In our work with small-to-medium sized Business to Business companies, sometimes the key to growth lies in our ability to help them elevate their reputation in the marketplace by implementing a marketing strategy and tactical plan that shifts the perception of the firm from a ‘small fry’ to a ‘serious player’.
Let me preface the rest of this blog by saying that there is nothing wrong with being small or smaller. SMBs have lots of advantages over larger companies but sometimes there is a perception among larger organizations that smaller firms can’t handle their orders, are not always professionally run or might not be around for the long haul. Setting this aside, the talented SMBs we work with have incredible products and services that larger corporations need whether they are OEMs who white label their products, offer niche expertise or use their product/service as an input into their offering.
There are different points in a company’s evolution in which appearing ‘big’ can be critical and necessary. Here are just a few of the common situations we see and how marketing can help:
1) Expanding Globally. Selling to a global marketplace often requires a firm to refine their position in the marketplace, augment/add to their key messages to serve new markets and target segments and elevate their brand image to better compete in a global marketplace.
2) Increasing OEM / Corporate Client Base. When selling to larger corporations, having a strong brand image builds credibility and reputation. Tactics such as Public Relations, Case studies, Relationship Building can be particularly helpful in demonstrating your company’s expertise and capability in managing their needs.
3) Disrupting the Industry. For companies that are first-to-market with a revolutionary technology, developing a strong marketing program that effectively promotes this technology and establishes your firm as the creator and leader is critical. Tactics such as proof of concept trials, public relations, targeted business development and thought leadership help educate the market and target early adopters.
4) Transitioning Ownership. Going through a transition can often be a good time for re-evaluating a company’s brand image. Often these are times in which is a business is entering a new era and one that requires a more professional and sophisticated image – examples include: a family run business that is transferring ownership/management to the next generation, transfer of ownership from founder to professional manager, a new management team has recently been put in place given a re-structure or simply to move to a more professionally-run business. In these situations, often, an over-haul is required which may include everything from brand re-positioning to a new look and feel that manifests in a new website, collateral, campaigns, etc.
5) Beating the Competition. In some B2B industries, the competition is weak when it comes to marketing. While this is sometimes a relief for some, it’s a significant opportunity. Building up your brand image when the others are weak can put you leaps ahead, particularly if you are trying to take market share away and if they have a longer history and broader market reach.
Appearing ‘big’ isn’t about misrepresenting your company, it’s about developing an image that conveys confidence, demonstrates your capabilities, showcases your successes and communicates a clear, concise and differentiated position in the market. Corporations don’t primarily care how many employees you have or the square feet of your facilities – they care about the value you can bring to them over your competitors.
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