Have you ever been cornered by your CEO regarding a certain question? “We need better competitive messaging — our competitors are outmarketing us!” Or maybe you heard from a sales rep asking, “One of my top accounts is asking questions about [competitor XYZ] — how do I respond?” Before we get stuck pulling out the latest feature comparison (which only highlights the new stuff we just launched), we need to think about our buyers and what they care about. Portfolio marketers developing impactful competitive messaging must consider three things.

Buyers Care About Competitive Messaging

Forrester’s Q2 2023 Content Preference Survey found that over half of technology buying decision-makers agree that the content they receive from vendors fails to show competitive differentiation. Our buyers are clamoring for this insight. They want to know why they should engage with you and your product. They need to understand what makes you different. But they need this on their terms. Buyers are trying to solve a business problem and are thinking about questions they need to ask in the buying process. We need to make sure that our messaging answers those questions, but it needs to do so in a way that helps our buyers see what’s different about us versus our competitor.

Buyer Needs Drive Competitive Messaging

To build truly impactful competitive messaging, we need to define our differentiators in terms of buyers and their needs. Those needs are about what they must address that will deliver business value. They are not a need for your product. What problem are they solving, and how does the differentiator better help them address that problem? The laundry lists of “speeds and feeds” messaging that many marketers create doesn’t get to the heart of the problem the buyer is solving. It only serves to puff up our own chests without helping our buyers move through a buying process and buy from us.

Sellers Must Agree On Differentiators

Sales is a key user of competitive messaging, as they interact directly with buyers and often must answer direct questions about the competition. If they’re not bought in on the differentiators, they won’t use what we create. We must validate our competitive messages with those who will apply it to make sure that they’re understood and clear. We also need to highlight the buyer needs that competitive messaging is addressing so that our sellers understand why they’re delivering a message and give them confidence that it’s going to help them move that buyer forward in the buying process.

Don’t be caught on your back foot — get ahead of your competitive messaging efforts! Buyers want and need the insight you’re providing, so work now to identify the most important buyer needs and questions, develop the differentiators that address those needs and questions, and engage your stakeholders now to make sure they’re prepared with the right messaging to have impact.

Clients of the Forrester Decisions for Portfolio Marketing service should read our newest report on building competitive messaging, Buyers Demand Impactful Competitive Messaging, and schedule an inquiry to get more insight into identifying buyer needs, building differentiators, and crafting your competitive message.