How do you increase market share? Kill The Cows
By Tom Dougherty
There can be no sacred cows when trying to understand how to increase market share. Everything about your marketing, brand, position, and even your perceptions about your customers and competition must come under great scrutiny. Otherwise, the position of your company will be wrong, and your competition will be the one stealing market share from you.
Where do you start? Napoleon told us “the policies of all powers are inherent in their geography,” so the first place we need to look is the market landscape. Take an inventory of all the competition. Work on your marketing tools making sure they are not dated and useless.
This is no quick and easy task. To utlize the right marketing tools you need to gather all of the competitive advertising and marketing materials you can get your hands on and objectively evaluate their brand messages. The greatest difficulty in mastering this task is fostering objectivity.
For example, you may know that a competitor’s product is less effective or inferior to your offering, but it is important that you ignore this “insider” knowledge. What you are attempting to do is understand and evaluate the advertising and marketing messages, because that is how the customer chooses. This is about consumer perception, not necessarily product reality.
Be Objective and Develop Market Objectivity
Market objectivity will lead you to the correct answers. In all likelihood the customer lacks your inside knowledge and will evaluate the marketplace based on the brand and marketing messages. What should you be looking for? In a word – brand position. A separate page should be kept for each competitive brand and you should divide the page into five topics:
These are the five categories that you need to evaluate to fully understand the marketing positions of your competition. Belief. After looking at the marketing messages, ask yourself, “What does the brand believe?” For example: A brand of convenience stores may hold the belief that the idea of convenience does not mean a compromise of quality.
This belief should be at the root of their brand message. If you can identify more than one brand belief, list them. Purpose. Ask yourself, “Why does the brand exist?” For some, this will be similar to the unique selling proposition.
For the more successful brands, it will be a good deal deeper. Start by asking what basic service this brand provides. For example, a soap powder’s purpose could be “to brighten colors.” In this case, however, we want to find what it ultimately does for the customer in their lives. The answer could be ” to lessen the homemaker’s workload.” Promises.
What does the brand promise, and what does it promise to deliver to the customer? These promises often define both the purpose and the brand personality. Do they promise honesty? Integrity? Value? Modernity? Heritage? Family appreciation? Usually, this turns out to be a list of promises, and some of them may appear to be a bit esoteric. For example, “We promise that our customers are hip and cool.”
You will need to use your best objective judgment here. Personality. Think about the tone and style of the brand messages and you can imply the brand’s personality. This is a judgment call, but extremely important because you will usually end up developing a brand for yourself that is positioned against this personality (and will have more meaning to the customer as a result). Positioning. This is your summary statement of everything you have gleaned up until now. It defines why the brand is here. It will reflect the personality, promises, beliefs and tonality.
How to Increase Market Share? Chart The Market
Once you have analyzed the competition, you can begin charting their individual positions on a series of axis to find market opportunities that hold the most meaning to customers.
You begin by plotting the positions of your competition from an inside-out perspective – that is, from how the market identifies itself. (For example, the beer category may position themselves as imported or domestic and robust or light.) Plotting the competition this way will give you a snap shot of the current market. You will often find that the messages and positions are vastly similar among your competitors and yourself (see an example of charting a market here).
That’s only the start. In the next issue, we’ll show you how to develop a brand promise and advertising message that positions your brand in a more advantageous place. That means looking at your market from the point of view of the customer, an outside-in perspective that defines the ways in which customers choose to buy a brand.