Get Back In The Marketing Saddle. Be aggressive
While this article was written in the throes of 911, it is still a valuable dissertation on marketing and worth a read.
Back To Business
The tragic events of the last few years have left marketers searching for the appropriate marketing response. Somehow, “business as usual” seems a little out of sync, callous, and unfeeling. Yet, “business as usual” is the most patriotic action we can take. The President of the United States has asked Americans to carry on.
He is asking us to not allow the memory of the destruction of the World Trade Center to be the demise of our prosperity and economic vitality. Uncertainty is here to stay. How we adapt to that will determine the possibility of winning brands. This is a noble cause — a goal that is not simply our jobs but very much in keeping with our patriotic duty.
However, “business as usual” is not the “usual business.” Marketers and advertisers may indeed attempt to get back in step but the consuming public will no doubt be a few steps behind. Stealing market share from competitors has never been more important. Even new emerging markets will find more success stealing share from competitors rather than building categories. Long time market leaders need to take a fresh look at well-worn and successful aggresive marketing and advertising strategies of the past against this new and oft times tentative market.
Napoleon understood the limitations of conventional wisdom. He was once quoted as saying in the parlance of his time, “Without doubt the first duty of a ruler is to do what the people want. But what the people want is almost never the same as what the people say. Its will and needs ought to be found not so much in the people’s mouth as in the ruler’s heart.”
With the game on the line, this is no time to play defense. Safety is paramount when one is protecting a lead. In leaner times, times like these, victory belongs to the bold. A base hit in good times may be enough to drive home a run, but desperate times require bold action — sometimes only a home run will do and aggressive marketing is the answer. Research will, at its best, give you a great look at what has happened in the past.
It is not quite so expert when it comes to predicting the future. As a matter of fact, it has a very poor track record when it comes to foresight as opposed to hindsight. The reason for this inadequacy is because human beings have a very difficult time visioning what they want if it is not in their own experience.
It is precisely this human axiom that makes invention precious. Once again Napoleon had advice for those of us involved in marketing battles. He wrote, “If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks, glory would become the prey of mediocre minds.” (Read more about the marketing wisdom of Napoleon here)
The solution? Aggressive marketing.
Brands in tough economic times need to act differently. Play hardball. The skill set needed to steal market share is rare and highly specialized. It is a marvelous blend of strategic and tactical thinking. Its called aggressive marketing.
Start by challenging your most fundamental assumptions. One of the rules for stealing share is to constantly challenge assumptions and conventional wisdom. You are asking people to change behavior and switch brands. This means you are asking them to reevaluate behavior that often is practiced without cognitive process. Habits are a means by which human beings bring ease of use into their lives.
What might be some of those assumptions? There are a couple of ideas that might need to be challenged: 1. “Media success is a matter of reach and frequency. Possibly you are not asking enough of your creative product.” Perhaps it is too safe and not nearly memorable enough. Reach is much more important in stealing share than frequency.
Why? Because even if you have an advantage in share of voice, odds are there are more voices in the marketplace than your solo act. The goal is to reach as many customers as possible and to tell your story in such a compelling way that it is simply unforgettable. 2. “As a smaller player, you can save more money for media if you cut corners on production.”
Forget about it. Production is no place to cut corners. Remember rule #1. Stealing share means relying on reach and unforgettable creative power. Top shelf production costs are simple table stakes. The market is so crowded today, and the consumer is so savvy that they have come to expect more — even from local and small advertisers.
Your message competes for share of mind with every message that bombards the consumer every day. The smallest bank advertisement competes with the largest of the mega-brands for business. Aggressive marketing cuts through all the fog.