I spent today with a young woman who is building a new Service business from scratch. It is a unique idea and while she has already successfully built the first platform for the business, she has, like all passionate and extraordinary entrepreneurs, phase two evolving for launch.
She was looking for advice about how to best hit the market hardest and fastest and get a “step up” ahead of the reliable list of competitors who will be quick in their attempts to follow.
The ensuing discussion outlined a few pointers that are worth sharing especially for those working with a service brand or business. The first part means thinking about your business from their point of view.
2. Match this criteria list to a well-thought out list of potential customers. Consider:
3. Consider age-defining characteristics as well as specific user traits and behaviours for your customers.
4. Remember to ensure you can actually deliver against any expectations these customers will have.
5. Use the best resources at your disposal to quickly blanket these customers and “sell” them on your business, illustrating to them how it meets their objectives.
6. You may need a specialized sales resource or a team of trained professionals but TRAINING is key. Knowing your service is obvious but knowing and understanding the customers’ markets and needs is crucial and this is what will set your brand apart. The relationship has to built on trust and understanding, this is key so make this step really count.
Like all good consumer marketing strategies, it comes back, yet again to the customer and defining your business through their eyes first!
If you have done all the thinking up front, and used relevant and compelling criteria to define the ‘best fit’ customers, you have the first step. When you then approach these customers with knowledge and expertise and empathy you will most likely be able to elicit their commitment to your business ahead of the pack.
Read this Jack Trout excerpt from “Differentiate or Die” and consider:
1. Do you have a truly unique differentation stance/message for your brand or business?
2. What is you key competitor’s differentiating stance?
3. Have you had to sacrifice some element that you had previously felt you HAD to HAVE? Can you see something now that might inhibit your brand or business growth in next phase of development of your concept?
Marketing guru Jack Trout delivers a practical guide for businesses on developing powerful differentiation strategies. Differentiate or Die builds upon a very simple premise: To survive, or at least out-perform, one’s competitors in this era of killer competition, a company must out-differentiate that competition. DIFFERENTIATE OR DIE outlines the many ways the marketer can achieve differentiation. It also warns how difficult it is to achieve differentiation by being creative, cheap, customer oriented, quality driven – things that the competitors can do as well.
Differentiate or die is not only an anthology of marketing sensation stories, but also takes to a profound travel around today’s most winning differentiation strategies. It enlightens with various smart strategies, the situation where and when they should be practically applied, and how they can help the marketer to become an icon in a swarming market place. Marketing managers in all types of organizations, regardless of size, can learn how to achieve product differentiation through various strategies.
A Plethora of Choice:
The author discusses the collection of choices available to the customers and the consequences of that. There are more and more choices for every consumer to make. Customers have lot many choices and they need the help of a marketer to understand why to choose his brand over others offering similar services.
CHOICE leads into Differentiation:
The author confers about intensification in choice that coerced the need for the organization to be different than others. The process of differentiating is the process of making the appearance of the product to a market different than that of competitor down the street.
It is specified in the book that differentiation can be a better tool to be used in managing the competition.
Unique Selling Proposition:
Jack Trout in his book called Differentiate or Die makes an extraordinarily strong case for devoting the time, effort, and creativity to formulating your organization’s unique selling proposition. If it is done well the marketer can sell easily. Do this poorly and you will have to sell very hard. He says it is critical for every business to have a unique selling proposition, or USP.
Jack Trout speaks about the magnitude of Being Different, Differentiating with “Intuitive, Thinkers, Feelers, and Sensors”. He also proposes that the marketer can Differentiate Anything.
Their successful strategies proposed by Jack Trout can be summed up in five ways:
3. Create a new Generic
4. Change the name
5. Reposition the category
At last he declares,
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way to differentiate”.
In the next discussion he proposes that there is a need to reinvent the USP. Earlier the way to differentiate was usually based on a tangible difference between products. Me-tooism became the dominant force in competition. So in the recent scenario companies need to show benefit beyond product.
What Does Not Work:
The next several chapters debate about various approaches to differentiating a product or service or company. Primarily he unveils the awful news that product quality, advertising creativity, price advantage, and breadth of product line are seldom-successful ways to differentiate your business. Trout and Rivkin explain why quality, customer orientation and creativity aren’t usually effective.
Consumers expect the best quality, he says; but they don’t feel it’s a windfall (bonus). Most grippingly, both quality and customer orientation are hardly ever differentiating ideas.
Relying on creativity:
The second thing that should not be done: He remarks that feathery creativity will not work.He recommends that the primary concept that can be seldom used for differentiation is Price.
Further more he feels that broad line of products or services cannot be paid attention to differentiate. Doing it all. Trying to be all things to all people (“our firm offers a wide range of products”) is the worst way to be unique. Not only do the marketer overwhelm prospects with choices, the marketer makes it easy for his competitors to offer the same.
In his ominously titled book Differentiate or Die, Marketing Guru Jack Trout and co-author Steve Rivkin spell out a cut-to-the-quick 4-step process for differentiating a company from its competition.
1. Make sense in the context of the market as it exists,
2. Find the differentiating idea
3. Have the credentials.
4. Communicate your difference.
In the next phase he gives the synopsis of how mind works and what are the key principles of Positioning (means how the differentiates his product in the mind of the prospect).
What works well?
Trout and Rivkin now list differentiating ideas that DO work effectively, and give a number of helpful examples of each:
(1) Being first or number one.
(2) Owning a particular attribute or product quality in the consumer’s mind.
(3) Demonstrating product leadership.
(4) Drawing upon an impressive company history or heritage.
(5) Focusing on a particular market specialty.
(6) Showing that your product is the preference of influential persons or groups.
(7) Focusing on a product’s unique ingredients.
( Being the “new generation” of products, or
(9) Being popular or “hot.”
The authors demonstrate how company growth can destroy its differences unless company leaders are careful. The final part of the book focuses on how growth can dilute differentiation so that what once was a unique selling proposition has lost its power because it is diluted with new products, services and programs.
Trout points out that in order to differentiate, you are frequently required to sacrifice. Thus, an organization that is doing marginally well in one area and now, in order to improve business, expands into a new type of product or service, and in a few years has three or four or five distinct products or services, each offered in a somewhat different market, has so blurred and diluted its unique selling proposition that it can do well in none of the markets.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF SACRIFICES like Product sacrifice,
Attribute sacrifice, and Target market sacrifice is discussed.
Jack portrays how a product is differentiated or branded in one country may need to be substantially different to succeed in another culture.
He also suggests that the difference has to be maintained well and he discusses why CEOs fail and who is in charge of differentiation.
Differentiate or Disappear:
While concluding the author says it is to remember that every business, whether it’s a for-profit corporation or a non-profit, has to be dealt with customers. The failure to be unique will let the product disappear.
The ‘one size fits all’ method doesn’t work when it comes to connecting with small business owners.
Many of us within the ABN need to attract and engage with other small businesses and their owners. Marketing to such a unique audience requires some diverse thinking and a reduction in the grandeur of the usual marketing formats we discuss, especially for those of us who herald from bigger corporations and brands.
Small business owners are busy. They wear many hats and are often generalists in many areas.
Areas on which to focus that help small business owners notice you have to do with:
1) How your service helps the business owner stand out, in other words promotion?- do you have a means by which they can grow their customer base and their profits?
2) How your service helps the business owner find new customers – what do you offer that adds value to them and provides a resource or skill they don’t have internally?
Understanding that a large percentage of small businesses with less than five employees don’t have a website, you have to think about how to best reach these business owners as well. While they may not have a website, they do subscribe to industry trade journals, meet with peers and use online services to stay competitive. Even though they might not be on the bleeding edge of technology adoption, as they are busy running their company, small businesses definitely look to find new ways of reaching customers.
Introducing your products and services through targeted ad placement is one approach for connecting with this group, another is providing useful information that helps a small business owner stay competitive. Become a champion of this group – provide resources and participate in the conversation where small business owners are.
So what can you quickly do to connect to the SME audience? Here are a few sites where small businesses are actively present:
This week in Marketing Magazine they stated that “marketing the services industry is akin to a budding romance”. I loved this analogy and it really got me thinking about a lot of us in our own businesses and the challenges of generating interest in what we market. It IS less flamboyant and visually creative than other industries with fancy products and lots of visible bells and whistles to flog. It’s not easy to be cheeky ala beer ads, or sexy ala chocolates, or even enticing ala cars, but yet there are many great attributes we can talk about, albeit the tone may have to be different for most of our services. It’s about finding the appropriate hand holding techniques and forging a sustainable bond that can be built ever stronger in time. Our ongoing customer relationships may take some time. We may have to ‘romance’ our potential customers and keep the “passion” going with existing customers. It isn’t just the shipping of a box or the taking home of the package. It’s about a lengthy relationship and collaborative engagement, much more than a one-night stand.
Service marketing is a journey. Every interaction has to be considered as a key contributor to the ongoing partnership. It’s very one-on-one in its nature. The key factors are nurturing, retention and ultimately mutual growth. You have to fight the good fight, there’s still massive competition, but once the bond is forged the rewards should be bigger and more satisfying, and loyalty more assured than can be assumed in consumer goods marketing nowadays.
The need to evolve, devise and develop new offers is still there though; you can’t sit back and assume they will remain faithful if you fail to keep up with contemporary needs and marketplace changes driven by your customer’s needs. This principle is the same whatever you are marketing.
The process from piquing a buyer’s interest through to engagement and the ultimate buying decision is a major challenge because you may have a lot of complex information to impart.
Prioritise the most important messages, tailor the way in which you say them, and then place them where your buyer’s will come across them and have the time to determine their relevance to their needs.
If you follow the idea of building this budding romance and using the most compelling and relevant hooks, you will find like-minded partners who want to share a “lifetime” with you!
Until next time,
Having watched the film “The September Issue” last week I got to thinking about how really powerful brands can influence consumers, trends, and thinking.
I started reflecting on the concept of building brands of influence and considering whether they share characteristics from which we can learn as we build our own brands.
In the film, the power of Vogue Magazine to sway a nation’s fashion footsteps and to build or break designers and retailers seems immense. The impact it has is palpable. How others are affected and how they follow a leader of this type is also noteworthy.
As my daughter and I were debating the fact that very few people can actually afford to buy Gaultier or Versace, she shrewdly pointed out “that that doesn’t matter”,that these trends are picked up and copied appropriately across mags as low-brow as Dolly and Girlfriend, even for teen fashion.
So how do we learn from this? It appears that there are several characteristics to aspire to, and some which can be mimicked:
1. Be bold and confident : lead your consumers on a journey that creates a desire from them to be with you.
Futurists predict that successful brands will evolve to have cultural and social impacts that determine their stronghold in an over crowded consumer world. People are said to be suffering “infobesity” from the bombardment of messages . New, pertinent on-trend responses are required.
2. Provide inspiration and aspiration : strive to become sought after by providing your customers each and every time with something that exceeds their expectations.
3. Cherish your brand : don’t sway to the temptation of changing and morphing, even if a competitor makes you nervous. Find ways to define your own brand’s landscape and remain true to that.
4. Know where you are going and what you stand for (as a brand). Create that dream for your business, through your brand, and then plan to hit it.
5. Surround yourself with Implementation Expertise-messages, resources, appropriate networks-and utilize their expertise. Vogue’ vision, or dream, has never wavered and those at the helm have communicate it for the organization to congregate behind, and believe in.
6. The Brand is the Business: To be influential, think bigger than the product or service you’re offering. Your brand is not just your product. Vogue is more than a magazine. It’s an icon of Fashion and Trend-setting.
One common question I get asked is “what’s the best way to develop a name for my brand”?
If you follow the classic routes then several options are available:
Types of brand names
Acronym: A name made of initials such as UPS or IBM
Descriptive: Names that describe a product benefit or function like Whole Foods or Airbus
Alliteration and rhyme: Names that are fun to say and stick in the mind like Reese’s Pieces or Dunkin’ Donuts
Evocative: Names that evoke a relevant vivid image like Amazon or Crest
Neologisms: Completely made-up words like Wii or Kodak
Foreign word: Adoption of a word from another language like Volvo or Samsung
Founders’ names: Using the names of real people like Hewlett-Packard or Disney
Geography: Many brands are named for regions and landmarks like Gulf Air and Fuji Film
Personification: Many brands take their names from myth like Nike or from the minds of ad executives
Perhaps some of these ideas will spurn your next brand discussion.
Of course these are only relevant if inventing a brand from scratch, or innovating into a truly new area.
However if you have an existing brand or business ‘mark’, and are planning to expand into new products or services then you have to consider the relevance of using your existing brand. In this case available options include considering the use of a New Brand, a Brand Extension or a Sub-Brand.
A new brand is a self-evident concept and should be considered when the existing brand cannot possibly work on your new products. This would be the case if (a) new product is in an entirely different market space; (b) new product is in the same market space but being differentiated on pricing or other service components and you want to avoid a direct comparison; (c) you do not want end customers to know the product is from the same supplier/manufacturer as the existing brand.
Brand Extension works if your current brand can easily stretch into the new category or market space that you are planning to enter. You just have to ensure there is no confusion with existing products and both the new and existing products add value to each other by utilising the same name.
Finally for a sub-brand, you are using the “mother” brand name that is in existence and giving it an extra “child”. Famous brands such as Continental, Virgin and Masterfoods do this all the time because the mother brand (or masterbrand) has existing category creds that work to deposit positive associations onto the new lines that they introduce.
Whichever way you go, think about it carefully, ask your customers and consider the implications of every option. Great brand decisions will stick!
Hi, I’m Cheryl Hayman and I am the MD of Hayman Strategy. I have spent the past 26 years enjoying a career as a Senior Marketing executive, in multinational consumer goods companies, and more recently consulting to them on strategic marketing and branding in my own consultancy. I also provide mentoring and training.
Marketing is all about determining the needs of consumers/customers and matching those needs with products and services a company can deliver for the right perceived value. Branding is the key marketing asset for any company and as such a brand needs to be carefully crafted and created to embody the customer promise and meet, or ideally exceed, expectations at every engagement with its user.
So for those considering a career as a Marketing Executive, here are the Top 5 pieces of career advice I can give you;
1. Be prepared to work hard and understand the objectives in your role, and the need to hit those for progression and success. Be patient and get the job done. Marketing people have to be results driven. Expect to be measured against achievement of the businesses goals as well as the marketing strategies (including budget management).
2. Try to work for great leaders/managers from whom you can draw many in-field skills: the interpersonal and the technical skills. Find yourself a mentor and utilize their advice and guidance as you need it. Reflect some executive maturity in your dealings with people at all times.
3. Listen, analyse, listen again and harness this learning into your personal skillset. There is a constant need to listen to your consumers but it doesn’t stop there. There is always valuable insight within an organization both from more experienced managers in the office and out in the field. (eg sales people, plant managers etc)
4. A Marketing person has to be like Octopus. You have to draw upon the expertise of many, cobble it together, ensure it works for your consumer, and finesse it accordingly along the way. Being able to juggle many balls, and get the best out of a diverse group of individuals requires major co-ordination and relationship capabilities.
5. Action-oriented: You must be focused on the achievement of results. Marketing is a fast-paced and contemporary industry so those who succeed have the ability to act swiftly to meet trends in competitive marketplaces. The best marketing executives find solutions at every turn, rather than presenting problems.
Follow these pearls of wisdom and you won’t go far wrong. Good luck with your career development and if you need further information go to www.embarkcareers.com
I am often asked for some simple, basic rationale for using market segmentation. Why is it useful, what will I gain, what types of segmentation are there?
Market segmentation offers the following potential benefits to a business:
Better matching of customer needs:
Customer needs differ. Creating separate products for each segment makes sense
Enhanced profits for business:
Customers have different disposable incomes and vary in how sensitive they are to price. By segmenting markets, businesses can raise average prices and subsequently enhance profits
Better opportunities for growth:
Market segmentation can build sales. For example, customers can be encouraged to “trade-up” after being sold an introductory, lower-priced product
Retain more customers:
By marketing products that appeal to customers at different stages of their life (“life-cycle”), a business can retain customers who might otherwise switch to competing products and brands.
Target marketing communications:
Businesses need to deliver their marketing message to a relevant customer audience. By segmenting markets, the target customer can be reached more often and at lower cost
Gain share of the market segment:
Through careful segmentation and targeting, businesses can often achieve competitive production and marketing costs and become the preferred choice of customers and distributors
In most markets there is one dominant (mass) segment and several smaller (niche) segments…
For example, in the confectionery market, a dominant segment would be the plain chocolate bar. Over 90% of the sales in this segment are made by three dominant producers – Cadbury’s, Nestle and Mars. However, there are many small, specialist niche segments (e.g. luxury, organic or fair-trade chocolate).
Often for small business owners we are targeting the niche or smaller segments.
Niche marketing can be defined as:
Where a business targets a smaller segment of a larger market, where customers have specific needs and wants
Targeting a product or service at a niche segment has several advantages for a business (particularly a small business):
• Less competition – the firm is a “big fish in a small pond” ?
• Clear focus – target particular customers (often easier to find and reach too)
• Builds up specialist skill and knowledge = market expertise ?
• Can often charge a higher price – customers are prepared to pay for expertise ?
• Profit margins often higher ?
• Customers tend to be more loyal
Consider the segment you are trying to engage or attract, is it small or mass? Have you defined the segment in the most effective and appropriate manner?
Until next time,
How often do we sit and think about how symbols, pictures and taglines affect our brand? Conversely how aware are we of the effect on us of our favourite brands’ symbols and other visual identity references?
Are you a visual person, and does it matter?
From teenagers wearing Gap and Nike brand logos to adults driving BMWs, we are drawn to incorporate brands into lives. We all draw our personality and self-image from products such as cars, homes, clothing and even recreational activities, and products always have brand logos or symbols of some kind that represent them.
Nike probably got the best deal amongst all companies when Caroline Davidson designed its logo for just $35 in 1971. The main part of the logo hasn’t really changed with time. However it was 7 years before they realized that the text and the swoosh were overlapping each other. As the brand gained recognition, the company name was dropped from the logo, which made it more simplistic and memorable. The company has different variations of this logo for its various departments like Skate, Soccer etc.
One of the first steps in creating an identity for an organization is the development of an effective logo. An appealing logo makes your business special and memorable in the eyes of your clients or customers. Each element adds unique characteristics to a logo. It is important to remember that your logo is not your brand. It is just one part of the entire brand implementation process.
Keep it simple.
The simpler a logo is the more it is, the more cost effective it is to reproduce. Your logo needs to remain consistent in color, font and proportion where ever it is used. A brand comprises many elements. These include its name, positioning (reason for being), trademark/trade dress (symbols, colors, typestyle, package configuration), and brand communications. These brand elements, when successfully developed and managed, create a strong identity for a company. Over time, this creates strong brand authority.
Until next time,