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

B2B Marketing… what’s it all about?

Someone asked me today what it takes to win in B2B marketing. My answer: differentiation. And while that’s not the only task required to be successful, it is the first and most important one.

The reason lies in our human nature. We’re animals. And the unconscious mind of all animals involuntarily, uncontrollably pays attention to things that are different. The mind mostly ignores the rest. Marketers should accept this and use it to their advantage.

Yet, I often see B2B marketers (and salespeople) squander their initial opportunity to capture attention and interest by talking about why their product is better or best. No. No. No. Wrong. When granted a few seconds of attention, a smart marketer uses that brief time to communicate the product’s key difference(s). (Studies show, on average, you’ll initially be given around three seconds.) Later you can and should talk about other things. But the first encounter should focus on capturing attention. And the sure way to achieve this? Emphasize what’s different.

Did you know…babies as young as six months old can discern the difference in the number of objects displayed on flash cards shown to them rapidly in succession (2 objects vs. 3, for instance)? And did you know this holds true even when they may have no idea what those objects are? These same babies become bored and stop paying attention when the number of objects shown on successive flash cards remains the same. But change up the number of items – show them a different quantity of objects on one card to the next – and once again they snap to attention.

To have any hope of winning in today’s crowded markets requires you to appear different. It’s also imperative that your difference be something your audience cares about. I’m talking about relevance. And relevance is the second most important thing you must accomplish to win in B2B marketing. More about relevance in our next installment.

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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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