The process of creating and ensuring a knowledge-based competitive advantage in the B2B space is very complex and implies numerous factors. In client acquisition, companies need to be aware of the benefits of both capturing and creating demand, as influencing product or service consideration for market players that are not in buying mode can prove a long-term winning strategy. One of the most efficient ways to increase brand awareness and, with it, drive differentiation in highly competitive markets (and ultimately create demand), is building a competitive advantage based on a highly valuable asset: knowledge.
Why knowledge; or the importance of education marketing
Turning a certain competence into a sustainable competitive advantage is rather complex nowadays due to, among others, the advancements in technology. Companies improve existing skills as well as master new ones continually. Knowledge is now not just internally acknowledged, but used as a powerful asset in sales and marketing processes.
Knowledge is the most important for competitive advantage because it is the most difficult to replicate. Years of experience in working on certain types of products and services are an invaluable asset marketers should exploit. Moreover, due to its complexity, relevance, and non-replicability, knowledge can easily become a source of sustainable competitive advantage. Technical expertise, market know-how, understanding and implementing user feedback, and so on are real assets that, when managed properly, can help your business thrive.
Facts to consider before committing to any marketing and sales strategy
🔹 A huge portion of your audience isn’t actively buying
If we consider the general practice of cold outreach (emailing especially), sales reps need to be aware that some business opportunities might be lost due to the fact that everyone’s inbox is now crammed with so many emails. Over 269 billion emails are sent daily; moreover, email open rates have fallen from 24% in 2019 to 21.3% in 2020. Technically, the average person receives up to 150 emails a day. It’s rather obvious that your sales effort should not be centered solely on cold outreach.
🔹 Social media is great, but you need to belong to the feed
The way people discover products and services is constantly changing. Social media channels, and even search engines to a certain extent, are not usually the places where people go to discover something about your brand. However, that does not imply that you should not be there at all. On social media, you need to adapt your message and understand that people are there because they want to be entertained, to be informed, to escape reality. Everything you do there must belong on the feed. The headline reading or aimlessly scrolling type of people on social media might find your message intrusive unless it naturally fits in.
🔹 Relevant, educational content is pushed forward
In August 2019, Google published a blog with reminders about its updates regarding the algorithm it uses on its search engine. The so-called E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) you should ensure in order to rank higher in Google searches for a given keyword means that your content must show expertise, be relevant, educate. Linking out to authoritative sources for supporting stats, data, and facts in content, better research, and more depth and deep exploration of topics related to your brand are among the things to consider if you want to be found on Google. A report by Demand Gen has found that 71% of buyers in the B2B space have consumed blog content at some point in their buying journey. Make it relevant and you will be on top of the list when someone is ready to buy.
🔹 Focus on the buyer journey
Sales and marketing teams should create an integrated process that focuses on the buyer journey and understanding its place in the market. The goal of this is to be able to connect your value proposition to the needs of your potential buyer. At the same time, try to answer some of the questions that are relevant, get to know what problems your prospects have, what could grab their attention, what resonates best with them, how can you step in and ensure meaningful progress towards their company’s objectives.
Starting with the buyer in mind allows you to design an offering that meets those exact needs. It saves your time and ensures you’re always prepared to cater to the needs of your prospective clients. The so-called ideal customer/client profile (ICP) is not just an idealistic concept; it has multiple facets and it is up to you to find all those aspects that are relevant in any interaction you have with a prospect. Purchases in the B2B space are rather complex and sometimes the value you bring to the table is not quite clear for your target audience. It’s up to you to influence product/service consideration from multiple perspectives and make the potential buyer aware of a new opportunity you’re creating.
🔹 Be where your audience is; they will know where to find you when they’re ready to buy
From a marketing perspective, you need to make sure your endeavors are centered on the mission to inform, to educate, to be relevant. When your audience is constantly exposed to significant, high-quality information about your brand in easy to consume formats, some prospective clients no longer need to be convinced to start a conversation with you or decide on next steps. When they need something, they know where to go first.
🔹 Create highly relevant content
90% of the most successful content marketers put their audience’s information needs first over their promotional message, according to Content Marketing Institute’s B2B report. To ensure affinity, your audience needs to recognize itself in the content you create, you need to educate with it. The fact that Google specifically underlines the E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) means that you need to focus on proving expertise, authority, and trust in the content you create. The current algorithm of the search engine makes use of topic clusters, which means that the more content you create on similar topics, the easier it is for Google to consider you as an expert in a certain area and push your content forward.
Get started by analyzing the right keywords, trends, and ranking potential for your brand. This way, you will create content that provides value to your audience and will be actually consumed. This is the type of content that builds brand awareness, one that leads to subconscious product/service consideration and, eventually, sales opportunities that convert to higher rates. Frequently, gated content negatively impacts the quality of the content because your intent is on getting leads, more than on providing value.
🔹 Leverage the power of LinkedIn
LinkedIn has changed its algorithms to deliver content that will maximize the time spent on its platform. It is easier now to go there with your message and reach a higher audience, as long as you learn to deliver the right insights. Another way to stand out is to develop your authority platform on LinkedIn, and become an industry expert and thought leader for your prospects. Once you facilitate interaction and provide the right content, you become a resource for prospects, not just another vendor. This platform should not be about you at all; you should be just the facilitator, sharing valuable content and resources that address and cover the interests and challenges your prospects face.
The wins for your brand
Being aware of the factors that influence product and service discovery and consideration, and the way people consume content is far more useful nowadays for your sales and marketing efforts. By creatively exploiting one of your most valuable assets – knowledge – you will be able to cut through the noise and build a sustainable competitive advantage. You will not only create increased brand awareness but also product and service consideration. This way, you will be able to retain a clearly defined audience and, ultimately, drive profitable customer action.
About Andreea Zanfirescu
With a background in Computer Science, Andreea has been a member of Maxcode for 9 years, a time in which she grew and mastered different roles, from technical to business-oriented. This experience has helped her understand all stages of the outsourcing business, so now her focus is to discover new opportunities for Maxcode and participate in the evolution of the company. Moreover, her commitment stands and has always stood in a great partnership with our clients, and a flawless collaboration on projects, from start to finish.