The Heart of B2B Marketing Strategy Success

By Chris Fell, Managing Director, G2M Solutions

It’s just SO tempting for B2B marketers to want to target large juicy market segments and market an ever increasing portfolio of products to that audience.

The cold hard truth is that there is nothing less likely to succeed. When I broach this topic with the delegates at ADMAs B2B Marketing Strategy course, I often get quizzical looks. Surely the larger the market the better? There are more potential customers that just have to be a better place for us to fish! Doesn’t it?

In B2B marketing, being a small fish in a big pond isn’t fun. You get pushed around by the big fish, bullied, picked on; it’s tough to win in a fight. Think about the last time you were in a sales call and positioned your company’s value proposition with a client. Did you have to say “Ahhh yes, we are like {insert name of your sector’s dominant player} but cheaper/more flexible service/we bundle heaps of extra stuff for free”…sound familiar?

Every time you are compelled to do this you are giving your competitor a “free kick”, you are acknowledging they are the number one team in town. In many cases non-dominant players are forced to compete on price, putting pressure on margins.

So what’s the solution? Pick a pond that you can dominate. Don’t ask how big my market is; ask instead how small is the market I need to play in, if I am to dominate, if I am to become the big fish.

So lets take a simple example; you make mobile computers…that’s a pretty tough market to dominate and there are lots of powerful big fish. Instead, use focus as your strategy and market to the Mining sector, or the Agricultural sector emphasising your mobile products ruggedised design features (assuming your product does possess such features!).

So how do you figure out how small your market needs to be for you to be dominant? You need to work out a couple of things. Firstly, what’s my share in the market I am playing in at the moment?

  • How big is my current target market?
  • How many customers do I currently have? 
  • What’s my current market share?

…and then figure out:

  • In my focus sector, what would a dominant market share look like given the market characteristics? 

Is it 20%, 30% or 50%? It’s unlikely to be less than 30%. In Australia most markets are dominated by 2 or 3 big players. We all know the market power of the banks and supermarkets in Australia (to name but two examples). I expect you can think of several more in your area of business.

  • How many customers can I realistically service given my sales, support and delivery capabilities in the next 12-24 months?

Am I constrained by my manufacturing or service capability? Is my distribution channel capacity limited? There are almost always constraints on the supply side of your business that mean you couldn’t support more than a certain volume of business, regardless of your sales success.

  • Multiply the dominant share required by your capability to service customers and you have the size of the market that will allow you to dominate.

Almost inevitably these calculations will yield a much smaller market size than you started with. Focusing on this smaller market and focusing your sales and marketing efforts to dominate this smaller sector will mean the benefits of being the big fish will accumulate to you, over time.

A couple of words of warning. The market has to recognise itself as a real market you can’t simply invent a market segment and decide to dominate it. Vertical markets are great focus markets as buyers often have similar challenges you will be great at solving.

Similarly, this approach of “Focus as a Strategy” works best in markets that are still relatively immature and growing, it works less well in very mature markets.

Lastly and most importantly of all, your actions must follow your strategy. The biggest benefit of focusing on a market to dominate is the amount of single-minded, devoted marketing effort that follows in your tactics and planning. Now the problems you solve for prospects, their needs and the benefits of your solution become clearer. Your new, more tightly focused messaging is heard loud and clear by prospects. Your tactics acquire a new found relevance and your plan of attack is simplified and tightly directed.

If you find yourself struggling to compete with the big fish in your market, change your approach, focus your energies on a smaller market and direct your sales and marketing energies. Dominate that sector and move on to your next chosen target.

If you would like to find out more about taking your B2B Marketing from strategy to action, why not check out ADMAs B2B Marketing Strategy Course.

This blog was provided by Chris Fell, Managing Director of G2M Solutions. Chris also has his own weekly blog from G2M Solutions.

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