It’s me, not you…

We are taught in business from the very early years, that headline-grabbing figures of growth, size, and market domination are all good things. In fact the City literally demands to know your quarter on quarter performance and woe betides those who underperform. But too easily in this environment, companies can get caught up in the ‘me’ and forget about the ‘you’.

Do your customers really want to be repeatedly told of your success – to be bludgeoned by unrelenting news of your size in the market and how many users or systems you have sold? Will they flock to your banner if you give them your latest profitability and revenue figures and tell them how really well you are doing enjoying the benefits of their custom? Or do they really want to hear about how you are going to help them get to the next level; help them to grow and flourish in their particular market?

Don’t get caught up in the euphoria of winning awards and double-digit growth. Remember that it is there to demonstrate that you are an up and coming trusted supplier who is doing well so must be doing something right. The risk of leading with this in your marketing campaigns is to fall into the trap of being seen to be too self-promotional over the interests of your potential clients.

This is where talking to your market about their market can set you apart from your competition and from those people who are determined to win the contest about who has the most users or systems sold, or for that matter, bells and whistles on their product or service. Your customers want to hear that you understand their market – that you understand their problems. They will sit up and listen if you can identify with the issues and drivers in their space, but they’ll be positively ecstatic if you can demonstrate that you are proactively pursuing a programme of activity in your product or service that actively addresses the needs that you have shown you understand.

Talking to your market about their market – or Thought Leadership – is where you separate yourself from the gaggle of other suppliers in your space. Being prepared to stand up and be counted in recognising your customers’ issues and their market drivers and highlighting that you can do something to help, will elevate you to market leader status not based on size, but based on reputation.

Once your prospect is convinced that you are the thought leader in the market, or indeed the up and coming market maker, then you can revert to convincing the prospect of your pedigree, experience, and heritage. But the overriding clear message needs to resonate at all times as demonstrating that you truly understand your client’s market and its drivers and have something that will help make a positive difference to their performance in that market.

So, yes there remains a place for talking of your successes – of proof points with customer stories and case studies – but this should be the undertone, not the main thrust of your messaging machine. A well prepared and executed campaign of thought leadership – relentless thought leadership – will attract the attention of the commentators in your industry also; the journalists and analysts whose job it is to talk to the market about the market. Give these valuable contacts the material they need, making it easy for them by giving it to them in a timely and consumable manner, and you’ll steal the lion’s share of their coverage, getting even more people pointing at you as the perceived market leader. Not because you are biggest – but because you demonstrate you truly understand the market.
Actually, it’s you, not me.