By Ed Pierce, Principal, ITA Fleet Communications
More and more fleet providers seem to face a ‘David versus Goliath’ situation when it comes to competing for the hearts and minds of fleet decision-makers.
The fleet news headlines shout that the big are getting bigger and even threatening to swallow more. The other big fleet kahunas are looking to catch the wave of unhappy fleets who feel like Jonah in the whale.
With all this happening, the smaller, vertically-specific service providers seemingly don’t stand a chance. But, among the fleet service providers I serve, being the underdog is an advantage. They are confident competitors with focused expertise that ensures the best value for their customers. So, they are more than happy to be underestimated. Especially from a marketing perspective, digital technologies are leveling the playing field, too.
Here are some ideas smaller companies can take to compete effectively with the big boys with their big marketing spends:
1. Prioritization. While it may not be possible to spend as much or as broadly as the larger brands, it is possible to be more effective. Companies need to identify those areas that are most critical for concentrated marketing outlay based on for their brand, their products, and their target audiences,
“Prioritization” supersedes budget. Uncovering the true value of each opportunity is hard work. Ultimately, however, it is critical to success for companies with smaller budgets where errors are more harmful.
2. Adaptability. Once upon a time, a static annual marketing plan was de rigueur and driven by the corporate budget process. Marketing execution seldom strayed from the plan because the media, the competition, and markets changed at the same, relative slow pace. Today? Adaptability is paramount to gaining a competitive edge, crucial for optimizing the marketing spend and focusing tactics that bring the most value. However, adaptability demands a constant feedback system to monitor market changes and real-time campaign-specific performance.
3. Specialization. While hiring or contracting with the best talent is always a corporate best practice, the complexities of marketing demand a more specialized approach. While a marketing manager may fulfill the translation role for corporate, explaining how marketing supports support goals, he or she needs tactical expertise that is up-to-speed with web, digital, content, and traditional alternatives. Hiring an ad agency on a set retainer fee to do it all has given way to contracted, project-based resources.
With years of B2B sales and marketing success, Ed has served fleet product and service providers with strategic plan-related market research and integrated sales & marketing programs. Results include significantly increased market penetration, improved awareness and positioning, and B2B sales support leading to sales goal achievement. Today, Ed leads ITA Fleet Communications – a fleet-focused consulting firm helping product and service providers achieve excellent results through innovative and effective integrated sales and marketing.