Don’t want your solutions commoditized? Don’t commoditize your customers.

By Rod Griffith
March 27, 2017

Leverage relationship incubation to avoid being perceived as a commodity

Commoditization. For most B2B marketers, it’s the death knell. It can suck the soul out of your brand, products, and services. It transforms you, in the eyes of your customer, into just another vendor or solution provider. It takes away all that’s special about your high-value technology solution and turns you into little more than a list of features with a price tag.

To make things worse, technology solutions are more prone to commoditization. Differences between competing technology solutions are often subtle – hard to communicate to customers, and hard for customers to quickly grasp without detailed discussion or demonstration – thwarting your ability to establish competitive differentiation.

Also, an ever-increasing number of technology buying decisions are being made by business people rather than just technologists. Without the ability to quickly differentiate your solution for a non-technical audience, you run an even greater risk of having your solution seen as a commodity.

Build relationships

I don’t like to use the phrase “lead nurturing.” To my ear, it suggests impersonal, volume-based marketing approaches that, in their own way, commoditize customers. While large, broad email campaigns and the like certainly have their place in our tactical toolbox, they’re not always the most effective tactic in business technology markets.

By treating your customers as one large target audience, with no acknowledgement of their personal uniqueness, you effectively commoditize them – and commoditized customers are more likely to commoditize you.

We should take the considerable airtime we give to “lead nurturing” and give it, instead, to “relationship incubation.” Establishing and building personal relationships with your customers can better enable you to effectively differentiate your solutions and services, and reduce the risk of customers perceiving them as a commodity.

Become their strategic advisor

One-to-one relationships give you the chance to offer your customers more than just a solution to an immediate problem. They allow you to offer relevant strategic value that goes beyond the short term.

Your goal should be to become a valuable strategic advisor to your customers – providing insights and long-term direction, and demonstrating market expertise and thought leadership (not simply technical prowess).

When you do that, you’ll be providing more than just a solution among other solutions. By answering the customer’s need for marketplace expertise, vision and advice, you’ll avoid the commodity playing field, where discounting your prices is often the only effective competitive strategy left available to you.

And remember...Do the Smart Thing: Test Your Campaigns