A selection from the new book: Different Rules – the B2B Marketer’s Guidebook to Product Differentiation

B2B “Differentiators” to avoid – Part 1

By Chris Wirthwein

Did you notice, I put the word “differentiators” in quotes in the headline? This is to signify the “differentiators” I’ll describe over the next few articles really aren’t differentiators at all. They are generic claims made by thousands upon thousands of B2B marketers including, I’d be willing to bet, competitors of yours. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. When what you say is the same as a competitor, you are not differentiating yourself. Avoid this. Be different. That’s how you differentiate.

“Our People”

I just typed the phrase, “Our people make the difference,” into Google. I got back 19.1 million hits, including 2.28 million videos in .037 seconds. This “differentiator” commands even less uniqueness than I could ever have imagined. And believe me, I already figured it to be quite meaningless. Millions and millions and millions (19.1 million, last I checked) talk about the amazingness of their people, hardly a differentiator. I clicked a few of the Google links, and learned that electrical contractors, funeral homes, HR consultants, trucking companies, sign language schools, non-metal door makers, bank fraud investigators and countless others tout how their people make the difference.

It is, of course, 100 percent true. No company can do anything, including make a difference without people. Are your people great? Do they do a good job, make a difference? Sure, and that’s terrific. And you should absolutely reward and recognize them for that. But it’s not a marketing differentiator. It just isn’t. And it never will be. Go back to the list above and see if you can transform something about what your people do into a true differentiator.

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Chris Wirthwein is Senior Director for 5MetaCom, a marketing agency that develops strategies and campaigns to differentiate B2B technical and scientific products. He has authored three marketing books, including his latest, Different Rules: The B2B Marketer’s Guidebook to Product Differentiation. You can reach Chris on LinkedIn or at cwirthwein@5metacom.com.

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