Pulling Out Your Hair
Some years ago, a nationally known lecturer was losing his hair. Ironically, he was so consumed with hair loss — and so much in denial — that he considered himself to be a man who had hair. He subconsciously filtered out advertising directed toward bald men because “they couldn’t be talking to him.” This little confession has significant meaning for marketers looking to steal market share. If your brand is about hair replacement or augmentation, you understand that all of the marketing is trying to convince the customer to fight his baldness. Brands are losing business to the market leader because they are all standing in the same position. There is a better way- taking a different position. Think of establishing a position in relation to the customer’s decision making. Why not talk to him before he thinks he’s bald, catching him earlier in his decision process?
Taking a different position can be a hair-raising experience and something marketers do not do often enough, which can leave them chasing the market leader with brand strategies that only resemble what that market leader is already doing. In this case, the customer will choose the market leader almost every time. The rest of the field has not given him a reason to choose otherwise because the entire category of brands are fighting at precisely the same location on the decision landscape, the point after he has decided to fight baldness. What if you positioned yourself uniquely in his mind before he made that decision? View your market landscape in a differently.
If you are outspent by the market leader in your category, you are probably not as well known, but if you change the playing field to your advantage instead of hitting the competitors head-on, you can steal share. It is difficult to beat a competitor at his own game, yet this is precisely what the vast majority of advertisers and marketers attempt. Instead, evaluate the opportunities from the customer’s viewpoint. Move farther up in the decision-making process and consider the possibilities from his point of view, from the outside in. Let’s look at the hair restoration business again, but this time from the perspective of the customer. Hair loss does not usually happen overnight. It is a gradual process the customer is learning to live with — albeit grudgingly. Eventually, he may even convince himself that it’s not really happening. However, most brand strategies start from the wrong precept (the basic belief of the customer that directs him to choose). The brands think he believes he is bald, so they promise him that he will look and feel younger, meet an attractive woman, or keep the one he’s got. He will change his baldness. That kind of marketing approach is wrong if you want to increase your market share. (All marketing should be about precepts. Read why here)
For one thing, all the brand messages are saying the same thing and at the same time during the decision to buy. Think of it like players on a basketball court. Everyone is standing at the same position in order to grab a rebound. In that case, who’s going to get the rebound? The market leader will. So you must choose whether to continue playing in the same position as everyone else or if you should analyze the playing field and position yourself more strategically.
Simply put, the battle for business and brand identity needs to be closer to the point of contemplation about what is happening and not at the traditional point of taking action. Like most behaviors, the person losing his hair knows it all too well. He tries to deny the loss by combing his hair over the top of his head, wearing a hat, and testing any number of compensations long before he decides to wear a toupee, get a hair weave, or get a transplant.
That’s the point at which to catch his attention — when he still thinks he is not a bald man, before he makes the decision to buy. Select a precept that’s positioned against everyone else and has meaning to the customer. The precept dictating the customer’s behavior, in this case, is that he does not wish to admit that he is bald. He believes that no one notices because he has carefully taken measures to fake it. He is not a bald man!
Brand Decision Making
Therefore, if you want to get his attention, don’t tell him your product is for balding men. Tell him your brand is for men who are not bald because he has been filtering out those messages for balding men. Understand the customer’s brand decision making. He is a man with hair. If you tell him your brand is for men who have hair, you have his attention, you have gotten to him before your competition. You have stationed yourself in the most advantageous brand position to get the rebound. That’s stealing share.