Here are the five actions you need to grow market share. If you don’t follow these rules, your brand will not steal share.
- Find the most intense emotional value that your target audience associates with your category. Then claim it as your own. An emotional intensity is often an uncomfortable value. It can cause a small shiver down the spine or make someone a small bit uncomfortable when they visualize it. However, if it is a REAL value (and it should be), it will be memorable to the prospective target and will be viewed as truthful. Even if that intense emotional value is a negative, it is worthy of ownership. St Jude Medical (SJM), the international medical device manufacturer, embraced less risk. Despite the category’s desire to ignore risk as a faux pas, SJM recognized that the medical profession was always considering risk. Owning that brand position of providing the cardiac specialist with greater control so that he/she could reduce risk was the most aspirational position and aligned itself with the most powerful emotional intensity in the market.
- Make sure your claim is as believable as it is true. We believe in the ethical development of a brand’s message, so we insist that every strategy is built upon a truth. However, just because something is true does not mean it is believable. Sometimes it pays to downplay your product or services superiority to the competitive set for the sake of believability. Because you should be creating an emotional bond between your prospect/customer and the brand itself, it is important that they are willing to have confidence in your claim. A great example of this humility can be found in Carlsberg’s claim of “Probably the best lager in the world.” Is it believable? You bet it is because it approaches the beer drinker with an understandable sense of humility. It neither over claims nor over promises and yet demonstrates tremendous confidence. It’s the “probably” that makes it believable.
- Remember you are marketing the prospect’s self-interest, not your product or service. This is a major mistake made by most brands. They want to talk all about the product or service. How great it is. What it does. How it is better. What they forget is that an emotional bond is never created by an end result. The bond forms when a prospect sees your brand in the context of all the market choices that perform adequately as an aspirational definition of what they would like to believe is true about themselves. Tell the prospect what your brand accomplishes or does, but remember they are as much influenced by those they perceive as users of it. This is why celebrity endorsements have been used for years. But, better than endorsements, is to infuse the personality traits and belief systems of those you need to influence into the DNA of your brand. Give life to it in a way that tells the prospect not only what it does but who uses it.
- Kill most of the sacred cows. You will be surprised when you look critically at your brand position how much of the scaffolding upon which it was built is in fact unimportant to those you need to influence. The power of your strategy to steal market share can be measured in how single-minded it is. Any energy spent on values and messages that are not precisely on strategy is a waste of marketing energy. I remember when LASKO Fans, a box fan company whose sole marketing campaign to the consumer could be found on the shelf boxes in home improvement stores, had 40% of their messaging about “made in America.” The boxes were festooned with this message and some of the boxes were red, white and blue— complete with stars and stripes. It was a sacred cow that needed slaying because it was not important to consumers. They did not care. Neither did LASKO. It dismissed my recommendation out of hand. Today, the “Made In America” is gone from its boxes. In small print on the back, it now says, “Made in China.”
- Don’t forget the basics. Tell the supporting facts but don’t confuse them with how the prospect chooses. I often tell the story from an episode of All in the Family. In it, Archie and Edith are having a fight about potato salad. As Edith is making the salad, Archie interrupts and tells her not to forget to put chopped hard-boiled eggs in it. Edith complains that they have been married for years and that she always puts chopped hard-boiled eggs in the potato salad and, yet every time she makes it, Archie reminds her to do it. Archie then retorts, “Well, two weeks ago you didn’t put them in it” to which Edith replies, “Well Archie, you didn’t tell me to put them in so I figured you did not want them.” Your brand’s benefits are the eggs in the potato salad. Make sure you put them in but NEVER confuse them with why the prospect chooses. Make sure every benefit you claim says how that action or ingredient makes your brand’s promise true.