BY PENNY BURKE
Step One: Know what you're famous for
You cannot begin to construct a good marketing strategy if you don’t know what you are famous for. By this, I mean understanding what your key point of difference is to your competitors, and what it is that you are really ‘selling’. There are two parts to this element – what you are selling ‘functionally’ and what you are selling ‘emotionally’.
Having a functional sell is important. Clearly, people want and need to know what business you are in. The trouble is, nowadays a true point of difference can also be copied very quickly. And too many companies believe that their real point of difference IS functional only.
‘The reason people come to us is we have high standards and deliver’.
So how many companies set out to have low standards and intentionally fail? Selling your business purely on functional ability sells you short. Worse, it leaves you open to competitive pressure and lower margins – because as soon as your customer can get the same functional product or service somewhere else for cheaper (and there is no other aspect you are famous for except the functional one) what stops them switching? Not much!
So the second and very important aspect of knowing what you are famous for is to know your emotional point of difference, your ESP. This is the bit that should be engaging, motivating and compelling and describe to you audience whilst they should choose you above all others.
Step Two: Deliver it consistently
The second step then is about delivering what you are famous for - consistently. Sounds easy, huh?! But I see many companies who begin their marketing journey with clarity….. and what happens over time is that they move five degrees to the left of what the original core story or promise was.
Now you never necessarily see the failure the day after you make a change - often it is the cumulative effect. Each five degree change, in and of itself, is not a problem. But what happens over time is that you move five degrees, five degrees, five degrees – and before you know it, you look back from whence you came and discover you are 45 degrees left of where you planned to be.
So how does this happen? Because despite a consistent brand story and essence communicated via a promise, not every bit of emphasis or effort in your organisation communicates that story equally.
Step Three: Leverage it
The third step is about leverage; once you know what you are famous for, drive it as hard as you can. In a marketing sense, there are a whole range of opportunities to sell the brand story, particularly the emotional platform.
Really good brands develop what I call a ‘lighthouse approach’. They make sure that they communicate loud and clear to everyone who is in the beam of their glare. They don’t try to reach everyone all the time – they decide who they want to talk to and they direct their energies and their focus directly at them. They say what it is they want to say and deliver it loud and proud to the audience that is falling within the beam of the lighthouse.
What that means is that there will be some people who are not in your lighthouse, that you don't connect 100% with. And to them, you need to be willing to say 'good luck on the rocks, go find someone else’s lighthouse'.
It is better to stand for something than to stand for nothing, and if your view is... "we will take any customer who comes across our radar, as long as they buy the product", that is not good lighthouse thinking.
You can’t leverage something that you are not known for. You have to stand for something! Work out what it is you are famous for, deliver that consistently and do everything you can to leverage that - that is the secret to successful marketing.
Finally, I want to note that the best marketing outcomes are ones where the conversation around ‘what are we famous for’ is not a marketing decision, it is a business decision.
A brand story or promise cannot be supported by marketing hyperbole alone – it has to be a commitment from the whole of the business. There is no point marketing deciding they want to be the lowest cost provider – if you do not have your inventory and back of house functioning in a manner that the business can support such a promise. Similarly, there is no point trying to communicate a story that no senior leader in the organisation is truly committed to. Good marketing is good business sense.
So that is the three steps of marketing:
Step One – know what you’re famous for
Step Two – deliver it consistently
Step Three – leverage it.