By Dr. Michel Fortin
businesses build their entire marketing strategy around a particular
brand and its "better" qualities. Claiming superiority
smacks of being untrue and is often a very risky endeavor. In other
words, if you claim that you're the best, your statement will be
Years ago, a mentor once said to me that "Implication is more
powerful than specification." It is much more effective to imply
superiority -- to be perceived as being a superior company or one with
a superior product -- than to simply being (or outright stating that
one is) superior. But how do you get others to perceive that you're
the best? How does one imply superiority without stating it outright?
The following are a few pointers to guide you in that direction.
The First Always Lead
If you're the first in some category, you are also considered
as the best. People have the natural tendency to attribute superiority
to a product that's first in its category. But if you're not the
first, you can usually invent your own position. If there's no
category in which you can be first, then create one. By being the
first in your very own unique category makes it tremendously difficult
for competitors to copy you. But even when your competitors do copy
you, their marketing efforts will only help to remind people of you.
Being the first in the marketplace is not as important as being the
first in the mind of the marketplace. Working with cosmetic surgeons,
I've personally experienced this undeniable truth. A particular hair
transplant doctor is one of the first surgeons of this type. While
superiority in this field is a matter of artistic ability and not
seniority, he is still widely recognized as the best surgeon there is
-- even if he still uses outdated techniques.
Jack Trout and Al Ries, the fathers of positioning, developed
the category concept into a science. The first law in their book
"The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing," which is the
law of leadership, is based entirely on the concept of being the
first. In essence, the law states that no two bodies can occupy the
same space. If you get to a position first, nobody else can ever take
your place. Hence, being the first virtually guarantees your position.
You don't have to be the first with a product or service. You only
have to be the first in the consumer's mind. By owning the leading
position in the mind people will automatically assume that you're the
best. Why? It's because uniqueness separates you from the rest rather
than compares you to them. It's immensely more effective than actually
being the best.
Create Your Own Category
For instance, Ries and Trout prove this point with a very
simple question. They ask: "Who was the third person to fly over
the Atlantic in a solo flight?" Now, if you're not a history buff
like me, you will more than likely be stumped. Almost everyone
remembers that Lindbergh was the first because, being the first, he
comes to mind immediately. But if you were asked the same question but
rephrased in a different way (e.g., "Who was the first 'woman'
to fly over the Atlantic in a solo flight?"), your answer will
likely be "Amelia Earhart."
Look at your own life. What are the things you remember the most? More
than likely, you will remember your first kiss, your first dance, your
first love, your first car, your first day of school, your first job,
and your first heartbreak. Can you remember your second kiss let alone
your fifth one? In all likelihood, you don't. When it comes to
marketing the same holds true.
Many people try to compete by comparison and may even generate some
recognition as a result of their efforts. But where they often fail is
in creating lasting top-of-mind awareness by drowning their image in a
currently known category -- or ladder, if you will. Everybody knows
who is the first in some category or another, but rarely do people
remember who's second let alone third. If you market your company as a
better firm with a better product or service at a better price, all
you are really doing is reminding others of that which you are better
than, which is your competition.
Again, if there's no category in which you can be the first, create
one. Having your very own category is powerful because it is
impossible for competitors to beat you. Being the first, your place is
therefore guaranteed and you will thus be perceived as the best by
default -- there's no competition!
Go the Other Way
Coke, which was touted as being "The Real Thing," is
an old company with a hundred-year old recipe locked in some secret
safe. So, Pepsi decided to go the other way and proclaimed that it was
for the "New Generation." On the other hand, 7UP floundered
until it became the "Uncola." As a result, the more Coke and
Pepsi advertised, the more it helped 7UP.
For a long time, Avis was an unknown car rental agency. One day, it
finally conceded that it was number two -- second only after Hertz.
Their "we try harder" campaign, which focused on their
underdog position, turned the size of their bigger competitor into a
negative. Domino's Pizza was surely not the first pizzeria. But by
being the first to deliver its pizza "in 30 minutes or it's
free," it went from a small restaurant to a multimillion dollar
franchise operation. And there are countless other examples.
You can be the first to cater to a specific market, the first to offer
an alternative to an existing product or service, or the first to
cater to a market in a unique way -- such as by offering an ordinary
product or service but with a unique twist. You can also customize a
general product or service for a specific market. For example, you
might be a travel agency. You could decide on being the first to sell
business trips catering exclusively to financial institutions.
However, if you're not the first you might then market yourself as
"the first to serve the financially inclined," "the
leader in business trips for bankers" or "the first travel
agent for the smart financier." In other words, don't be
the best in some existing category. Be the first in one -- one you
3 Mindset Changes To Increase Your Sales And Profits
When thinking about competitive
differentiations for your product don't consider only
the physical aspects of your product. Instead think
of your product as a service. What is the service it
provides? What are the "experiences" it offers to a
customer? The answers to these questions will be more
fruitful in developing your marketing strategy than
just focusing on the physical aspects.
Ideal Marketing Methods for Home-Based Businesses
What is the difference between a small business that makes
it and one that does not? Most likely, the one that was
successful engaged in some effective marketing. Wise
marketing is critical for owners of home-based businesses.
Seven Highly Effective Marketing Tactics
Here are 7 well known, highly effective marketing tactics many small business owners overlook when developing their marketing program.