Everything functions as a part of a system. The human body itself is made up of 11 of them. Those 11 systems work together, allowing each person to learn new information through (…you guessed it) step-by-step systems designed to teach and train. Not to mention, as you’re reading this, we are currently revolving through space as a part of the solar system. It’s abundantly clear that without systems, life would cease to exist altogether.
So now that we’ve established the necessity of systems, let’s talk about how that translates to your business’ marketing techniques.
Systems offer stability. They provide your business with a set of actions and goals that are both understandable and attainable. Attempting to successfully market a business without a well-outlined system in place is a recipe for disaster. Today, we eliminate that threat once and for all by delivering a four-part blog series on the fundamentals of The BrandsFormation™ System. These include: Strategy, Strategy-Based Message, Consistency, and Dominant Frequency. Read along as we detail how this system has the power to “transform your good, small business into a great local brand.” The following will focus on the first fundamental of The BrandsFormation™ System: Strategy.
Owning Mental Real Estate
Before we divulge into the workings of The BrandsFormation™ System, you must understand that the primary goal of any local business should be to “own mental real estate.” In order for this to occur, your business must be in the top three rungs on the “Ladder of Competition.” This means that when a consumer thinks of your industry, your business’ name should enter their mind (either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd) as a viable option. For example, when we say, “Pizza,” what companies instantly pop into your head? Determine that your business will secure a spot at the top of the ladder and own substantial mental real estate in your community. When this happens, you will have a significant advantage over the competition.
The Fundamentals of a Great Strategy
Spoiler alert: The BrandsFormation™ System will not work for a business who does not spend an adequate amount of time developing its strategy. So, let’s point out the crucial components of a great strategy.
A great strategy is…
… ”Something” that makes your business stand out from the rest.
… Easy to understand and communicate with others.
… A long-term plan of action, specifically designed to help your business WIN.
… Composed of choices that are clear, honest, and simple.
… Determined by answering questions related to The Three Steps of Effective Strategy Building.
Effective Strategy Building, Step 1: Understand Your Competition in the Marketplace
Yes, you read that correctly. Effective Strategy Building does not begin with you! It starts with an unbiased investigation of your competition and an examination of the current state of your marketplace. Determine where your business stands by answering the following:
- Who is already out there? Who currently occupies the top three rungs on the ladder of competition? Is there a market leader that is not us?
- What is our competition doing? Are they strong or weak?
- Is the “Ladder of Competition” open for a new business to come along as an industry leader, or is it already well-saturated with multiple businesses claiming to do similar things? Is there a gap where our business could claim a top place on the ladder?
Once your business can honestly conclude the answers to these questions, it’s time for the next step.
Effective Strategy Building, Step 2: Determine Your Differentiating Idea, Then Prove It
Brands across the country “own” certain concepts or ideas. These “Differentiating Ideas” are their property, so to speak. Everyone understands this about them and other business know not to imitate. For example, State Farm owns the fact that they are your “good neighbor” in the insurance industry. Does your business currently “own” an idea in the community? If not, it’s time to analyze your business and differentiate yourselves from the competition. Consider the following:
- What do we do well? Build your reputation around this!
- Why should consumers choose us over the competition? What’s better about us as a whole?
- Who fits our ideal customer profile? How can we reach this person? Don’t try to be all things to all people! Know who you’re marketing to!
- How can we dramatize our “Differentiating Idea?” How can we bring this message to life? What do our products/services do for our customers?
- Can we “own” a single word, or short phrase, in people’s minds?
- How can we cause consumers to rationalize that they need our products/services? Will they feel that they have a legitimate reason to buy from us?
- How can we prove our “Differentiating Idea” to consumers? Will it be through hard data, research, testimonials?
Once your business has determined its “Differentiating Idea,” it’s crucial to stay true to that concept. Some of the most highly recognized brands in the country have fallen victim to the temptation of “switching things up.” But refusing to fully commit to the basic idea that successfully differentiates you from the rest of the competition can cause your business to eventually lose its place in the market.
Effective Strategy Building, Step 3: Have a Communications Program in Place
Congratulations! You have officially developed your business’ strategy and are ready to get your message out to the public!
This crucial step involves another wave of strategic planning. Some businesses feel the urge to spread their marketing budget all around. They think, “We’ll spend a little here, about 70% there, and then, for good measure, just a small amount over there as well.” However, if your business wants to experience the full benefits of The BrandsFormation™ System, it is best to choose one medium (or metaphorically, one cup), fill that one up, then measure the ROI. Only when this first medium has successfully proven its worth should your business add another medium (or cup) to its marketing strategy. Why?
Because “it’s better to dominate a single cup, where you can pound away with your message against the same group of people and thoroughly capture mindshare, than to spread yourself over 7 or 8 cups and have no dominance to show for it” (“BrandsFormation™,” 68).
“A little here and a little there” simply does not work effectively in the marketplace. Additionally, since “what we hear is retained in our memories much longer and more accurately than what we see” (“BrandsFormation™,” 55), advertisers consistently trust radio as the most powerful and efficient form of advertising. Not to mention the fact that 93% of people (ages 12 and older) listen to radio on an average week (Radio Advertising Bureau). That is a large percentage of your community that your business can count on to hear its message.
Once your business effectively drives this message into the marketplace, it will not be long before your business occupies substantial mindshare and definitively claims its position at the top of the “Ladder of Competition.” Check back for our next installment in this blog series, in which we unpack the next, crucial fundamental of The BrandsFormation™ System: Strategy-Based Message.