By Tom Dougherty
Unless your brand lives in an alien world, a world different from the rest of the global marketplace, your marketing communications are designed to do a whole lot more than just retain your current customer base.
Retention without growth is a recipe for eventual surrender (at least for Napoleon when he said “the ultimate end of defensive warfare is surrender”). While it may be true that customer retention should always be top of mind for any brand, market share growth is how we all measure success.
This does not seem like much of a ground breaking statement, that we all desire our brand value to attract new customers, but when you look at the brand marketing and advertising messages that most companies put forward, it is hard to believe that new customer growth is the goal. (When to rebrand and rebranding advantages)
The Four Rules of Rebranding
Our specialty at Stealing Share is in market growth, and despite these economic tough times, our customers have been thriving and growing at the expense of their competitors. Why is this? Because they all understand that if you are going to steal your competitor’s customers you need to understand three immutable rules:
- What promises (triggers) that might be made by a your brand that would most encourage our competitor’s customers to try a different brand and strengthen rebranding advantages? If any “triggers” do in fact exist, which do customers rank as the most powerful?
- When the customer thinks about what is most important in their lives, what is it that they believe to be most important (customer self-description)?
- What do they aspire to become? What do they fear they are at risk of losing?
For the purposes of this article, we will concentrate on the first element. All three are imperative and need to work in concert one with another but the first, by all accounts the simplest to execute and understand, is proof in point that most brands simply spin their wheels and pay only lip service to the goal of exponential market growth. Rebranding is all about persuasion.
Switching Triggers are Part of the Key for Grabbing Rebranding Advantages
When we speak of switching triggers, (you can read more about switching triggers here) we ask ourselves to define the attributes that the product itself delivers and to identify those attributes that are of primary important to the target audience and would encourage them to switch brand loyalties.
Almost all brand managers look at these attributes everyday, consumer products do a better job of this than most services and business-to-business products, but as often as not, the concentration is on what we refer to as “table stakes.”
Switching triggers represent benefits that rebranding persuasion needs to differentiate its offering from the competition and excite the target audience to switch. This must mean that the triggers represent values that the customer lacks or simply desires — however in all cases, switching triggers must represent a value that the customer does not already enjoy.
Hold right there. Take a look at your own brand value. What are the attributes that you claim? Are they unique to your product or service or do the represent a litany of attributes that describes what your category itself promises?
Airlines think we will choose them because they have friendly service representatives, competitive process, convenient routes, frequent flyer programs, on time schedules, and a complimentary beverage service. United, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest, Jet Blue — it does not matter which one, they all promise “all of the above.” (Read about the airline industry here)
These are not switching triggers. These are the bare minimum that any airline CAN offer to simply consider itself an airline today. These are business practices and in no way represent switching triggers because theoretically at least, airline customers today, enjoy all of these things.
Banks are just as guilty, believing that customers would switch if they had the ability to have friendly tellers, free checking, convenient hours, plenty of ATMs and low fees. Our council to clients is deliver ALL of the table stakes and fix the category best practices. Then, and only then, can you focus on our second and third questions cited earlier. Once you fix the category failings you can concentrate on the highly emotional intensities that define a share stealing strategy.
Domino’s pizza is embarking on a rebranding advantages path right now. It is a wide-open category filled with opportunity when any player can differentiate itself by claiming “better ingredients”. Should we not at the very least expect “better ingredients”? I guess Papa John’s thinks we cant and they have positioned themselves in the market by trying to claim such inanity. The rest of the pizza category is so terrible that this has worked. Look out Papa John’s — Domino’s is catching on.
After all the least you should be able to expect form a pizza is good taste (the result of better ingredients) but this is a category of truly bad product. So rather than continue to fight over stuffing crusts and free bread sticks, Domino’s has decided to tackle the best practices head on and we give them kudos for doing so.
They acknowledge in their recent TV campaign that their “sauce tastes like ketchup” and a host of other product failings. In a refreshing spat of mia culpa, Domino’s has acknowledged a category failing and is promising to fix it. If they succeed in delivering a better product, they can set a new standard for mass merchandised pizza and begin to steal market share by addressing the emotional connections in our rule 2 and rule 3.
Take a look at your own brand value as dispassionately as you can. If you are claiming the table stakes and trying to differentiate your brand by means of category descriptors— call us. The answer is not as far away as you might think. It lies in the rebranding advantages and the advantages in rebranding.