Nail your rivals: I think this marketing trick is B2Brilliant

I promised when I set this blog up that I’d share a few tricks that you might be able to apply, tomorrow, to your B2B marketing work. Some of you may be using this technique regularly already but, if not, this is one of my fave tricks when writing sales presentations or other marketing literature…

Positioning your product and de-positioning your rivals

I saw a sales guy pull this stunt once, and was so hit by the simple brilliance of it that I’ve tried to use it when I can ever since. I’m not sure if this style of chart has an official name, so for the purposes of this post I’m going to call it the ‘nail your rivals to the wall’ chart. More maturely, and for those of you that have read your Al Ries & Jack Trout, or perhaps your Dave Trott, it is a masterclass in positioning your product / service / brand, while de-positioning your rivals.

Here it is. (I’ve used fake content for the purposes of this post, but I hope you’ll get the idea).

A chart to position yourself and de-position your rivals

What, when and why?

I’m hoping the chart pretty much speaks for itself. It shows, in 5 seconds flat, why a customer should pick your service, and not your rival’s. I first saw it used in a product demonstration, but it also works in pitches, in brochures, on websites, you name it – and  I’ve found that it can work so effectively that the customer doesn’t even need to read the text to be persuaded by it. And while I would always advocate promoting product or service benefits in your marketing literature rather than features, I’ve experienced that this still works just fine with product features.

There are probably a host of psychological or scientific reasons why it works, but here’s my gut feel about it:

  1. It’s highly visual: You can see the difference between your offer and your rivals’ in seconds. It signposts everything for the reader – making it easy to digest;
  2. It uses universal language: The signposting is further reinforced by using traffic light symbols – namely ‘green means go’ and ‘red means danger’. Those things are universally understood. (I may try it with skull & crossbones one day ;-);
  3. It’s bite-sized and steers the conversation: It picks the five (or it could be the two, three or any number of) things that you’d like the customer to focus on – aiming to steer conversations towards things that you’d like to talk about. If you present it verbally, there is a killer, throwaway remark you might consider casually dropping into the conversation… “you mean the other suppliers haven’t mentioned this stuff to you? Maybe you should bring it up.” Bingo – you’ll force your rivals into a difficult conversation, hopefully making them look like total schmucks. (NB I don’t know what a schmuck actually is or what it actually looks like – I just like lines from old movies); and
  4. It’s honest: What I think is a clincher is having the odd tick in a rival column. That’s a masterstroke in my opinion. Why? Because it makes the whole thing more believable. It makes it sound like what you’re saying isn’t too good to be true. It shows you’re being honest and transparent (which, by the way, is always the only policy in marketing communications. The truth will out).

But there’s a snag (or is there?)

There’s one obvious flaw with this approach – what do you do if your product or service has no clear distinguishing factors? Lots of B2B brands don’t have unique selling points (USPs) – or at least not ones the customer cares about (hence the S in USP). The two responses to that are:

  1. Get some USPs, for example via product development; and/or
  2. Make sure your branding and other marketing communications are totally kick-ass.

(I avoided option 3 – price discounting. That’s the road none of us want to travel).

And those topics will be the subject of future blog posts.

So that’s it for today.  Just a quick one – but hopefully both simple and effective.Try it out for size.

Good fishing fellow marketers,

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