Differentiation, debates… and Donald Trump!

On the day that Trump was announced as the new President-elect, we hosted a breakfast seminar with PRmoment on how to create a winning differentiation strategy…little did we know when we were planning it all those weeks ago that we’d be using Donald Trump’s election win as an example of how to stand out from the crowd! Politics aside, we delved into the topic at hand with two presentations from Chas Moloney, Ricoh’s Marketing Director and Billy Hamilton-Stent, Client Strategy Director at Octopus Group & Founder of Loudhouse, who were later joined by Paul de Lara, Head of PR – Europe at Infosys, and Kristina Eriksson, Head of Media Relations at the FT for a panel discussion on the consumerisation of B2B comms.

The new buyer journey

Chas’ presentation kicked off proceedings with some insightful examples on how Ricoh has turned its sales and marketing strategy on its head since understanding how the B2B buying journey has evolved. Chas revealed that 57% of the buying journey is done BEFORE a sales rep gets involved and furthermore, on average 5.4 people are now involved in the B2B buying decision. So, what does this new reality mean for B2B comms professionals? For Chas, it means putting it at the centre of everything you do and modifying your marketing plan to be driven around individual prospects, not a calendar. In summary:

  1. We’re all buyers
  2. We don’t completely change our buying behaviour when we come to work
  3. Deploy one core message with one core plan

Beyond the corporate comfort zone

Next up was Billy Hamilton-Stent, who gave the audience some practical advice on how to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and what the three most common differentiators are in B2B:

Picture1

  He also explained how it’s crucial to not only understand your brand, but your audience too, in order to create a different story. Authenticity is the key here though, or your risk alienating your customers. Differentiation is difficult to identify, but truly valuable when its established.

Final thoughts

Last but not least, the panel came together to offer insights into their respective approaches to B2B comms. Whilst a question from the audience threw up a heated discussion as to whether Facebook should be used as a sales platform, overall the panel agreed on the following:

  • In order to succeed, it’s important for brands to innovate to keep things fresh
  • The key to engagement is a two-way conversation – listen to your customers’ needs in order to provide solutions at the right time
  • Instead of reaching out to marketing professionals en masse, brands should focus their efforts on key accounts.