Differentiation in B2B

Differentiation is often spoken of as the holy grail of marketing.  It is what makes your product or service stand apart.  Being different is good because it supports a USP.

But differentiation is different in B2B than B2C.  In B2C, the emphasis is on product-specific differences – typically, tangible and visible differences in function, performance or design.  Differentiation focuses on the question of “in what ways is our product different from others?”

In B2B, the products and services are typically more complex and an attempt to define differentiation relative to competitors leads to extremely granular communications about “feeds and speeds” that leave most audiences (other than product engineers) bored and confused.

The key question in a B2B context is not “different from whom?” but rather “different FOR whom?” Differentiation is about what makes you uniquely qualified to deliver distinctive value to a specific client. What matters is how your capabilities mesh perfectly with the needs of the client. Your offering does not have to be the fastest, brightest, most flexible or even the cheapest – but it does have to be the one that best suits their needs.

So the next time a B2B customer asks “what makes your company different?” do NOT view this an invitation to talk about you.  It is the opportunity to explain why your company is able to deliver distinctive value to them.

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