. It’s going to be hard to justify that you’re worth a client’s money if you’re sitting on page 3.
3. Align Your Marketing with Sales
One of the great disconnects in many organizations is that between sales and marketing. Companies grow fast and chasms develop as departments get bigger and more siloed. Throw in a remote working environment and it’s no wonder one doesn’t know what the other is doing.
But if there’s one area a business can out-market a competitor, it’s the alignment marketing with sales. Here are a few ideas for giving you an edge on your marketing competition:
Meet at least once a month with the sales team to collaborate on content topics: blogs, webinars, e-books, videos and even messaging. Sales should be able to tell you what’s resonating (and not) with prospects. You might even get some volunteer content creators. If nothing else, you will get content topics that will attract the right prospects.
Sit on a sales call or go out with a sales rep for a prospect meeting. You’ll find out how your company and its solutions are being perceived. You’ll learn about specific challenges (are these all addressed in your content?). And you’ll hear objections that may be useful in how you position your solution.
Sales will always say they want more and better leads—ask them to show you examples of leads that aren’t qualified and why. Dissect them one by one. Compare them to your buyer personas if you have them. Refine your personas if you need to. Then use this research to create smarter, more targeted content.
There’s never been a better time for B2B companies, of all sizes and industries, to become stronger marketers. You just need to have the right foundations in place, really know your competition, and have aligned goals across your organization. Don’t let your company stay stuck in the past, relying on outdated tactics that no longer perform. Find out how you can elevate your business, and surpass your competitors.