PITSTOP YOUR MARKETING nr 2: Is your company (still) differentiating & irreplaceable?

October 27, 2015


For this second Pitstop, we look at the core of any communication plan : What do you stand for? When is it time to rethink? 

1. People can't tell the difference/buy cheap versions of you. 
“They're all the same”. “They all apply the same over-used words”. Did you become an interchangeable copycat commodity? And if you say commodity, you're only competing on price & swimming in margin-destructing red oceans. If you stop being irreplaceable, it's time to innovate. Be edgy, make bolder choices & claim a more specific/unique brand territory. In short, define your DNA.
2. You have a better product but nobody notices. 
The era of “My product is perfect, I don't need marketing” is over. If you're product is so perfect, you need to be able to tell that story.Clarify your unique selling proposition (USP) & how you bring value to your users. In such a way & such user-intelligent places that you get on people's radar.
3. In a Google-world, noone finds you. 
In online anarchy, you don't just sell products anymore. You need to build awareness of your very existence first. You need to get noticed beyond the noise. Do you stand out in the chaos?


More than 50% of decision funnels today
happen before the 1st human contact.
People need to figure out on their own, in front of their screen, what you’re all about. No sales assistant to help them through the conversion funnel. Brands want to be present early. Make your way to the top 3 options buyers will consider when moving to purchase. Is your positioning so clear & simple that your message will stick to prospects' minds until he's ready to buy?
4. Competitors have 20x your budget.
If you can't beat their media budget, you need to make sure you're so distinctive that you don't need to repeat messages as often as your high-budget competitors. Emerge without hitting hard. Break the category codes. Small budget/challenger brands need to be so unique that their stopping power allows them to stand out in the fragmented media-clutter. “Think different” & make every € spent 300% efficient. 
5. You want to get closer & more than a 'product'.
You need loyalty & want closer relationships with customers. Get aspirational & beyond product. Introduce an ecosystem of products & services that solves customer pain points. What's the big brand idea behind your original product? Can you replicate that in digital services? Build a relationship based on user needs (see previous pitstop nr 1 : Are you user-obsessed yet?)
6. Your whole model is being reinvented by start-ups.
Digital competition increased competitive pressure. New players storm into categories, disrupt the whole business model & change the rules. They outsource some pretty essential/expensive elements of your mix.

 If rooms are not the core anymore, what edgy reason-for-being justifies your hotel?


Why still come to a **** hotel? For a personal butler? Tailored services? A “home away from home”? Airbnb doesn’t talk about rooms, it’s about the community, about easy & relaxed experiences. New rules require new weapons. Get out & 'lend' innovation-weapons made by fast actors outside your industry. Innovation comes from creating intersections across business models. 


7. I'm too complex to be understood?
With social media, everyone becomes a medium. And word of mouth, or peer-to-peer referral is the most powerful advertising in our digital world. Can you translate complex technologic jargon into low-barrier content that 'normal' humans will share? Tell me, in 5 words : what is truly unique about your DNA? Is it simple enough my mother can repeat it tonight at some city dinner?


8. There's no coherence across touchpoints
Your territory is clear, but not always executed across all customer interactions. Hammer the same story over & over again. Make sure everything is “on-brand”: every callcenter, every letter, every facebook post or sales rep script is a building-block of your brand architecture. Build common brand equity guidelines, a checklist to avoid what's not 'on-brand'/contributing to long-term brand-development.
If you've got an unclear answer to more than 1 of these points, maybe it's time to stop & think. Bring the team together & redefine what makes your company's truly irreplaceable. To end with Oscar Wilde : “Be yourself, everybody else is already taken”.
This list is obviously not exhaustive, when would you go for a pitstop?
Gregory Berleur

co-founding consultant at theMarkitects.com

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