Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Acing marketing by answering 3 simple questions

 What business are you in. No, really?

Nikon is not in business of selling cameras, they are in the business of helping people capture, store and share priceless life’s moments.
Nokia is not in the business of selling phones, they are in the business of connecting people
Bell Larger is in the entertainment business, not beer.

Before a company markets a product, a long and thoughtful process should go into defining who they are as a brand and what they stand for in order to determine their positioning in the market. A company with a good understanding of who they are, find is easier to develop a single minded marketing and communications approach in messaging.

Having a single minded approach towards a product or service helps to strike consistency across the brand experience timeline which in turn helps customers to see the brand in the same eyes as a company might. For example Coca-cola’s single minded approach is to “Inspire moments of optimism” which is why all their commercials have an embedded theme pointing towards happiness.

As a company they are obsessed with this proposition, to the extent that they ran a “happiness” vending machines campaign in select colleges in America, which rewarded students with random gifts like guitars, pizza etc. through the machine. Brining to life their single minded proposition by demonstrating how moments of optimism could be inspired every day.

 2.       Why are you doing it?

Google – organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Starbucks – provide an uplifting experience that enriches people’s life.
Mastercard – making the life of E-commerce simpler.
Observing a cross section of industry giants, it is clear that the world’s most valuable brands have managed to sell the “why” factor so well to their customers that a purchase goes beyond the symbolism of a transaction to an expression of an experience.
Selling the why factor is more inspiring because it magnetizes consumers to your product not necessarily because of what you are selling but rather because the consumer wants to outwardly express that they share the same belief system as you. This explains why people are willing to spend way more money on an iPhone against other relatively high end affordable smartphones like Samsung.
 A classic example of this law in motion is how Martin Luther King led the human rights movement in America. He certainly wasn’t the best orator of the day or the only African America who had suffered oppression, however what he did right was communicating what he believed in, instead of communicating what needed to change in America like many activists before him had done. By doing so he was able to inspire people who believed in equality, who then took his cause and made it their own , so when 250,000 people showed up to hear his “I have a dream speech,” they didn’t show up for him, they did it for themselves as an expression of their beliefs.
Here is how Apple uses this concept to sell its products

“In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently - (Why). We do this by designing beautiful products that are simple to use and user friendly - (How/reason to believe). We just happen to have made an iPhone 6, want to buy one? (what/proposition)

3.       Are you ahead of your customer’s needs and wants

Thomas Edison didn’t perform a market study before inventing the light bulb

A great company should constantly be in the process of re-innovating and re-imaging the experience a consumer receives from a product which is why it is imperative to stay ahead of a customer’s wants and needs which are constantly shifting. So much so that the company is providing services that a customer may not even be aware that they need. Think of an iPod which led to the creation of iTunes.

An example of a company that failed at this is Kodak whose camera film sales dropped by 97% between 2002 - 2011 because they had failed to realize that their consumers where trading in their old film cameras for digital cameras which didn’t require a film. What if Kodak had invented the memory card?

Western Union could have been the mobile money of today however it’s too big of a chasm to cross from telegraph, to computer, to internet if you skipped telephone in the middle, which they did in an internal memo in 1896 dismissing it, describing it as “The telephone had too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

With the insight that every industry is prone to change, companies should be smart enough to go back to the drawing board every now and then to provide a better service and product experience for their customers whose tastes and preferences are constantly shifting too.  This also means that the real action is happening at the next curb. If your company is not

re-innovating itself, your competitor is. You never want to be caught with your pants down like the banking sector was by Mobile money which has forever changed the financial landscape as we knew it.

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