February 26, 2015
At Beloved Brands, we always start with the consumer so that we ensure we are meeting the needs of consumers rather than blindly putting things out into the marketplace that no one wants. However, the second check is the competitive nature of your positioning to make sure I’m not blindly putting things out that someone is already doing. Murder and Strategy have one thing in common, they both start with opportunity. There is talk this week of Apple getting into the car business. Yes, I’ll await with excited breath at what it looks and feels like–I can predict that it will carry stylish designs, take every car technology and make it simple enough for everyone to use and provide top of the line quality in workmanship. It will come at a significant premium. Wait a second, it’s a Mercedes. Apple has only done well in categories where technology geeks can’t see straight enough to simplify their product enough for the average person to buy it. Apple has won by offering simplicity in the face of frustration. Yes, there is frustration with Chevrolet and Chrysler but Apple won’t be priced in the Chevy range. That’s not the case with Mercedes.
Brands have four choices: better, different, cheaper of not around for long
The key is to find a unique selling proposition for your brand. You don’t always need to find a rational point of difference as long as there is room to be emotionally unique.
Map out everything your consumer wants–all the possible need states. Then map out all the benefits that you and your competitors can do better than anyone else–both functional and emotional zones. You want to find that intersecting zone where what you can do best matches up to a need state of the consumer. Then find a way to serve that need state to the best of your ability and transform it into an even bigger deal than first meets the eye. Avoid the intersecting zone where your competitor is better than you and please avoid that zone where you and your competition foolishly battle in an area that “no one cares” about. The battle ground zone is where both you and your competition can satisfy the consumer need at an equal rate. To win in this situation, you need to get creative and find ways to out-execute or find some emotional connection that changes the game and makes you the clear winner.
At the start of any strategy definition, you should ask “where are we?” Here are four questions to be asking that force you to choose four possible solutions to each.
- What is your current share position in the market?
- What is the core strength that your brand can win on?
- How tightly connected is your consumer to your brand?
- What is the current business situation that your brand faces?
This article focuses on question one which speaks to where you rank in the market, which a great indicator of how much power you can command in the market. You have four choices, using Marketing Warfare (Trout and Ries) you are either the Leader, Challenger, Niche or a Guerilla.
- Leader (defensive): Leader of category or sub-category defending their territory by attacking itself or even attacking back at an aggressive competitor.
- Challenger (offensive): Challenger’s attack on the leader to exploit a weakness or build on your own strength.
- Flanking: An attack in an open area where the Leader is not that well established.
- Guerrilla (Niche): Go to an area where it’s too small for the Leaders to take notice or are unable to attack back.
The leader uses defensive strategies
Defensive strategies should be pursued by the leader. Not only the market share leader, but the perceived leader in the consumers’ mind. Attacking yourself is the best defense. Identify and close leaks in service, experience or products. Introduce new products superior to your current. Challenge the culture to step it up to continually get better and stay ahead of the competitors. Can’t be complacent or you’ll die. The Leader blocks all offensive moves. Keep an eye on your competitors moves—and adjust your own brand to ensure you defend against their attacks. Attack back with an even greater force than the one attacking you. Demonstrate your brand power. Leverage all the brand power you’ve mustered to maintain your positional power.
The challenger brand uses offensive strategies
The best offensive attack is to actually find weakness within the Leader’s strengths. Turn a perceived strength around is very powerful. Attack a weakness might be insufficient. Be careful of the Leader’s Defensive moves. Anticipate a response with full force—possibly even greater than yours. Avoid wars that drain resources and hold same share after the war. Attack on as narrow of a front as possible to ensure your resources are put to that area—which might be more force than the leader puts to that one area. Narrow attacks are effective when the leader tries to be all things to all people—enabling you to slice off a part of their business before they can defend it. Leapfrog Strategy, technology and business models are game-changers in the category.
The flanker brand stays clear of any battles
The flanker strategies go to uncontested areas, in the safety where the leader is not competing. Make sure you are the first in this area. Speed and surprise can help win the uncontested area before the Leaders take notice. Make your move quickly and stealthfully. Follow through matters, to defend the area you’ve won. Others may follow—whether it’s the leader trying to use their might or copy cats looking for an early win. You can win with new targets, price points (premium or value), distribution channels, format or positioning. Flanking, while lower risk of attack from the leader, is a higher risk with consumers because innovation is always riskier because consumers might not like the concept.
Guerrilla warfare wins where no one notices or cares
Pick a segment small enough that it won’t be noticed and you’ll be able to defend it. Be aggressive. Put all your resources against this small area, so that you’ll have the relative force of a major player. Be flexible and nimble. You’ll need to enter quickly to seize an opportunity that others aren’t noticing, but also be ready to exit if need be—whether the consumers change their minds or competitors see an opportunity to enter. Explore non-traditional marketing techniques to get your brand message out and your brand into the market quickly. Because you’re playing in a non-traditional market, you’ll be given leeway on the tools you use. For Guerrilla brands, it is better to be loved by the few, than liked or tolerated by many.
Marketing Warfare Rules for Success
- Speed of attack matters. Surprise attacks, but sustained speed in the market is a competitive advantage.
- Be organized and efficient in your management. To operate at a higher degree of speed, ensure that surprise attacks work without flaw, be mobile enough.
- Focus all your resources to appear bigger and stronger than you are. Focus on the target most likely to quickly act, focus on the messaging most likely to motivate and focus on areas you can win. Drawn out dog fights slows down brand growth. Never fight two wars at once.
- Use early wins to keep momentum going and gain quick positional power you can maintain and defend counter-attacks.
- Execution matters. Quick breakthrough requires creativity in your approach and quality in execution.
- Expect the unexpected. Think it through thoroughly. Map out potential responses by competitors.
Use competitive strategy to find your point of difference
Bringing our blog to life through video
At Beloved Brands, we have created a new video Series called BELOVED BRANDS 180. Each video will be 180 seconds (3 minutes) in length and our goal is to get Brand Leaders to do a 180 on their thinking. We want them to think different, because the thinking that got you this far, might not be enough to get to where you want to go next. Today’s video topic is “How to write a brand positioning statement”. Brand positioning statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind. While we think this brand positioning statement sets up the creative brief, it should really set up everything the brand does–equally important for internal as everyone should follow to what the positioning statement says.
At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential. Here are the most popular article “How to” articles. We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic. Click on any of these most read articles:
- How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement
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At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a workshop on THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:
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