There is a right way to conduct research to grow your market share and a wrong way. Unless you are asking the right questions, your research will fail.
You must go beyond theory and identify the emotional drivers of your target audience and use tough-minded strategies and positioning to steal market share from the competition.
Stealing Share has developed a unique process unlike any other brand company in the world that is designed with a single purpose, to steal market share.
As a corporation, Stealing Share® battles many misconceptions because we define ourselves as a brand development firm. Most companies confuse the idea of brand with the product name and only think about brand when they are launching or re-launching a product into the market. The misconception is that brand is something you consider and invest in only at the product’s germinal stage and is simply “managed” for the rest of the product’s life cycle.
Few Need Name Changes
However, the majority of our work does not involve a name change or new name. In fact, most of our critical brand work is designed to empower an existing brand to be more important to the target audience and to make all advertising and communications more effective. This indicates that there is a big disconnect between what the market believes BRAND is and what brand actually controls and effects. The tendency today is to hold your advertising and marketing goals beyond reasonable possibilities.
We expect our advertising to deliver our marketing message in compelling and convincing manner. We expect our marketing department to segment and understand the target audience in a way that finds opportunity to grow share and exploit competitive weakness. Both of these expectations are valid, but advertising is tactical and marketing strategy needs to support it — brand strategy provides the permission to both to be important. Great brand development understands the preceptive (not perceptive) fabric of the target audience and accounts for the societal context. It then builds a foundation of permission on both. This permission is the DNA code that makes your marketing and advertising thrive and drive. Without this foundation, your marketing and communications cannot reach their full potential because your target audience does not see them as either fully believable or “lawful” based on their own sense of brand permission.
Brand Needs an Outside View
Companies have marketing departments and most have advertising departments — but none have brand departments. They might have brand managers (like P&G, and Unilever) but brand development cannot happen internally. You must have an objective view to develop brand strategy that steals or grows market share. To do it effectively you must have the freedom to challenge everything and that includes all preconceived notions or tightly held beliefs. Brand is so germinal to your success that it is nearly impossible to see it objectively when you are on the inside. This is the fatal flaw that pushes brand onto the back burner as only a “name change” or “product launch”.
To evaluate your current brand objectively is akin to looking at your beloved family photo album and commenting to yourself that your “kids are very homely.” Many times, this is precisely the place where Stealing Share® finds itself. It is our objectivity and lack of political ties that allows us not only to say it but to be heard. When your advertising is not delivering the goods and sales are not as robust as they should be despite a robust product or service — your problem may very well be a brand issue and not an advertising problem. How many ad agencies has your company changed in the past 10 years?
A new ad campaign will give you a shot of adrenaline because newness will give you a bump in sales but after that bump are you back down in the doldrums again left to trying to boost sales through discounts, promotions and increases in media spending. A great brand makes your advertising work harder because it is a strategy and not a tactic. It only grows more powerful as time moves forward and is the counterbalance to “new and improved.” When your brand is defined properly, as a highly polished reflection of your customer’s precepts (beliefs) then your advertising works harder, your marketing improves and your product or service sells even if it is not the lowest priced or the most convenient. The market is so crowded and noisy today that your customer spends most of their time filtering out messages not "paying attention to them." The estimated 1,800 marketing messages that they receive everyday does not even include those that they receive on-line. The noise that this chatter creates is such a din that the customer must find a means to turn down the volume just to maintain a sense of normalcy. This means that they tune out messages that they believe are not vital to their own sense of self.
Messages are Filtered
If you have ever bought a home you have seen this phenomena first hand. While in the market for a new home, everywhere you went you noticed the Coldwell Banker, Century 21, ERA, Prudential or local real estate company's “For Sale” signs. Funny thing: after you bought your home, they all seemed to disappear. Why is that? It is simple, your mind decided that the noise of “For Sale” signs was no longer part of your core identity and it simply pushed them off into your mind’s junk mail box and turned on your SPAM filter. Just delivering your product message battles with these filters everyday. Your goal must be to get past these filters and into the considered set. Tactical marketing and advertising plans try to overwhelm this filter by talking about the category or product or service. You can't make your brand important to the prospect by claiming that it owns or represents category benefits.
Brand permission, when it is crafted to reflect the beliefs of the customer moves around the SPAM filter it by identifying the PERSON and not the product or service promise. At some point, the need to buy a house goes away and gets sated. So all the Coldwell Banker, Century 21, and Prudential signs fade away as no longer important. However, the need to see oneself as a "caring provider for my family" does not. Finding the key to personal importance is the main function and the domain of your brand. Uncovering the preceptive life markers is the science of it. Understanding this perspective and keeping your marketing and advertising on brand strategy is the difference between winning and losing.