So then, what is the secret? I believe understanding 5 key principles are essential to implementing effective marketing techniques.
Principle #1. BACKWARD MARKETING
Every business has tactics. Few businesses have a Brand Strategy.
Tactics are the things you put in place, or the actions you take, in order to bring your product or service to market including: product development and packaging; distribution channels and sales teams; your logo and website design; and everything in between. These are the tactics of a business.
The problem most businesses have when it comes to effective marketing techniques is that they don't base their decisions about tactics on any underlying strategy. The practice of implementing tactics before Strategy is what I call “Backward Marketing.” It is the most common problem among businesses big and small.
“Backward Marketing” is the primary reason most companies find their marketing efforts costing them money, rather than making them money.
Remember, tactics before Strategy is like butter before bread; it’s not a good idea.
Principle #2. BEING BETTER IS ONE THING, BEING DIFFERENT IS EVERYTHING.
Most business owners think that a successful Brand Strategy lies in the idea that their product or service is better than the products or services of their competitors. Nope. The key to a successful Brand Strategy lies in creating the perception that your product or service is different, from your competition.
Want proof? Look at the perceptions these top brands have created. Notice that none of them have built their Brand Strategy around the concept of “better”:
McDonalds (Family/Happy);Nike (Athletic Spirit);Coke (Real Thing/American);Pepsi (Youth);Levis (Classic/American);Marlboro (Masculine);Volvo (Safety);Apple (Innovation);Subway Sandwhiches (Fresh/Healthy);Walmart (Low Price).
If it’s true that effective marketing techniques create a perception of difference between you and your competition, then you must first know how your competition is perceived. This requires an “Outside-In approach; looking outward at the competition and the market in order to identify what strategic opportunities are open to you.
Unfortunately, most businesses try to identify their Strategy by looking inward, trying to identify why their own product or service is better. As we discussed, your Strategy lies not in claiming you’re better, but in creating a perception of difference.
Once you’ve identified your strategic opportunity in this way, you'll be in a far better position to create truly effective marketing campaigns.
Principle #4. WHY SERVICE IS A BAD WORD
Obviously, it’s important to give good service, but saying you give good service is ineffective as a Brand Strategy. Why? Because your competition is saying the same thing about themselves, so it's not one of the most effective marketing techniques to create a perception of difference.
Plus, as consumers we’ve heard claims about good service so often, and been disappointed so often, that we just don’t believe such claims any more. For the same reasons, other words that are ineffective as differentiating strategies include:quality, honesty, integrity, value, experience, and the list goes on.
Principle #5. WHAT WILL WORK FOR YOU
How nice it would be if I could say right here what the most effective marketing campaigns would be for you. Obviously, I can’t. There are too many variables, and there is too much about your business, market, and competition that I don’t know.
For example, trying to open a new hamburger restaurant chain with a perception of being the “happy, family place to go for a meal” is a recipe for disaster since McDonald’s already holds that perception in the minds of consumers.
Always remember, your opportunities for effective marketing campaigns lie in what your competition isn’t doing.
If you want your marketing to make you money rather than cost you money, you must first discover how your competition is perceived, so you can develop a differentiating Brand Strategy of your own. The good news: few if any of your competitors have a Brand Strategy. This means you have a tremendous opportunity to use these effective marketing techniques resulting in truly effective marketing campaigns!
-by Andrew Sokol