logo

The lab
:
Menu

Brand Positioning: How To Develop A Unique & Memorable B2B Brand

Subscribe For The Best Insights on B2B Marketing
Free Content

Do you feel the more you polish your marketing messaging, the more you sound like your competitors?

If you’re a B2B brand, realize this—your customers are overwhelmed.

In the last 60 seconds on the internet, there were over:

  • 156 million emails.
  • 16 million texts.
  • 3.5 million searches on Google.
  • 1.8 million Snaps created.
  • 452,000 Tweets.
  • 95,890 posts made in WordPress.
  • 46,200 Instagram posts uploaded

And that’s not all. The average internet user (you and I) are spending almost six and a half hours consuming content online every day. There’s more to it than that, 71% of B2B buyers said that they consume blog content during a purchase.

These are astonishing numbers.

If you don’t distinguish your brand from countless competitors, the content deluge will swallow you. Successful B2B brands have taken their time to work on their positioning, so they stand out and attract the attention they deserve.

But positioning your brand favorably is tough. That’s why most brands are jostling for a position far behind a handful of companies that dominate the markets.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to develop a unique and memorable B2B brand people notice.

If you read to the end, there’s a bonus to learn more principles about product marketing. You’ll learn how my agency, Growth Ramp, doubled an early-stage startup’s annualized revenue by 127%. We did so in six months, using 14 different principles.

Create A B2B Marketing Strategy That Works.
Get the strategies & techniques the fastest growing brands use daily.

To make sure we are on the same page, let’s answer the question:

What is Brand Positioning in B2B?

Brand positioning is the process of shaping a company to occupy a distinct place in the minds of its customers compared to competitors.

Put another way, brand positioning helps customers pick your company over your competitors.

In B2B, product features are often very similar. By positioning your brand, you will have the upper-hand to compete on more than price alone.

Positioning, however, is a two-sided process. “Most brands only address what they are,” says Aaron Orendorff, VP of Marketing at Common Thread Collective, “and forget to make it equally clear what they are not.”

With the U.S. GDP growing by 2.3% in 2019, B2B brands must position themselves correctly to get a piece of the pie.

5 Steps to Developing a Unique and Memorable B2B Brand

You’ve seen the amazing power of excellent positioning. But how exactly do you design your positioning in the marketplace?

These are the five steps to developing a unique and memorable brand:

  1. Talk to your customers.
  2. Do market research to validate brand messaging.
  3. Choose your brand positioning.
  4. Create your value proposition.
  5. Refine your value proposition into a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

Here’s a diagram on how to create a USP, which I’ll explain in this article:

brand messaging hierarchy 5

To create a memorable USP and brand position, you’ll begin by talking to your customers.

Step 1: Talk to your customer.

A common fear people have when positioning is, “Is there enough business if I niche down this far?”

When you properly position your company, you must be willing to turn the wrong customers away. But who are the right customers you should work with?

To remove your fear of positioning your business wrong, start by talking to your customers.

Talking to your customers will allow you to find out why they bought your product instead of another product.

How do you talk to customers?

First, reach out to them via email sequences using a tool like Mailshake or Rightinbox. Email has a wide reach too. Projections show we will send 333.2 billion emails in 2021.

Second, hop on a phone call and ask them questions. Your goal is to ask customers what they’ve done in the past and are doing right now. No one knows what they will do in the future.

People may forget what happened in the past. But since the past event has happened, you don’t have to guess if their prediction is accurate.

Understanding what previous customers have said, done, and thought can help you predict what future customers will say, do, and think.

Here are some questions you can ask in your customer interview:

  • Think back to the days before you started using our product. What was your life like before us?
  • If you can recall, what made you look for our product?
  • Since starting to use our product, what would you say is the can’t-live-without-it improvement it’s made to your work?
  • If you were to run our company, what is ONE thing you would do differently?
  • If you can recall, what competitors have you used in the past or are you using alongside our product now?
  • What did you like most about them?
  • What was your biggest complaint? Was that the reason you left them?
  • If you were to talk to a coworker about our product, what would you say about us that you’d be unlikely to say about any other solutions like ours you’ve used?

Once you ask a question, you’ll need to document what the customer is saying.

For best results, though, just listen and only make notes about things you want to follow up on during the interview. Don’t document what the customer is saying as she’s saying it. Instead, be sure to record every interview with your customer’s permission, or bring in a second interviewer to take thorough notes.

Step 2: Validate your brand messaging.

Let’s go back to the Growth Ramp diagram I mentioned earlier, we’re now at the second step of determining the brand messaging:

brand messaging hierarchy 3

To do this, first look for patterns of what the customers told you.

  • Do they want faster speeds?
  • Do they love that you always deliver your product on time?
  • Do they like that you sold their home in 45 days?

This will give you a starting point for your brand positioning.

After interviewing your customers, I recommend you survey your market to help you triangulate the data. We want to avoid looking for confirmation of what you’ve learned while avoiding confirmation bias. Instead, see if you can’t validate or invalidate what you’ve found.

Use a tool like Pollfish, SurveyMonkey Research, or Google Surveys to run your survey.

Many of these tools partner with companies like Swagbucks, who pay people to make money online by answering surveys. You’ll get 85-90% of useful responses, while the rest will be obvious duds. With Pollfish, you can get any responses you don’t want exchanged for free.

The tricky thing about surveying people is that you can never be sure you’re surveying someone who might be a future customer. So take what you learn with a grain of salt.

Step 3: Use the brand messaging to figure out your positioning

As I noted earlier, brand positioning is where your brand sits in the hearts and minds of customers. Particularly, comparing you against your competitors.

So before you land on your positioning, you first need to know how your competitors position themselves in the market.

brand messaging hierarchy 4

To gather this competitive intelligence:

  1. Start by listing all your competitors.
  2. Look at how each competitor positioned their company.
  3. Consider what your customers told you about competitors.

You can also use Google auto-suggest to help you find even more competitors.

Type in the name of your biggest competitor and add “vs.” afterward. Then go through each letter of the alphabet. Here’s an example for TurboTax:

google search bar

Next, you’ll want to look at how each competitor positions their company.

A simple way to see how each competitor positions their company is to write down:

  • What each competitor lists on their homepage title tag.
  • What each competitor has as their main header on the homepage (typically their H1).

This will give you a clear picture of how best to position your brand, not to mention give you some actionable content ideas you can write about on your company’s blog.

For instance, Goura realized most repricing software for Amazon was rigid. So they positioned theirs as a tool “able to take a handful of settings and handle a multitude of situations.”

Step 4: Express your brand’s positioning with a clear value proposition.

A value proposition is a value you promise to deliver to your customers.

While competing in The Amazing Race, Blake Mycoskie visited Argentina during one of the legs of the race. Although he had been to several other countries, this place woke him to a new reality.

Blake revisited Argentina four years later, where he met a woman volunteering to deliver shoes to shoeless children. Soon he felt a mission to start a shoe company to provide footwear to more children in need. His goal was to donate one pair of shoes for every pair someone bought.

This famous footwear company is better known as TOMS.

With 200 shoes and a strong value prop, Blake pitched journalists until the LA Times picked up his story. To his surprise, Mycoskie generated $88,000 in orders over the weekend. Eight years later, in 2014, TOMS valuation was $625 million.

What’s the big lesson here?

The better the value you promise customers (AKA your value prop) and the clearer you communicate it, the more sales you’ll make.

This brings us to this stage in the positioning process—writing a value proposition:

brand messaging hierarchy 2

A strong value proposition should be:

  1. Relevant to your customers’ acute pain. It’s written in the language of your customer, so your customers’ know it addresses their ongoing problems.
  2. Clear about the value you offer and how it will improve their lives. A customer should be able to read and understand your value prop in five seconds (or less). There should be no hype or business jargon.
  3. Specific about the benefits you offer. There is a concrete result a customer will get from buying from your product.
  4. Different from what your competition offers.

Eachnight, a mattress company, is a good case-in-point. Their language shows their main concern is people’s health, not just a comfortable bed to sleep on. So their value prop is, “A curated and mindful approach to health, wellness, and sleep.”

eachnight

Here’s a problem if you stop at creating a value proposition.

Your competitors can copy your value proposition. For example, I’ve found over 30 companies using the 1-for-1 value prop TOMS uses. As the novelty of their model has worn off, TOMS has been struggling to pay back their loans.

So how do you transform a powerful value prop that makes more sales AND is unlikely competition will ever steal it? By turning your value prop into a USP.

Step 5: Add specificity to turn your value prop into a unique sales proposition (USP)

You’re in the final stage of developing a unique and memorable brand. It’s time to turn the value prop into a unique sales proposition.

brand messaging hierarchy 6

What turns a value prop into a USP?

Let’s look at GEICO’s USP:

“15 minutes could save you 15% or more on your car insurance.”

GEICO’s marketing agency knew auto insurance buyers wanted two things:

  1. More savings.
  2. Spend very little time.

But all auto insurance can promise more savings in a short amount of time.

To prevent this, GEICO offers a specific claim. That is, “…15 minutes could save you 15%” becomes a risk-free guarantee.

A customer might think, “I’m paying $200/month in auto insurance. I’d be willing to spend 15 minutes to potentially save $30/month!”

Yes, using a specific claim could influence a competitor to steal it. Yet, a USP often requires a change to the product or the company’s operations. 3 Unique Sales Proposition Examples to Inspire You

How do you differentiate yourself to find that “in” to connect your customers? How do you make your brand come first in customers’ minds when they choose who to buy from?

The best way to connect with customers is:

By creating a unique sales proposition (or USP).

Here are three case studies to inspire you. Example #1. Anacin head relief. In the 1950s, Rosser Reeves tripled Anacin’s revenue in 18 months from $18 million to $54 million by advertising a unique selling proposition.. His message focused on the medicine’s speed of action “Anacin, fast, fast, fast relief.”

That wasn’t his only popular selling crusade. Other famous marketing campaigns from Reeves were:

  • M&M’s, “melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
  • Colgate toothpaste’s “cleans your breath while it cleans your teeth.”

Note how short, simple, and clear the USPs are. No wonder they stuck in people’s minds.  Example #2: GEICO Insurance brand GEICO wooed customers with a simple yet powerful message:

“15 minutes could save you 15% or more on your car insurance.”

The message resonated; hence GEICO had the largest market share growth in auto insurance from 2000 to 2018.

largest auto insurers

Example #3: Domino’s Domino’s hit the jackpot with a bold promise:

“Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.”

The last time Domino’s gave their signature 30-minute USP guarantee was in 1993.

Yet 24 years after Domino’s ended their guarantee, customers still want free pizza. If that’s not sticky, I don’t know what is.

Domino’s retail sales have been dominating Pizza Hut and Papa John’s from 2014 to 2018:

dominos sales

That’s lasting growth brought by solid positioning.

BONUS STEP: Promote your USP far-and-wide.

Once you’ve created a USP, you will want to spread your message with your go-to-market strategy:

brand messaging hierarchy 1

You can:

  1. Get on podcasts.
  2. Create sales KPIs to get more enterprise clients.
  3. Build an ROI-driven content marketing strategy and find it easy to rank SEO keywords.
  4. Create comparison content, whether that’s creating review articles, one-on-one comparisons or alternative content.
  5. Use an Adwords cheat sheet to acquire customers at a lower price.
  6. Connect with influencers in your niche to promote your content.

The list goes on-and-on.The goal is to promote your USP so it sticks in your customers heads, to fall in love with their hearts, and pay with their wallet.

Time to Position Your Brand

There you have it.

Five simple steps to powerful brand positioning. Five steps that position you as a magnetic one-of-a-kind B2B brand prospects want to do business with.

Let’s sum them up:

  1. Talk to customers.
  2. Do market research to validate brand messaging.
  3. Choose your brand positioning.
  4. Create your value proposition.
  5. Refind your value prop into a USP.
  6. Bonus: Promote your USP far-and-wide.

Nail your brand positioning today and become number one in prospects and customers’ minds.

If you’d like more product marketing advice like this, check out this free 14-day email series on product marketing. You’ll find it valuable because you’ll learn the principles of how Growth Ramp grew a startup’s annualized revenue by +127% in six months.

GUEST CONTRIBUTION

Jason Quey is the CEO and founder of Growth Ramp, a product marketing agency that helps entrepreneurs from idea to scale.

Create A B2B Marketing Strategy That Works.
Get the strategies & techniques the fastest growing brands use daily.

Did you enjoy this post?

Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est eopksio laborum. Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis istpoe natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque eopsloi

The Best Insights On B2B Marketing

Subscribe today to get access to some of the best content on B2B growth & tech.
Top