Wanted : New Market Leaders

Between social media, reality television, lower cost video and distribution systems, we have seen the rise of many celebrity business leaders.  All you have to do is go to YouTube to uncover tens of thousands of entrepreneurs selling their goods and services. But does it work?  In a word, yes, but to be successful you need be a great marketer.  But what makes a person the right person to represent your product or service? I would suggest to you that for most entrepreneurs they are their own best spokesperson.  I can hear you thinking, me??

Yes, you and here’s why. Most successful entrepreneurs are great at identifying new opportunities in their markets. Many times long before their competitors do.  They must be able to create a cohesive story of why they see their markets changing but also their vision of where the market’s going.  The strongest force you face in the early stages of your business is people not willing to change. Your competition is the status quo, not others with the same view of the world.  Without a good reason to change, people won’t.

I remember being taught in my marketing classes that if you build a better mousetrap, people will come. But with today’s global competition, all you’re doing is lowering the cost of a commodity that you can’t hope to produce cheaper than your offshore competition. Today, market forces are driven by highly segmented markets with individuals who are looking for something specifically for their use.  It doesn’t mean they don’t buy commodity products in large volume.  It just means that you might need to expand your horizons on how you sell and manufacture these goods and services.

For most professional service and emerging technology firms we need to change how we go to market. When I started writing about market leadership it was defined as a brand, product, or firm that has the largest percentage of total sales revenue (the market share) of a market. A market leader often dominates its competitors in customer loyalty, distribution coverage, image, perceived value, price, profit, and promotional spending.
I worked with many market leading consumer companies like Canon, Apple, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, General Electric, Microsoft, IBM, and many other well respected brands.  Today, most of my marketing work is done in emerging organizations that are just beginning to break through in their markets. Because of the prolonged economic downturn, my clients are working with smaller budgets and more targeted messaging. They want me to help them with traditional marketing efforts but also need me to work with them on using PR and social media to enhance their organization’s reputation in the market. They want to be working in real time based on what going on at any given moment. They want to build more agile marketing teams and create new opportunities in key markets in real time. The weeks of slaving over an individual marketing campaign has given way to a ready, fire, aim approach to marketing where we capitalize on our speed and our team’s creativity.  My clients are in the business of seeing and acting on new opportunities.

These changes require us to be able to have people coming back for more. We can see this with Apple and many other leading consumer brands. We are no longer selling a product or service.  We are now selling an experience or a community to our consumers. This is the paradox of seeing  our customers as individuals and not a part of a larger market. They want an individual experience that they can share with others and want to be part of our movement.

Look at President Obama’s last presidential campaign to begin seeing the opportunities this provides your agile marketing organization. He created a campaign that was hard, if not impossible to duplicate for a second time. It involves fascinating people through his personality. His marketing team created a connection to his audience that still resonates with many voters today.  It proves good marketing has staying power. Even with all of the problems in the economy, the marketing image created for Obama still has him in the race.  The challenge for us as marketers is that we have to create ongoing experiences with our best customers.  If we don’t we may be also looking for a new job. Our bosses and clients have become accustomed to do more with less and will continue to demand it from us. So strap on your running shoes and be prepared to get moving. We are going to discuss the idea of what makes an agile marketing organization today and how you can capitalize on this new Wild, Wild West time in history.

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