When it comes to growing a software business, I’m always considering what factors impact success and how they can be tweaked to optimize performance. So, what “Substantial Growth and Remarkable Impact” question am I thinking about today? It’s the question of marketing and sales impact.
When it comes to ERP vendors, one problem is pervasive: There’s very little originality in the industry. Day in and day out, I see tangible examples of “copy behavior” from one company to the next. Marketing messages and strategies look remarkably similar; selling points sounds strangely the same. Consequently, many vendors sound exactly like one another, which makes it very hard for marketing to paint a unique picture of their brand and generate a genuine desire in the market. This also makes it more difficult for sales teams to increase their win-rates–let alone their deal value.
You would expect this copy behavior to mostly be an issue with lesser-known players. After all, the well-established big guys must know how to create unique selling content that makes their products desirable and differentiated. However, what I’ve discovered is that the opposite is true. Even the best companies in the game are creating marketing copy that sounds like their competitors.
To best understand the marketing challenges (and wins) of ERP vendors, I recently did a messaging study on the top 4 ERP players in the market. What I found was the following:
Messaging Is Similar–Across the Board
Every top ERP vendor pushes the same messages to customers and potential customers. Eight out of 10 marketing topics are dominant in the messaging of each vendor, which means that there is very little differentiation happening when it comes to what is being sold or who to buy from.
Principles Are Outdated
The marketing messaging of ERP vendors mostly seems to be focused on old principles. These principles haven’t changed over the past 20 years and include ideas like increased efficiency, better user experience, easier implementation, improved compliance, enhanced insight and TCO. We’re not seeing anything to demonstrate that companies are focusing on innovation or coming up with new solutions. And no one vendor seems to be moving forward faster than any other.
No Vendor Is Recognizing the Full Power or Potential of the Cloud
We always hear that “the Cloud” is a great way to automate your business. Companies typically focus their promotion content on the benefits of the Cloud as just a delivery mechanism – to do what you do today, just a bit better and somewhat cheaper. However, the Cloud has so much more potential than that. And yet, no ERP vendor seems to acknowledge this or use it to differentiate its product or company. The potential of the Cloud is consistently underplayed in marketing messaging.
If companies really want to explain how their solutions could revolutionize the workplace, its processes and its current systems, they could do some research into the evolved potential of the Cloud, and then make their findings the messaging they use to get potential customers to choose them over a competitor.
ERP Vendors Are Trying to Sell Based on the What, Not the Why
When you look at the marketing and sales messaging of the biggest ERP vendors, you can see that it’s mostly focused on the “what” of the things they’re selling, and not the “why.” This means that marketing content describes features of programs and platforms, explaining what customers will get once they make a purchase.
Instead, marketing messaging would be much more effective if it focused on the ‘why’, i.e., explaining what’s fundamentally broken and underserved in the market, what this results in and what unique value would be unlocked if it was solved. By tying these benefits to the core business goals of existing and potential customers, ERP vendors can make it clear why subscribing to the software is worth the investment i.e. why doing nothing is not an option. Marketers and sales teams should be focusing on creating desire based on the unique value they offer, not the nuts and bolts of their product.
Too Much Inside-Out Focus, Instead of Outside-In
Far too much of the marketing and sales content coming from ERP marketers talks about the basic needs the product will currently serve. No one is touching upon the aspirations of their target market, i.e. helping achieve their mid- to longterm vision and/or the positive impact it will have on their customers’ customers. In other words, the focus is inside-out, rather than outside-in.
My question for you today is: Why? Why aren’t more companies focusing on the “what could be” of potential customers using the solutions in order to show how they can get where they want to go?
I guess the real answer lies in the herding mentality and copying behavior that I outlined above. If your competitor makes a claim, don’t just make the same claim. Make sure you use that opportunity to differentiate yourself, so you stand out and resonate with your ideal customer. That is the only way in today’s competitive environment that you’re going to get noticed amid the rest of the pack. This will set you apart as a vendor worth buying from, rather than simply another option that sits in the middle of a very crowded space.
Here are some tips to get started crafting a value proposition that resonates.
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- Get some fresh ideas how to create a value proposition that resonates
- Attend my free webinar how to create a sales pitch that sticks
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