Increasing amounts of direct online competition is the single factor that is propelling B2B marketing to innovate, create lateral economic solutions, and revise corporate strategies.

As I discussed in a previous article on B2B Marketing in 2006, B2B marketing in 2006 means that for us, success is as much about finding the right person as it is about being found by the right person. It isn't as easy as it used to be, competitors are adopting new solutions for targeting prospects, while the available online real estate (the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) of the search engines) is becoming overcrowded. At the same time, prospects are becoming more search savvy, choosing to redefine queries rather than search subsequent pages. What does this mean? It means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to be found by the right person, especially seeing as Google has replaced book cases of catalogues and rolodexes of business cards. Online competition means that B2B marketers need to position their companies in the best search engine, the best ranking, for the best query.

It's really still a game of location, location, location.

Wouldn't Business be Easier if There Weren't any Competition?

Now I've always been a firm believer that competition is not necessarily a bad thing, after all it does keep the playing field level in favor of the actual customer. In addition, having competition in the B2B marketplace, or in any industry for that matter, is a good indication that the industry is growing and that there is demand for your products or solutions.

In recent years, the Internet has made it very easy for an increasing amount of online competition to creep up. Globalization and the large broadband adoption across the world has taken what was once a very static marketplace and opened the door to a new kind of dynamics. Simply check the rankings in the search engines and take note of the websites that are ranking in the top ten organic results for some of your key phrases... monitor this over a period of four to six weeks and observe the number of different sites that pop in and out of the top ten. Compare this with the various engines and you will get an even different list of competitor sites. The point is, as B2B marketers, you need to get used to dealing with an increasing amount of online competition, and not being able to always identify or pigeonhole the competitive landscape. The question then becomes how do you deal with this increasing amount of online competition and how can you get a leg up on your web competitors?

Do it Better

The first thing that you need to do is build a stable online presence for your business. Just because you have a website and are ranking well for a few key phrases does not necessarily mean that you have a strong online presence. You need to ensure that your site speaks to your target market, that your unique online competitive advantage has been established and that you effectively communicate your brand and unique market position through your site. In turn, creating a strong online presence can help with the development of brand recognition. Part of securing an online presence also means that your site is doing well in the search engines and is receiving the necessary traffic to be considered an industry leader within you vertical.

B2B marketing often involves a more complex selling process; as a result, staying ahead of your online competition is key to maintaining any type of advantage. Conversely, the buying funnel for your prospect may also demand extensive research on their part. Our research has shown that 93.4% of the respondents we talked to indicated that they would use the Internet to research a business to business purchase decision. When the prospect conducts their research and arrives at your site, you must be aware that they are also looking at some of your competitor's sites. Therefore, you need to identify and observe your online competition. Be aware of the online presence that your competitors have. Learn from your competition. Observe the online strategies that your competitors use. Discover what they are doing right and adopt these practices, realize where they may be missing the mark and ensure that your site does not do the same. To be a leader in your industry you need to be confident in the solutions that you provide. Compare your solutions to those of your competitors and let your site visitors see the benefit of using your solution versus that of your competitors. It is important to be respectful of your competitors but it is even more important to emphasize your unique online competitive advantage over them.

Don't just keep up with the Jones', keep ahead of the Jones'

In order to remain on top of the competition in the B2B world, you need to ensure that your site provides all of the information necessary to influence visitors (and potential prospects) on your site. You don't want to miss a lead generation opportunity by not having the clear, concise, critical data that your prospect may be looking for. A recent Omniture report stated "... 89% of business users and I.T. professionals state that online content has a moderate to major impact on their vendor performance and selection." Recognize the fact that your prospects may require different information or action depending on what stage of the buying funnel they are in. Providing content that your prospect is looking for will prevent your prospects from seeking the same information from your competitors.

Another option for B2B marketers to use to stay ahead of their competition is through customer service support. It is vital to understand and appreciate the value of your customer/prospect. Strengthening your customer support and building a post-transaction relationship with your customer is a key approach in positioning your business ahead of your competition. It helps differentiate your organization and also helps establish lifetime value with your clientele.

Utilize B2B market research to obtain an edge over your competition. B2B market research can allow your company to make smarter business decisions by gaining insight and intelligence into the needs, wants and composition of both your competition and your target market. The end results being that you will be able to design and implement more successful B2B marketing solutions and take advantage of missed opportunities suffered by your competitors.

To stay ahead of your competition means that you have ensured that your organization has clearly defined KPIs in place. From the CEO down to the Director of Marketing and even to support staff, having clearly defined key performance indicators can help keep everyone on the same page and focused towards an end goal.

The online world has made it easier for businesses to compete. As a result, competition has increased. B2B online marketing in 2006 means dealing with an increasing amount of competition. To be successful as B2B marketers, establishing an online competitive advantage over your competition is not something you should do, it is something that you must do.

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November 7, 2006

Search Marketing Strategist. Search Engine Positioning by Searchengineposition. Enquiro Full Service Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Guide > Jody Nimetz > B2B Online Marketing Dealing with Increasing Amounts of Competition