April 17th, 2018
6 minutes

Market positioning and how to differentiate yourself in your prospects’ eyes

Marketing has changed more in recent years than it ever did during the previous 50, and we are now in the era of Marketing 3.0, the age of values.

If you’re on a Marketing team, you know that the old 4Ps (or 7Ps) model doesn’t deliver the same results that it used to, and the magic formula “the more you spend on advertising and push marketing, the more you increase your sales” no longer works at all. But what has changed? And how can you differentiate yourself to improve your performance?

The evolution from Marketing 1.0 to Marketing 3.0

For many years, marketers have devised push marketing campaigns to generate leads, running email campaigns, events, and managing press relations, operating in conjunction with call centers and telemarketers. They sometimes used to try to press every button at once (Marketing 1.0), and then work by focusing on offerings (Marketing 2.0), and now more recently they are trying to share values (Marketing 3.0).

Marketing 1.0

Marketing 1.0

Marketing 1.0 was the age of mass marketing. It was enough to create products and advertise them a bit to sell them. It didn’t much matter whether they were good or bad. Interactions with buyers at this time were limited to advertising and catalogs of offerings.

Marketing 2.0

Marketing 2.0

Then came Marketing 2.0 with an excess of offerings and intensified competition, requiring firms to refocus on customers to meet their needs, and to adopt a differentiated positioning relative to their competitors.

Marketing 3.0

Marketing 3.0

But more recently, Marketing version 3.0 has incorporated value marketing, so in addition to having the right products, that meet customer requirements in a differentiated way, you now need to share values with your customers…

This digital transformation is changing purchasing behavior. The “good old” marketing techniques are becoming less and less effective, and more and more resources have to be employed to generate the same number of leads as before, running the risk of tarnishing a company’s image with prospects who just slam the door before you’ve got a word out.

Why market positioning should form the core of your strategy

To create an effective marketing strategy today in B2B software publishing, three key factors must be considered:

Market positioning and competition


Your prospects are faced with a multitude of software offerings, and have less time than ever to compare them. They are accustomed to filtering out ads and are choosing to look only at offerings that seem genuinely appropriate and relevant to the problems they need to solve.

Recommendations in market positioning

The influence of recommendations

Given this excess supply, your prospects are also inclined to ask others who have already made a comparison which they prefer, or to look at the software used by similar companies and the benefits they have gained from it. Customer recommendations are an increasingly important factor.

Creating purpose for market positioning

The need to create meaningful purpose

Even in the B2B IT sector, your prospects and customers want to share your values and see that their software projects serve a purpose. They need therefore to be aware of the value of your offering, but also of your goals in its future development. Only marketing positioning can convey such values.

The complex sales cycles of the IT B2B sector are not immune from this deep-rooted transformation in purchasing behavior.

A market positioning strategy enhances your performance

Given the glut of software on offer, and the need for a meaningful purpose, one of the first consequences is that the idea of targeting a mass market has become almost fanciful. Especially in the B2B IT sector where it is genuinely important to precisely define your targets as market segments and also as individuals (i.e. buyer personas).

Once these targets are identified, proper care must be taken to link their needs as an organization and their expectations as individuals with the various aspects of your offering to establish which issues your solution tackles, how you solve the day-to-day problems they face, and how yours is truly different from competing offerings.

The traditional pitches given by software publishers focusing on their solutions’ functionalities, or those by IT service companies focusing on their project methodologies, no longer suffice given the level of competition. Improving your marketing positioning will help you make a lasting impression on your prospects and support your growth.

Building your marketing strategy around a differentiating marketing positioning, and the resulting value propositions, therefore means you are starting a virtuous circle for improvement of your performance, because when your first customers use your product or service, and are fully satisfied with it, they will recommend you unprompted, and become your first ambassadors.

What redefining your marketing positioning entails

Marketing positioning carries innovation and development along with it; at least, that is how it should be perceived by other internal teams, including sales. Rebuilding your marketing positioning consequently requires an overhaul of the three fundamental components in the “big picture” of a company’s marketing strategy:

Your identity in terms of market positioning Your identity in terms of market positioning

Who you are…

Your positioning is a USP that should reflect your mission statement: why does your organization exist and what is it looking to change in the market?

Your business and the services you want to position

What you do…

Your value propositions must be centered on the benefits that your software and services bring to customers. Software functionalities are just a means to achieve these ends.

Messaging for market positioning

What you inspire…

Your visual and textual identity is as important as the substance of your messages: your corporate identity and the visuals used must usefully support your promises.

In highly competitive B2B sectors, differentiating positioning is the cornerstone of your marketing plan, whereby marketing and sales teams combine in showcasing your strengths with a consistent, unique message that sets you apart from your competitors.

Key success factors for a new market positioning strategy

Redefining marketing positioning and associated value propositions is a strategic matter that impacts the entire business. It should particularly unite sales and marketing teams around a common goal, i.e. lead generation.

The success of such a redefinition depends therefore not only on the appropriateness of the new marketing positioning but also on teams’ buy-in and the operational implementation in day-to-day actions, such as the strategy around product development, communication both on the website and in marketing campaigns, the sales tools used and the sales messages delivered out in the field every day, and so on.

Contact us to discuss your marketing positioning

Damien Andrieu During my over 17 years of experience in marketing for the IT and software industry, I've learned the transformational role marketing can have on business. To transform something, one must listen, understand, recommend, envision, and implement. This quest for results and impactful outcomes keeps me motivated everyday.
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