Anyone who’s ever dreamed of making a business bigger than what it currently is shouldn’t underestimate the scale. It’s like growing your own mean, little alien. Eventually, it’ll have to start growing more parts than what it’s currently got.

That can be a bit painful and that pain doubles if you can’t get your B2B marketing campaign to adapt. As much specialization helps highlight the uniqueness of your product, the reality is that larger competitors might beat you just from being able to grow faster and bigger.

Let’s start with a consumer example. Just this year, gaming company Blizzard Entertainment has recently released Hearthstone, an online trading card offshoot of its Warcraft games (particularly, World of Warcraft). Despite initial praise and positive reviews, it’s going head-to-head with none other than Wizards of the Coast, the company which brought the world Magic: The Gathering. Now Wizards is releasing its own contender, a digital version of its game that’s fuller than previous digital incarnations. A review by Julian Benson of PCGamesN sums up this little brawl inside the TCG industry:

“But Magic is the seed of the genre. It is the original. And Wizards of the Coast have no intention of stepping aside for these young upstarts.”

This kind of competition is not uncommon in the B2B world. Furthermore, the stakes are higher. The very playing field of B2B marketing has providers scrambling to include services beyond their original platforms. For another example, David Raab notes that email providers are all striving to grow into bigger marketing suites. This is obviously to suit the increasing need for multi-channels strategies and real-time focus on influencing prospect’s buying decisions at every step of the process:

Indeed, this strategy has succeeded for many vendors: ExactTarget, Responsys, Silverpop, and Neolane all grew from mostly-email to broader systems that were purchased by larger vendors as the foundation of an all-compassing marketing suite. Other email providers have remained independent but still expanded their scope to remain competitive and grow.”

It’s fine to keep honing on your company’s specializations but as you try to set your sights higher, know that the demands will be higher as well. You saw what the two examples had in common right?

  • Growth is the nature of the beast – As Raab noted, even independent email providers have expanded their services. To do so otherwise would mean to lose to other competitors who see multi-channel as the next step both inside and outside the industry. This is the kind of world your B2B marketers have to adapt to and it’s something that needs to be done constantly and consistently.
  • Veteran competition – Blizzard is actually a big company already and it’s trying to ‘invade’ the TCG industry with Hearthstone via its own large brand. Obviously an industry giant like WotC isn’t just going to sit by and take that. Growing beyond your specialization will require you to face the same competition because growth will eventually mean invasion of some of their space.
  • It’s time intensive – Being too late to pick up on a trend can mean being too late to pick up on a loss to your competitors. You can’t expect your B2B organization to stay afloat for so long without venturing into anything new, whether it’s a new marketing strategy or targeting a new industry. You will find competition on all fronts so it’s either they’ll eventually steal away your customers or you end up stealing theirs. And even ideally, making sure they don’t veer towards one or the other keeps both of you from losing out on their money.

The bigger you are, the harder you’ll brawl. It’s that simple. And while you might very well say this involves more than marketing, it’s only through marketing that everyone else learns about what needs to change. You see first before they can adapt and in turn, you have to be early in adapting to the incoming growth pains.

 

KSSF