How smart marketing wins over larger competitors

Smart Marketing is: To start by attracting visitors by talking about their symptoms, and then help them understand their challenges from a whole new angle – an angle that positions your solution as the superior choice. So can do you accomplish this?

Marketers who understand the psychology and the processes that make this work are playing in another league. In this post we’ll explain the three steps accomplishing this.

Step 1: Smart marketing gives customers a frame of reference that makes competitors irrelevant

When a customer experiences a problem, they rarely search for the problem itself, but on the symptoms that the problem causes. You attract them by talking about these symptoms, not about the problem or your solutions.

This means that you meet your customers on their playing field, and win their attention. There’s just one thing.. The customer is often wrong. They think they need to solve problems with broken drivers, but actually they need global driver management. They think they need an odor remover, but they need a biological grease separator. Or they think they need better developers, but they need training for their product managers.

But if you start with that, they’ll lose interest. They do not yet have your worldview. You look at the same problem but you see quite different things. The customer sees a user who does not manage to print out his document and thinks of drivers, while you see the same thing and thinking about how their IT administrators on the other side of the earth updated that printer together with all the other thousands of printers in the company .

Marketing ParadigmTherefore, the first task of the marketer is to give the customers a new perspective on their problem. Your first task is therefore to give your potential customers a pair of new glasses from which they can see their problem more clearly.

If your brand can talk about your customers’ problems from a different angle – one that competitors don’t share – and your customers buy into that frame of mind, your competitors will have been made irrelevant for those customers. Because their way of talking about the same problem will no longer make sense. When competitors describe their features, they won’t make sense based on this new worldview.

This sounds very wooshy, but let me give an example. When Bioteria’s existing customers think of grease separators, they do not actually think of grease separators. They think about biology, they think about the environment, they think about their children’s future, and they think about ecological cleansing. When competitors say that their grease separators are doing something cool, it just slips over the customer’s head. Because it’s not a question the customer even considers. Instead, they are thinking about what world they want their children to grow up in.

Step 2: Smart marketing is to position your brand across the competition

With your unique way of interpreting your customers’ problems, and if you’re able to convey that to the customers, you will have made the bulk of your competitors irrelevant. But there will probably still be a few competitors who share the same worldview as you, competing for customers with the same basic message.

Marketing positioning
Marketing positioning

This brings us into traditional strategic marketing: Positioning you vs. your remaining competitors.

While the battle to give context to the symptoms (chapter above) was about ideology, this battle is about tactics. Your job here is to create a position for
your brand in a way that gives it a unique place in customer mind and separates it from competing brands. You do this with messaging and style.

Often this battle is won in the heart of the customer, not in their mind. If the customer trusts you, he/she buys your solution, even if your direct competitor has more, cheaper or slightly better features. You must get the customer to trust that your brand is either the best within the context you just set, or that your culture is such that you will soon be.

For Bioteria, in the example above, it would be to convince the customer that their grease separator is the best environmentally friendly one, and to talk about their culture in a way that makes customers feel confident that their employees are passionate about environmentally friendly grease separators and experts in their field.

Step 3: Smart marketing reaches out with your approach and position through good and relevant content

Content MarketingYou have defined a world view that allows customers to understand their symptoms through a completely new context, and you have defined a good branding strategy that positions you as the best in that context. But without good content, nobody will buy into your view. Therefore, good content is your means to spread your worldview and your position.

But it is not enough to spread it to as many as possible and hope for the best. If you send out everything you have everywhere and all the time, people will eventually get tired of you. In the past, if you had money, you could do that. Customers didn’t have a say in it – they had to see your ads. Not today. Today, customers can choose to ignore you and read or see someone else’s content.

Therefore, your content needs to be relevant to where the buyer is in their journey at this moment (if they think they need to solve specific symptoms, if they have already bought in to your worldview, and if they are interested in evaluating your solution). It also needs to be tailored to the buyer’s areas of interest – for example, you cannot send information about all your solutions to a customer, but only the specific solution that solves their specific problems based on your common world view.

Content can also be spread across different channels, and it is important that a customer receives the same message no matter what channel they are on. Therefore, you need to be able to travel your customers’ journeys along with them.

To do this, you don’t just need a content strategy, but also a system that detects where your customers are, what they’re interested in, and deliver the right content at the right time.

Summary: How smart marketing wins over bigger and stronger competitors

Most of your competitors write about their products and send out as much as possible to as many as possible on as many channels as possible. The more money they have, the more they can do. This is the brute force approach. Those using it hope they push their message to as many as possible, so that some who happen to find themselves in just the right mindset at the right time bite. If they are slightly better, they also write about the problems that underlie the solution.

Brute Force works as long as you have money and resources, and as long as you continue to do so, but as soon as you stop producing, the leads and the deals dry up. And brute force costs a lot. Finally, you risk damaging your brand by being too pushy. How did you feel the last time you read a corporate brochure about their latest products and services, or got an email you never asked for that is about how good someone’s products are?

Smart Marketing does the opposite: It starts with the symptoms that customers feel – even if they are seemingly unrelated to your product. After the customer’s curiosity is captured, they the symptoms in the light of a new context that causes the customer to gently question whether their current assumptions are accurate. They get the customer to ponder and see the symptoms from a completely new perspective. The customer who previously experienced seemingly unrelated problems suddenly understands how everything is connected in a much larger and more important context.

At this moment, potential competitors suddenly lose their relevancy. Their products and their features fly right over your customer’s head. The customer ignores them.

The customer talks about their new insights and ways to look at their problems for their friends, colleagues and acquaintances in the industry. More people buy into your approach, more people read your articles, and more people want to understand how this fits in with their way of working and how it connects with problems they never realize they had.

Your Marketing Automation is set up to sense all of this – and suddenly it sends a notification your way: A potential customer is ready to look at solutions! A salesperson gets a new lead, and can make contact. And unlike a cold call, the customer is happy to talk to you. They start off speaking the same language from the get-go, and the connection is much easier to make. Soon, you have a new customer.

That’s how smart marketing can win over much bigger and stronger competitors. Because while they are pushing with all of their resources, most of the power is ineffective. Meanwhile, you open the door and gently show curious people how they can solve their problems if they only think of the symptoms from a slightly different perspective.


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About the Author

Yusuf Young

Yusuf helps companies use Marketing Automation to grow B2B sales. In his role as a Marketing Automation consultant implementing systems such as HubSpot and Salesforce, he discovered the need for better services at a lower cost. Today, he runs FunnelBud to make the fruits of sales and marketing technology available to businesses worldwide.