In a consumer product world, solutions marketing is exemplified by the endless variations of pain relievers.
Before Tylenol, Advil, Motrin or Excedrin, the world somehow got by on aspirin for general aches and pains. But marketers never rest in looking for new solutions to gain competitive advantage, hence, the myriad of pain relievers available today for every discomfort imaginable like cold, flu, sinus, arthritis and a slew of other ailments.
The difference between aspirin and other pain relievers is analogous to what many B2B solution providers do. Each brand of pain reliever uses a common ingredient (a platform) plus a sprinkling of additional ingredients for specific ailments (features for specific market segments in B2B).
Much like pain relievers, most B2B products and services use a common platform and then emphasize specific features that constitute solutions to very specific problems. The Playbook for B2B…
Solutions Marketing: What It Is and Isn’t!
The worst definition of solutions marketing is “the bundle,” selling multiple products together at a lower price than they cost individually. Bundling is nothing more than a pricing strategy, period! Solutions marketing it isn’t!
Solutions marketing is the concept of positioning your products/services to a specific customer outcome and then articulating the most common obstacles preventing customers from achieving that outcome.
It might only be a single product. There’s no rule of thumb on the number of products. The most important thing to remember when it comes to solutions and customer outcomes is that you have to focus on outcomes that can be both measured, and have strategic impact to the customer organization.
For example, retailers want online shoppers to spend more time in the online store and make more impulse purchases, the outcome. There are a host of obstacles facing retailers in achieving this outcome.
The bottom line here is the outcome is one that has strategic value, and it can be measured. Any product, service or combination thereof that removes the biggest obstacles to this outcome has high value to retailers.
Why Make the Transformation?
- For starters, solutions drive the average sale higher because the value can be quantified and therefore command a higher price. Who doesn’t want more revenue?
- Throw in competitive advantage. History has proven that companies offering solutions have far greater market appeal than those just selling best of breed products because the strategic impact is measurably higher.
- And finally, the value/stickiness factor. Solutions reach a broader base of users within each customer account which eliminates more silos and creates a stronger dependency on your solutions across the organization.
Three Steps to Make it Happen
- Determine the best way to segment your target customers. It’s usually a good idea to refer to them as they refer to themselves to keep the relevance factor high, i.e., pharmaceutical, retail, small business, etc. Begin with the segments where your portfolio is most successful today.
- Formalize the product marketing function (not to be confused with product management) and organize it according to your chosen industry segments. Assign solutions marketing managers by market segment instead of the traditional product centric alignment.
- Develop value propositions around common customer goals, priorities and obstacles in each segment and deliver those value propositions in various communications targeted to each specific audience.
The essence of solutions marketing is to leverage your marketing horsepower in the segments where you can succeed the fastest. It shouldn’t prohibit you from selling into other segments if the product is a good fit. It just means you’re going to dedicate resources to your most lucrative segments.
Focus (saying no) is the biggest challenge in every company. Those who make a habit of it become market leaders.
Contact Proficientz about a personalized workshop to learn how to transform your product marketing team to a solutions marketing model so you can grow revenue, deliver greater value and gain a stronger competitive advantage, enroll in Product Management University On-Demand and learn at your convenience.