What is “Blowfish” marketing?

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

blowfishWhen I talk with Brand Leaders about their problems, one of the first things they say is they don’t have enough Marketing Budget to do things they need to do. But when I observe what they are doing, I see that they are trying to do too much with the little money that they have. No matter how much marketing spend you have, you should challenge yourself to think and act like a BLOWFISH.

Simply put, a BLOWFISH strategy is trying to seem bigger than you are. In the world of highly competitive marketing, whether you are a start-up or a smaller niche player, you need to look like a real player to be noticed and purchased. To be successful, take all of your marketing budget and put it against one target market who you know you can move. Talk about one simple message that you know will be the most motivating. Put all of your money behind one activity that you know will drive your strategy.Slide1

You need to hyper-focus all of your resources against a very tightly defined target so that you will be able to reach everyone in the target with your message and move them to take action. That might mean narrowing the age to no more than a range of 3-5 years. It also might mean narrowing other demographics such as occupation or income level. And you may choose to only focus on key influencers and let them take your brand to the bigger mass audience. The big thing for a BLOWFISH strategy is you need to know that everyone in the target is already highly motivated so that all your effort will be in providing your brand as the solution. In the first time home buyers market, (mortgages, new homes) the idea target is 28-33, when most consumers decide to buy a new home. If you can win with that target, you’ll be able to establish your brand in the market.

You need to compress your activities over a focused time period so that you seem bigger than you are. Pick a 12-week period when you think your audience might be the most motivated to buy and take all your resources you have so you can completely dominate that period. In the spirit that crowds follow crowds, the target will start to believe that you are a major brand and look like a potential leader in the market. In terms of Return on Investment, (ROI) yes it’s a higher risk, but on the other hand after 12 weeks you’ll know if you have something–either your promise or your execution–that can move your target to action. So while the ROI might look riskier it’s actually less risky because you can find out quickly if you pass or fail. When I was in the allergy business, we took all of our money and focused it on 8 weeks of pollen season and 4 weeks of rag weed season, believing if we won these 12 weeks, we’d win the year. We saw tremendous growth going from a distant #2 to the clear #1 brand.

Take all your resources and focus them on the activities you know will have the most impact in moving your target to buy your brand. Where as most brands seem to spread their resources across 50 activities, I usually recommend only 9 activities. I believe that 3 strategies with 3 tactics per strategy gives you 9 activities that you can do an amazing job against. I’d put my 9 up against your 50 any day. For a BLOWFISH strategy, I’d recommend you only do 3 activities and do them well. If you know your concept is better than the product, focus on advertising, if you know your product is better than the concept then focus on trial. If it’s a consumer driven brand, put all your money on the consumer and let them search and demand the product. But if it’s about being on shelf, then focus on the retailers. When I was in the confectionary business, we had such a unique format on Listerine strips that we spent all our money on sampling before we even got to shelf. The product was so unique, people wanted to share their secret. We were able to track that consumers were sharing a pack of 24 strips with up to 13 people, so that the consumers were doing the work for us. In our first share period, we were the #1 brand.

Where Your Focus Shows Up

  • Pick a focused Target Market
  • Pick a focused Brand Positioning
  • Pick a Focused Strategy
  • Focused Activities

Why should you focus?

  • Every brand is constrained by resources—dollars, people and time. Focus makes you matter most to those who actually might care. Focusing your limited resources on those consumers with the highest propensity to buy what you are selling will deliver the greatest movement towards sales and the highest return on investment for those resources. I was leading a session on a Tourism Region and asked who the key targets were. The first answer was pretty good–it was some of the regions that were within close proximity. Then people around the room kept saying “well, what about…” and “we can’t forget…” and “we don’t want to alienate…” And the President says in serious tone: “we target everyone, because it could be anyone really”.
  • In a competitive category, no one brand can do it all. Focus makes you decide whether to be better, different or cheaper. Giving the consumer too many messages about your brand will confuse them as to what makes your brand unique. Trying to be everything is the recipe for being nothing. I was lucky that my first marketing job at General Mills was managing child cereals, where each quarter, I had to do a promotion on 5 different cereals. So, twenty times per year, I had to work with the 2 x 2 inch corner of the cereal box and put a message that would make a 5-year-old scream at their Moms to buy the cereal. That taught me a lot about focusing my messaging.
  • Trying to do everything spreads your resources and your message too thin, so that everything you do is “ok” and nothing is “great”. With a long to-do list, you’ll never do great at anything. And in a crowded and fast economy, “ok” never breaks through so you’ll never get the early win to gain that tipping point that opens up the gateway to even bigger success. I once had a director working for me, who kept spinning around never getting anything done. His team was complaining that every time they started a new project, he’d come up with new ideas. I sat down with him and asked him to bring his project list for the up-coming quarter. He came in with 83 projects!!! I said “how do we narrow this list down to five”. He looked at me like I was insane.

When You Focus, Four Things Happen

  • Better ROI: With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy that you have chosen is able to actually moves consumers, drives sales or enhances other key performance indicators. Did you actually get done what you wanted to get done? If you spread those resources, you may never see any movement and then figure your strategy is wrong.
  • Strong Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing. With consumers, you get the reputation as the “fast one” or the “great tasting”. And internally, as people in the company start to align to your one thing, eventually you become very good at that one thing. Look at Volvo with “safety”. Every consumer message for 30 years is about safety. And internally, everyone at Volvo is fixated on safety, coming out with new safety innovations ahead of everyone else. Yes, Volvo’s have leather seats, go pretty fast, have a CD player and even come in multiple colours. But they don’t feel the need to have to say it.
  • More Competitive: As your reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory. As categories mature, brands start to stake claims and if you’ve got something that’s unique, relevant and motivating, you’ll be able to own it.
  • Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. With a better ROI, you get to go back to management and say “it worked” and they’ll say “ok, let’s increase the investment”. And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth. As you efficiently drive the top-line, the P&L opens up a bit and becomes easier for a brand leader to work with.

While many start-ups or smaller brands use this strategy, the ideals behind the BLOWFISH strategy are relevant to everyone. Look and act bigger than you are. Take all of your resources and put them to one target, one message, one time period with fewer bigger bets that you know will pay off. Wait a second, that’s starting to sound like Marketing, not just this crazy BLOWFISH strategy.

Like a BLOWFISH, brands need to look and act bigger than they are

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We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

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