I’ve been doing B2B market dominance strategy and execution for (gulp) 25 years now, and I’ve seen a pattern in the types of companies that are good candidates for market dominance and those that will never get there without an “attitude adjustment.” Ditto for the executive leadership. I’ve found that the best candidates for market dominance share certain characteristics. Take a little look in the mirror to see where you stand.
Best Candidate Companies for Market Dominance
Seeking high growth
Intent on creating dominant market position
Fighting increased competition and shrinking margins and/or are intent on achieving higher margins
Provide services in rapidly-changing environments (industry, technical, business)
Results-oriented, action-oriented, have a sense of urgency
Have smart people, a “team” culture, quality orientation
Best Candidate Individuals for Leading a Company to Market Dominance
Accountable for strategic results
Responsible for growing the business
Identification and penetration of markets
Focused on the Future
Long-term client value
Getting from “where we are” to “where we want to be”
Results-oriented, action-oriented, have a sense of urgency
Think through whether your company and executive leadership seem to possess these characteristics. If so, you are great candidates for pursuing market dominance. If not, you have work to do.
Much of what I espouse about strategic marketing, market dominance and differentiation applies to many types of B2B companies, but the sector I’ve studied most closely and with which I’ve had the most direct experience is the business solutions ecosystem selling to large and medium-sized enterprises. In information technology sectors alone, this is more than a $3 trillion ecosystem employing over 20 million people worldwide (sources: Gartner, Software Magazine, IDC – probably a conservative estimate that excludes many emerging companies and subsectors). It includes:
Computing and telecommunications hardware and equipment providers
Telecommunications service providers selling to businesses
Business solution providers
Management consulting firms
Business process outsourcing providers (e.g., payroll processing, accounts receivable)
What they have in common is that they sell intangibles. Customers can’t see, touch or experience these companies’ offerings. Customers have to buy on faith. They can only evaluate whether they got what they wanted and whether it was worth the price after they’ve bought and implemented the offering. Customers are evaluating promises and reputations during the buying process as opposed to evaluating tangible products.
There is another $1 trillion+ market with a similar issue. It includes:
Advertising, public relations, marketing and market research firms
Non-technology professional services firms, such as law, architecture, construction, engineering, and other types of management consulting
Other business services
In addition, there is an emerging population of companies in cleantech/energy and life sciences that sell business-to-business services and solutions, as opposed to straight products.
Every company in existence needs to differentiate itself in the face of competition, but the invisible nature of services and solutions makes differentiation exceptionally challenging. The good news is that there is a relatively straightforward way to clearly differentiate one’s offerings in a crowded services market – I’ll be covering that soon. However, first it’s useful to understand what “differentiation” really means for a services company: Be truly unique. Don’t just take my word for it. See what leading management gurus have to say.
Voting it the winner by a wide margin, my clients and colleagues favored Confessions of a Market Dominatrix as the title of this blog and my upcoming book. It was very tempting. But I ultimately decided against it, even though it does aptly describe my obsession as a marketer and process of discovery in answering a vexing question: In the business-to-business sector, why is it that certain companies become influential rock stars of their markets, making piles of money and huge margins as the sought-after standouts, while others become commodities that scrape by for every dime and barely hang on for dear life? How do the winners do it?
Through numerous insider stories and examples, this blog (and ultimately the book) will reveal the secrets of dominating business markets for exceptional margins and growth. It is aimed at executives whose companies primarily sell business expertise in the form of services, products and solutions. This market exceeds $4 trillion in annual revenues and spans industries from information technology and professional services to telecommunications and advertising.
The biggest problem companies in this market face is the inability to clearly differentiate their offerings, which leads to commoditization and price-based competition. This eventually puts them out of business.
I firmly believe that every company, particularly those that sell services, should aim to become the Go-To in a market full of me-too competitors. Be the go-to provider. Own your market. Be the first name that comes to mind for a particular market problem. It will allow you to rise above the fray, charge premium prices, and achieve sustainable growth.
Drawing from 24 years of research, practical experience and wild (though not always pleasant) adventures, this blog will help you move your company toward go-to status. It will lay out an approach I developed over 10 years ago called the Apollo Method for Market Dominance(TM), which uses the Apollo space program as a metaphor (more on that down the road). The strategy is counterintuitive: target fewer markets with fewer offerings to stand out as the premium-priced market leader among a pack of commoditized me-too competitors. You’ll learn more about this. You’ll also learn how to implement the strategy. Strap on your seatbelts for what I hope will be an entertaining journey through the four-part method: 1) take ownership of a specific business problem and develop a solution; 2) lead a movement in the market around the problem and solution; 3) guide clients on this problem-solving voyage to deliver on the promises; and 4) stay ahead of changes in the market.
You’ll come away from this blog (and eventually, the book) with insights on how to do the following:
Differentiate offerings in a way that competitors can’t easily copy
Ensure strong revenues and profits, even during market downturns
Stand out and get attention in a crowded market
Define and deliver products and services that business customers clamor for
Build a reputation that will compel customers to seek you out
Get radically better results from sales and marketing efforts