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Marketing Agency

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Exactly Who is Your Competition? Key to standing out in a crowded market…

As part of a brand or marketing analysis, it is very important to determine:

  • what your competitors are communicating online and offline
  • what their customers are saying about them
  • and most importantly, what competitors aren’t saying that your business does well

The Real Competition – A traditional competitive analysis, detailed above, is the baseline. It is good to keep an eye on similar products/brands. However, the building blocks to ongoing marketing and product/service improvements should not be based on what competing brands are doing. Instead, day in and day out, concentrate on your real competition: every “obstacle your customer encounters along their journey to solve the human, high-level problem your company exists to solve.” (Harvard Business Review, Competition, Obsess Over Your Customers, Not Your Rivals by Tara-Nicholle Nelson).

As mentioned in the Harvard article, focusing on competitive products/services often leads to “me-too” products which puts you into a pricing war (i.e., commodity) or could potentially be pointing you down a path of creating and pushing an offering that customers might not have liked that much in the first place!

You and your team’s efforts should be spent truly understanding who your most profitable target audience is, their needs and desires, and the obstacles your company solves for them. That audience may or may not be the majority of your current customer base. Maybe there is a problem that exists that your product or service solves, that is not being communicated?

Research is key, and it is at your fingertips.  For example:

  • IT Consulting Company? Start a LinkedIn group, asking CIOs and CTOs to join the conversation around the topic of hurdles to overcome to maximize ROI in technology and services.
  • Medical practice? Read the Yelp and Google reviews for your practice and similar practices, take notice of trends the reviews might highlight, i.e., we love going to Dr. Smith, she accommodates our schedule with weekend and early morning appointments.
  • Retail? Talk to your customers… Give them products they don’t normally buy to try in return for a 10 minute conversation with them after they use the product. What did they love, what didn’t they like and most importantly, what problem did it solve?

Don’t go with the status quo. Allow time to take a step back, analyze the real needs of your audience as compared to your passion. Why did you start your organization ? Are you being true to your “why”? It is often the intersection of the business owner’s why and the real needs of your audience (problems solved) that bring profitability and most importantly, joy in what you do. It matters.

Spinning Your Wheels on Marketing?

More than likely, it’s not the marketing, it’s the message. 

I often hear from clients, we spend tons of money on direct mail (or print advertising or social media) and results are less than 1% ROI. No bueno.

So, what’s the answer? 

  • What’s your Why? People don’t buy what you do, but instead, why you do it. They want to be inspired, appeal to their gut feeling/intuition.
  • Pinpoint what your business does differently and better than competition (based on your why).
  • Define what audience is eager for that offering, and within that audience, which is the most profitable
  • Create messaging around that offering that is bold, creative – a true stop them in their tracks and make them think, want to learn more
  •  Research and develop a marketing plan to deliver that message or series of messages to your most profitable target audience using the communication tools they are most likely to use.

Differentiators – Best Quality, Best Service, Lowest Prices are NOT differentiators, most people say that, most customers don’t believe it until they experience your product or service, don’t waste time saying it, especially in the 8-10 seconds you have to first catch their attention. What’s the true differentiator? The intersection between what competitors are NOT saying and the true, genuine WHY you started your business. I facilitate messaging workshops with business owners and executives that includes taking an objective look at what competitors are saying and compare that to the true WHY of the organization, as well as its weaknesses. The methodology always results in a differentiator resonates – as well as creative ideas to communicate it.

Most Profitable Target Audience Your business cannot be all things to all people, unless you have a boatload of money to spend (throw away). The most successful businesses start with one very specific target audience and offering. Reaching 10,000 high-income residents within 1-2 miles of your business with a message that appeals to their lifestyle has resulted in 30% response rates vs. a generic message to the entire population with less than 1% return. Even if 1% of a larger population nets the same number of individuals reached as the 30% of 10,000 (3,000) a generic message to all falls flat, resulting in:

  • lower sales per person
  • one-time customers, never to return
  • often, bad online reviews. Why? They don’t understand your WHY, they aren’t your audience.

As part of our methodology we conduct focus groups and one-on-one interviews with our clients’ various audiences. With data in hand, we narrow down the most profitable audiences and develop personas for each, as the go-to for all new marketing initiatives.

Bold Messaging  – Don’t wimp out. And, don’t try to develop it yourself. Shameless plug, but, creative agencies are objective and well, creative!

Targeted Marketing – With your most profitable target audience in mind…

  • Millennials? – Facebook and even your website is a thing of the past to Millennials, concentrate on Instagram and getting great Yelp and Google reviews. Don’t even consider print advertising.
  • Baby Boomers? – Facebook, Facebook, Facebook – the MOST targeted advertising available. Print in a local magazine that is well respected by residents, with your BOLD message, remember, don’t whimp out
  • Generation X or Y – A combination of the above, dependent on your product and what is available in your region.

Interested in a 30 minute, complimentary assessment of your brand? Call me (Heidi O’Leska, President, Marketing Strategist, Vintage Juice Brand Marketing), 703 922 2442.

Branding & Marketing Agency based in Alexandria VA.