I recently got a copy of the book Screw Business as Usual by Sir Richard Branson for my birthday. It had an insidious effect on me. Have you ever read one of those books that made you stop and question everything you’ve been doing? Made you think, “You know, he’s right, this isn’t working!” This is one of those books for me. Sir Richard made me realize that maybe I’ve been spending too much time trying to bring everyone along, rather than focusing on the few that “get it.” So, you may notice a change in my blogs from this point on. I won’t be trying to convince everyone that this is something you should all be doing. I’ll only be writing for the few that recognize that this is what they need to be doing and want some direction of how to get there.
In challenging times, it’s critical for your business to be a market leader. How has market leadership changed over the past several years? How do you become the leader in your market? I think the major change facing today’s entrepreneur is the size and scope of their markets. When I started my career, markets were evaluated by their size and sales volume. It was a mass market bias that said, ”I may not make much on each individual sale, but I will make it up in volume.” Marketing was driven by attracting the attention of the masses and then finding ways to bring in new customers. Our advertising and marketing was designed to appeal to the masses and, in many cases, unspoken needs. For example, many people began smoking because it conveyed cool on the smoker. Smoking gave a certain cache to the smoker within their peer group. Once they hooked the person, the advertising messages would create specific positioning within the smokers’ minds. They would use peer pressure and other influence strategies to keep people coming back for more of their product.
Today, market leaders have a different set of rules in defining the market. In many cases, they focus their message with more targeted communications that are designed to attract a specific consumer to their products and services. The market leadership position may be defined by profits and market penetration. More time is invested in getting the right consumer for your products and services and then retaining them for the longer term. Your consumer is able to look at a wider range of services in a very short period of time. They are able to find out more about your product than even your best sales professionals know. They can also uncover information about how the product is used in the market and by whom. This shift has created a more powerful group of consumers and has allowed customers to self-select what products they want and how they want to use them.
So, how does this marketing paradigm change the way you go to market? I believe we have moved into the influence age of marketing. In this era, your customers and clients are looking for something different from what past customers have looked for in products and services. They have different expectations from you and your marketing activities. How do you build a position in your emerging markets that will provide both better profitability and market share for these new consumers? With shorter new product development cycles and a more active customer base, how will you continue to build stronger brand loyalty with your markets while insuring that your business will be able to see and seize new opportunities?
Next week, I will begin sharing several new ideas that may change how you market forever. This is not the business as usual marketing that is done by many large brands. I will share many of the ideas that have created significant wealth for the entrepreneurs who have used them, and have helped change their markets forever. I think challenging times create both great opportunities and potential catastrophic results for your business. I will share what’s working today and how you might apply it to build your organization moving forward. Some of the material will be controversial and won’t be for everyone, but I feel you must be aware of these marketing shifts if you hope to succeed moving forward. See you here next week.