Make Your Company Unique: Stop Selling and Become a Thought Leader

Story BookLet’s face it, as an ISV you can probably name a handful of companies whose solutions provide a similar function to yours. Your solution is good, but so are theirs and you are all targeting the same end-users and partners. So how do you position your company as unique in a world of fierce competition? Stop selling people on the features and functions of your solution and start selling them on your most valuable asset—your team and its unique experience.

True, your solution is technically what you sell, but your prospects and partners will ultimately buy into the team that develops and supports the solution that meets their ongoing needs. Look around you—you’re (hopefully) surrounded by experts who each contain a wealth of knowledge ranging from specific product functions to customer success stories to winning partner strategies.

Here are some ways to think about whether you are putting your team’s expertise to use...

Does your marketing team have anything to reach for other than product brochures?

Everyone has product brochures because, let’s face it, you’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into the products you sell and you can talk about the features and functions all day. But by the same token, so can your competitors. They’ve all got development teams that have worked hard to deliver a great product with the right features.

But what does a nice brochure tell a prospect when it’s lined up against others? Probably not much, and for sure it doesn’t get their interest the way case studies and white papers do. What tells them more is that you understand their business issues – either through white papers or case studies that deal with both the problems your company understands and the solutions you can solve.

Can your team tell the great stories?

Your teams may feel like they’re moving at warp speed when it comes to winning deals, serving customers, and supporting products, but within those threads, there are great things going on. Really.

For example, how is your product solving unique problem in a new industry? Can you get your customers to identify tangible benefits or ROI from your solution? How did you arrive at the decision to design your solution the way you did? Were there new market forces at work? New industry trends you understood better than your competitors?

Teasing out the threads that turn into great stories is not the easiest task. So start with something easily achievable. For example, can your staff talk about new wins at internal meetings? Your marketing experts should be listening for the nuggets that prospects and partners can sink their teeth into.

Are you investing more in ads than real content?

Marketing is not cheap. But neither are ads. Print ads, banner ads, are a great way to quickly and easily rack up thousands of dollars in costs, from design to placement. In a sense, ads are easy and obvious way to do marketing. But the cost, both in real dollars and in opportunity cost, can be vast.

Every day you’re plowing money into awareness exercises without a firm platform of core business expertise to stand on. In other words, you can put your logo and catch phrase in front of an audience but what are they going to learn when they scratch the surface? What about when they compare you to your competitors?

Enterprise software customers and their implementation partners know they have options when it comes to vertical and horizontal add-on solutions. They don’t just want great features, they want a partner to move forward wtih both int erms of technology and business outlook.

Start putting your company’s stories together now. Don’t give up on awareness marketing initiatives, but don’t throw away your investments on a strategy that sends prospects to a brand that is only as deep as the feature list on your brochure.

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