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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Does execution eat strategy for breakfast?

Peter Thomson thinks so with this thought provoking slide set looking at the importance of delivery above all else. Some areas of potential disagreement but the tenants are sound. Happy customers often become repeat customers. Take charge of ensuring you can get your product into their hand when they need it (the Coke approach).

It all looks great for consumer marketers, but what about b2b where the procurement process is more involved, more considered and more decentralised, influenced by many different individuals with different needs?


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.

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Recession marketing

In an interview with Marketing magazine, Nick Smith at Accenture talked recently about the four key things that businesses should be focusing on in order to safely navigate the recession. They are value, innovation, expectation and organisational ethos. Here’s my take.

1. Value Fundamentally are you overpriced for what you offer? What do you stand for and offer? What service, experience, add ons and extras can you or do you provide that make your offer more competitive from a total package perspective?

How does your value proposition sit when compared with the competition and the perceptions of your customers?

2. Innovation Despite recessionary economics suggesting that we ‘regress’ and seek out brands that remind us of more prosperous times, there is a data supporting the proposition that we’re attracted to innovation and the idea of the new, exciting and different. There are countless examples of companies and products (including Apple) that start up in recessions, capture the imagination of an audience and ride it out.

Where you can innovate in your product/service without losing focus? Perhaps on value?

3. Experience/expectation Nick says high performing companies understand the customer experience. What is undeniable is the power of the Internet, broadband, the mobile revolution and the viral nature of communications now means that businesses have to think much more strategically about their marketing communications. Brands like Vodafone map brand touch points well to ensure consistency and clarity.

Have you mapped your brand touch points? How do customers find you, engage with you, convert and keep coming back for more?

4. Organisational ethos With the Internet at the heart of everything, non responsible behaviour, or poor or non-response when a brand is under the spotlight, is amplified. Strategy, speed, impact and a feel for emerging technology are all key if today’s marketers are to make the most of opportunities and to head off potential crises.

Is your organisation ahead of the curve or behind the times? Surviving the recession depends on it.

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