All Businesses are also Communications Companies.
Who You Really Are. What is Your Brand Essence?
So you are a manufacturing business. Or you are a marketing business. Or you are a service business. But did you imagine that no matter what business you are in, you must think of your business as a communications company?
Here’s why. It’s startlingly simple. Your business competes for the same target market that your competitors are after. It is the purchase decisions of this target market that determines the revenues — the revenues you get from them. And its your job to make sure that more and more people in your target market purchase your product rather than those of your competitors, and that they keep on doing so.
Considerations for Marketing Preference
This raises the first big question. What is the greatest single factor that determines that your target market purchases and keeps purchasing your product in favor or those of your competitors? In most cases, other factors being equal, this single factor is preference. Preference is the top rank in the minds of your target group. If more people in your target group prefer your product over those of your competitors, you are more likely to get more revenues than your competitors, and have a bigger share of the market. (Read about the importance of brand meaning here)
brand Essence: Look From a Different Perspective
Think about yourself as a customer. Chances are that you already have a preferred product in most of the categories of products you use. Not that you will always purchase that one. There might be “other’” factors, like unavailability, price, shelf position or a current promotion that might make you buy another product. But assuming most of these “variables” are equal, you will most likely purchase your preferred product. This has profound implications for your business. It means that the primary thrust of your business must be to generate, build and consolidate preference for your product among your target market. Which raises the next big question. What’s the best way to ensure that your product is preferred over its competitors?
Gaining Marketing Preference
There are two steps involved in getting your product preferred over those of your competitors: The first step to ensure that your product is preferred over its competitors is to identify that perception of your product in the minds of your target market that appeals most powerfully to their motivations and aspirations of your target market than do the perceptions of competitors’ products. But identifying this perception you will know what kind of perception needs to be formed in the minds of your target group. But identifying the right perception is not enough. (read about an outside-in approach here)
You need to think about your brand essence. This perception has to form and grow in the minds of your target group in order for your product to be preferred over those of your competitors. How do product perceptions form in the minds of your target group? Like they do for you and me and everyone else. Product perceptions form through accumulations of residue in our minds – from experiences that we attribute to a particular product. (Read how your brand can create preference and importance here)
The Main Consideration in Brand Essence
And this brings us to the second step to ensure that your product is preferred over its competitors. All the experiences of your target market that can influence their perception of your product are communications. A communication is any experience we develop for another or others, which experience results in a specific perception in their mind/s, which perception would not have occurred without that experience. So in order to ensure that your products are preferred over those of your competitors, you must regard all the experiences that your target market will have, that they might attribute to your product, as communications — as communications that will contribute toward the development or consolidation of the right perception in their minds. As these experiences are really communications, they must be designed and managed specifically to generate the perceptual residues that will form or affirm the right perception for your product. To put it more obviously, you must regard every kind of experience that your target market might have, which can contribute to their perception of your product, as a different communications medium that you must manage and design for maximum impact toward the delivery and formation of the right product perception.
Beside the Obvious, Think about your Brand Essence
Aside from the communications media that you already think of as such, like advertising, promotions, merchandising and packaging, you must now focus on those target market experiences that you have so far not thought of as communications media, but which have already been influencing your target market’s perception of your product: The actual performance of your product, and the behavior of the people or methods for product support are probably the most important communications media toward generating the right perception for your product.
And these communications media involve not just the performance of your product in use. It also includes how easy it is to access, how convenient it is to use, how effortlessly it prevents waste, how it looks in their home, the demeanor of your support people, their actual behavior, their effectiveness at solving actual customer problems, and the consistency between the things they say and what actually happens for customers. Some of these hitherto unknown communications media are therefore your product design, your product research, your product manufacturing, your product components, your product reliability, your sales people, processes and methods, your billing people, processes and methods, your collections people and methods, and your customer service people, processes and methods.
Bottom line, it’s high time you think of your business as a communications company as well. It’s high time you think of all of the experiences that your target market might have that might influence their perception of your product as communications media. And it’s high time that you design and manage all these experiences just as you already design and manage your more ‘obvious’ communications media. (read our keys to winning here)
Remember, NOT to think of and treat all the kinds of experiences your target market will have of your product as communications will inevitably result in unintended perceptual residues in the minds of your target market that might dilute, diffuse or even prevent the formation of the right product perception, and thus reduce your product’s preference among your target markets; and thus reduce your revenues as well. Your business is already also a communications company, whether you know it or not.