Strategy #8: All-in-one or one-stop-shop
This strategy can be applied when a specific segment of your market needs various, often fragmented, and poorly integrated tools or services to manage (an aspect of) their business.
The first two examples below illustrate the importance of focusing on a specific segment of the market to succeed at this strategy.
3 B2B tech examples with insider tips.
As small businesses use more and more of digital tools, they struggle with disconnected systems, information, logins – while the monthly subscription bills keep piling up.
The Zoho Corporation recognized this problem in 2017, when they launched Zoho One, with 40+ integrated apps on one account, with all-in unbeatable pricing.
Now, it took Zoho a bit more than 20 years of building different products to be in a position to launch such a unique offering.
But this is not to say that the all-in-one strategy is not accessible to companies without such a legacy.
As part of a positioning exercise, one of our clients, IDRONECT, decided to focus on their most profitable segment of drone-based service companies. After completing a set of interviews, they realized that with a small modification of their product, IDRONECT could replace more than 10 different apps their clients use to manage their business.
Within 2 months it took them to complete the exercise and release the product update, they grew the deal-close rate, shortened the sales cycle and 5X the deal size, and closed a new investment round.
One more example of an all-in-one positioning strategy taken from the start is Zaplify, which is an all-in-one sales outreach tool. In an interview with their founder and CEO Oscar Collins, I learned that while all-in-one positioning can be a powerful differentiation strategy — it can be challenging to communicate.
Being used to individual tools and their categories, prospects may try to box you in into one of those categories: “so, are you now a prospecting tool, or an outreach tool?”.
Tune in to listen to the full interview below:
Strategy #9: Head to head: redefine an emerging category
Operating in an emerging category (a category that your prospects may not be fully aware of) is both a blessing and a curse: it requires you to invest in awareness creation and demand generation — but it’s also an opportunity to influence your prospect’s purchase criteria.
And the best way to do it is using what Andy Raskin calls “name the new game”. Instead of merely attacking the problem (as most B2B brands do) — Raskin says — you attack the status quo, the “old game”. You are effectively naming the reason your competitors are becoming obsolete AND introducing a sense of urgency. “
To survive in the newly emerging world”, you say, “what you’re doing today (and what the competitors offer) is not enough. The winning company plays a new game, here is what that is. And our solution is designed ground-up to help you win the new game.”
B2B tech examples
When Hubspot set out to win in the competitive market of marketing and software tools back in 2006, they did something different from most of the other tech companies.
They’ve invested most of their marketing efforts in promoting their methodology (Inbound Marketing) instead of promoting their product directly.
Hubspot did not create the marketing automation category. They just found a new way of talking about it, that helped them create much wider awareness of the need for marketing automation (and their product).
Drift did something similar. Drift wasn’t the first chatbot on the market, but they did a far better job than anyone else in creating a compelling story around chatbots. Instead of talking about chatbots, they attacked a solution marketers were aware of: lead generation forms. Leadgen forms were their “old game”.
In a world of texting and Slack, they said, your customers are not willing to submit long forms and wait for a rep to contact them a day later — they want instant response.
They called their “new game” Conversational Marketing.
Strategy #10. Create a new category
This is the hardest and the most expensive choice you can make, but the rewards can be huge.
This strategy is usually made possible by a perfect storm of an enabling new technology emerging together with a shift in consumer preferences and a supporting ecosystem.
The work in creating a new category requires a lot of teaching because unlike with other positioning strategies, you cannot rely on what people already know about the category.
You need time, patience, and often, deep pockets.
2 B2B tech examples with insider tips
Eloqua grew from around $12 million in revenue in 2006 when they created the “marketing automation” category, to $96 million in 2012 when they went public and were shortly after acquired by Oracle for $870 million.
The second example is Esoptra, disrupting the world of high-value goods & services by creating a category they call “Product-Led Communication” (adding a branded digital experience to your physical product to turn it into your best customer communication channel).
In an interview for our podcast, the CEO shared:
- How do you come up with a new category?
- The problem with a new category is that your prospects are not aware of it. How to educate your market about the new category and create demand for your product?
- Educating your customers takes time. How do you shorten your sales cycle?
- How do you find early adopters?
Strategy #11. The power-up add-on
With this strategy, you position your product as an add-on to other products — or you use the add-on strategy as a part of your go-to-market mix.
Clearbit offers lead enrichment as a power-up to your CRM or marketing automation tools. Popular platforms such as WordPress, Microsoft Office, or JIRA all have marketplaces full of add-on applications. However, many of the add-on categories have become market categories in their own right (think popup add-ons for websites like sumo.com) and require you to position your solution with respect to the other add-ons in the category.
Integration companies (service companies specialized in specific platform implementations and customizations) can create add-ons as a part of their go-to-market mix (a way to come in contact with qualified prospects when they download their add-on).
Sometimes, however, the add-on could be a viable positioning strategy.
B2B Tech Example
When image personalization became popular through providers such as lemlist using it as differentiation features, some companies spotted an opportunity to offer similar personalization as an add-on to other marketing tools and channels.
One such example is Hyperise, enabling you to use personalized images in email, website, video, ads, chatbots, direct mail and social outreach and offer integrations with numerous marketing tools. Tune in to hear the interview with their founder and CEO Ian Naylor:
Step 5. Develop a Unique Value Proposition: be different in a way that matters
As explained above, the value proposition is a key marketing message that communicates why you are different and worth buying. Essentially, it communicates why your positioning matters to your ideal customers.
Note the two elements: differentiation, and relevance to your ideal clients.
Quadrant 2 on the diagram above is where most brands and products live. They meet their customers’ needs but are not differentiated. Quadrant 4 contains brands that are different for sake of being different. The difference they make is not relevant to the customers.
The goal of positioning is to move to quadrant 3.
And the role of the value proposition is to capture this in one compelling statement.
Step 5.1: List your unique attributes
You’re looking for what your company and your product do best — compared to your competitive alternatives.
The best place to start is running customer interviews. During Ideal Customer Interviews, ask: what specific feature of our product did you like the best and why? And also: when evaluating a solution like ours, what do you find important? And of course: why did you choose us?
Look through the interview results and list all attributes, capabilities, and features that you have that the identified alternatives don’t.
Remember: you are looking for those that create value for your customers AND are a source of differentiation.
For example, ‘easy to use’ may not be the best unique attribute — unless it creates a “provable” value. E.g. do your competitors’ products require training and your product doesn’t? Can you quantify how long it takes to become proficient with your product versus alternative products?
Note that unique attributes are not only the features of your product.
You may have a unique approach to serving your customers, a different business model, a better guarantee, unique methodology, faster payback (time to ROI) than other solutions…
Ask yourself: what are our unique “TASKS”: talents, attitudes, skills, knowledge, and style? What do you do better than anyone in the industry? Do you have a different set of beliefs (in a way that benefits your client), or have you figured out a more effective mindset? Do you have a different style and approach your clients differently than your competitors?
Ask yourself deeper questions too.
Like, why do we exist, besides making money? What inspires us to come to work each day? What would our business be like if we were leading a movement instead of running a business? If our people were volunteers instead of employees, what would they be volunteering for?
These will come in handy as you work on your positioning story and could help connect to your clients more deeply.
Step 5.2: Map your unique attributes to value
In the previous step, we’ve identified what makes us unique. We’ve essentially moved rightwards on the graph above.
Now we want to go upwards, by mapping our unique attributes to the value we create for our ideal clients.
- The unique attribute is something your company or your product does or has (that your competitive alternatives don’t)
- The benefit is what the attribute enables for your clients
- The value is how it maps to an important goal your client is trying to achieve
While such a list can be long, you want to end up with a few ‘value themes’ that matter most to your clients by combining or removing options.
Step 5.3: Craft several value proposition statements
Now take the selected value themes and turn them into value proposition statements.
A unique value proposition is a succinct statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.
While there are many excellent guides and suggested value proposition ‘formulas’, there is nothing magic in the way that you put your statement together.
You’re simply trying to hit the elements of an effective value proposition:
- Relevance — who is it for and what problem is solves
- Value — what goal or result does it help clients achieve
- Differentiation — how is it different in a way that’s meaningful to clients, and that’s provable
- What is it — from the value proposition, it should be clear what your product is or does, without any room for misinterpretation
Feel free to use the extended “headline + subhead” format to precisely nail your value proposition.
Here are a few examples.
Step 5.4: Validate your value proposition
Once you’ve crafted a few versions of your value proposition statements, you can validate them with your (ideal) clients.
Create a validation survey with multiple options for your value proposition like this and ask your best clients to rate the different statements.
Step 6. Update your marketing message with a new positioning
The last step is updating the marketing message with a new positioning to influence the perception of your customers.
At a bare minimum, you should update the key marketing and sales materials:
- Your homepage, about us page, and product/services pages
- Your company’s social media profiles, and LinkedIn profiles of your founders, sales and marketing people
- Your sales presentation and proposals
But changing the way the company thinks about itself, brings about a new sense of purpose and creates a new momentum and energy.
You’ll likely get inspiration for your product roadmap, the way you service your clients, and sometimes also on the business model.
We operate in a world of exponentially growing competition, a flood of desperate marketing attempts causing content blindness, and the slow death of cold outreach.
There is little room left for undifferentiated, me-too businesses.
In this guide, you learned a proven step-by-step framework to update your positioning so you stand out and become a natural choice for your best clients.
Here are some more steps for you if you want to learn more, have any questions, or need any help: