Positioning and Messaging Strategy in B2B.

B2B is famous for sticking doggedly to established positioning messages hewn from the rock of intransigence in the land that time forgot.

But that’s no longer  acceptable positioning. And it’s no longer an excuse.

Business to business companies may not have changed their Positioning and Messaging Strategy in B2B, but the audience has. The connected audience now demands considerably more from a business relationship than repetition of the corporate mantra. The variety of media the audience selects, the diversity of communities they interact with, the global marketplace they access, the locations and devices they interact from and with… they all demand attention that can no longer be satisfied by a single corporate dictate. Brands need a personality these days.

It’s our changing personalities that keep us interesting. As we grow, develop, learn and exchange information with others, we expect to see change and to be changed. And yet business brands expect to remain constant and change little. The corporate message is the corporate message and the corporate message can’t be changed because, well, because it’s corporate. And the message.

When I’m asked to facilitate positioning and messaging workshops, the constant refrain is, “Yeah, we’ve thought about that, but haven’t changed it because it’s not on-brand.”

I have to point out the significant and important difference between brand strategy and positioning strategy. I’m going to point it out again now in the hope that we can all make progress and that my naturally cheerful disposition will not be reduced to name calling, finger pointing and the use of phrases prefixed with, ‘Oh for fuck’s sake,’ and suffixed with, ‘asshole,’ at my next positioning workshop.

Brand strategy is as much about articulating corporate personality and beliefs as it is about business marketing communications. Brand strategy helps companies understand how they should ‘behave’ in the wider marketplace.

It helps to shape the perceptions that others have of our brand. We establish a set of values that guide corporate behavior. Those values change rarely. Much like the values instilled in us as children by our parents, they stay with us. They remain the ‘constant’ when everything around us changes.

But that’s not ‘positioning’. The positioning strategy is much more about the change. The markets change, the competition changes, the products and services change, the people change, the audience changes and the channels and tools for audience engagement change.

So you need to adjust your corporate position to adapt to market changes and you need to do it often. The core driver of communications shouldn’t be the corporate mantra, it should be the audience.

Ask me to help you with your brand strategy and I’ll help you once, enough to last a lifetime. Ask me to help you with your positioning strategy and I’ll be kicking your ass on a more regular basis. I know, it’s a tough choice, but we establish principles in life just once. The messages we use to communicate those principles change all the time. At Twisk we teach you the difference.


Scot McKee