Brand strategy: Mass market, the niche and Coke

Teachers, speakers, gurus and consultants drill into the minds of business owners the importance of targeting, segmentation and positioning. There is an abundance of advice available on why and how you shouldn’t try and target a broad group.

But playing devil’s advocate, isn’t it sometimes better, even more appropriate to cast the net wide? It works for Apple (especially at launch), Argos (the high street retailer with a  catalogue in 70% of UK homes) and of course Coca Cola.

 

Especially when you consider Andy Warhol’s famous quote:

   “A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than               the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same. Liz                 Taylor knows it, the President knows it and the bum knows it.”

Coke distributes 1.7 bn drinks a day and as a business is more interested in converting the 585m Facebook accounts that DONT currently subscribe to their page rather than the 25m that do.

Most companies claim to serve the customer. But don’t be fooled. These companies are in it for themselves. Coke’s global business strategy is to ensure that anyone, anywhere, can get their hands on a Coke if they want one.

Which begs the question are you concentrating on making a fantastic product and service that is delivered exactly the same to whoever buys it, or are you killing yourself trying to bespoke to niche customers over and over? Might just be worth thinking about.

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How storytelling can enhance your brand

With a greater focus on content and context driving long term engagement with brands, I found this Slideshare by StoryBeats to be timely and relevant to the debate.

What I particularly like about it is the way they have drawn creative inspiration from a range of sources – in this example films and games – but have also fused some interesting b2c case studies into the presentation too.

Indeed, using strong characters, plots and scenarios to help create a point of connection with your customers – some common ground – is a powerful first step in developing a relationship.

I think using stories and values to position companies and their brands have never been in sharper focus. Companies that continue to differentiate themselves in this way will stand out from the pack.

Be interested to see what you think.


B2B Marketing Principles 6: Brand Value Systems

Building and raising brand awareness is often a hallmark of any B2B marketing plan but do you as a B2B marketer have a carefully constructed consistent and coherent system in place to measure the value of your brand?

We sometimes assume that if a cluster of prospects have some awareness of your offering, and can identify with it, this puts you in a more favourable light to secure their business. That’s why most B2B marketing plans include some form of advertising twinned with targeted direct marketing aimed to acquire and then retain customers.

If you’re going to invest in creating and promoting a brand, consider how you will measure effectiveness and value. Becoming, and staying ‘front of mind’ can cost a small fortune as companies compete to build a brand containing some intrinsic brand value.

Take a different view. One where you don’t own your brand and it is instead defined by those who come into contact with it. Think of all your brand ‘touch points’ – a trade counter, your call centre, a representative or engineer, your mail shots, your advertising, your exhibition stands, your seminars, your website, email, social media pages. All of these can offer a great experience and provide the opportunity to ask for feedback. And therein lies the rub: The only way to create a benchmark, and then measure brand value, is to ask.

The Cooperative asks questions on their Chip & Pin machines at the checkout. Linkedin, SurveyMonkey and Zoomerang polls can be quickly created and distributed. Email and website based tools can be effectively harnessed post transaction. In-store and direct marketing response offers can be deployed. Questions can be added to omnibus surveys. And at the most expensive but perhaps most focused end of the spectrum, you can utilise focus groups and tailored market research programmes. There are a wealth of online tools to monitor chatter and buzz about your brand online (to be covered in a future blog).

What is clear is whilst you may set a vision and a value proposition for your brand, it is the market that ultimately determines how your brand is perceived. Come out from the ivory tower, never assume your view is in the line with the market and always deal quickly with a complaint.

Put in place a regular, rigorous process for measuring the effectiveness of your marketing. Focus groups and online research panels together with quick fire surveys can give you a measure of perception together with partnership surveys created with relevant associations and institutions, trade publications and exhibitions.

Image www.davidzinger.com

Doing it well or not at all

Launching a brand externally before you’ve prepared the company for the reaction…

Spending money on branding but letting regional managers do what they want with it…

Advertising your product but without  a compelling call to action…

Crafting the most enticing copy imaginable but using tired old stock images in your brochure ware…

Building a database but not using it effectively for relationship and business building purposes…

Sending direct mail but not following up by phone…

Building a beautiful website but not investing a little more in ensuring the world can find it…

Writing a blog but not using RSS, Twitter and your website to distribute it…

Taking space at a major trade show but failing to build an integrated communication campaign around it in advance to drive interest…

Everyone of these (and more) are a crime against marketing but are committed on a daily basis by businesses the world over. Is yours one of them? Isn’t it better to market well or not at all?

Is branding all that matters?

I watched the first instalment of Jo Malone’s High Street Dreams on BBC1 where the retail entrepreneur mentored two food businesses and gave them the opportunity to pitch to major supermarket purchasing teams.

I had been looking forward to it but came away a little disappointed as the entire focus of the project in both cases was to get the brand and packaging right. Sure this is absolutely critical but when you’re starting out, as both were, the key thing is surely to drum up interest and some sales to convince anyone to take a chance.

Check it out on BBC iPlayer and let me know what you think. This link won’t last for long.

When developing a product, there has to be a need (a ready made market) or a strong perceived need for it, and there have to be some very clear benefits for why it will sell.

I just felt the programme glossed over some of the more important elements to creating momentum around a brand, and indeed the cultural and organizational aspects of moving a business from your own kitchen to supplying a high street operation like Waitrose or Asda.

And just to square the cirle, I went looking for Muddy Boots burgers in Waitrose on Saturday, but there was no sign, and I’m assuming that the programme was made some time ago. A massive promotional opportunity missed there by everyone involved.

It brings the topic of brand into sharper focus. GyroHSR, an international B2B agency, recently staged a well publicised event with the question of whether ”Brand or Demand’ is the objective of marketing at its heart. I think brand is important, but it is definately not all that matters.