Some marketers and business owners believe that the strength of their product or service is what determines success. While this is no doubt true in a few rare cases, most often, even a great product or service has to be marketed properly to succeed. And the best marketing is centered around what we call a BIG IDEA. By this I mean that you have (and show) a true competitive differentiation, and the value-add extra that makes what you offer both unique and better than your competitors.
If you are going to create a powerful marketing and sales engine, then you must absolutely have a compelling marketplace position. Positioning is one of the most misunderstood, unappreciated, and neglected parts of the marketing process. I think David Ogilvy was right when he stated that positioning is the most important decision made in promoting a service or product and also when he said that successful positioning has more impact on the results of a promotion than how an advertisement was designed and written. This is why I urge our clients to devote plenty of time to craft their positioning and brand promise before starting any new campaigns.
The brand promise is what you promise people they will receive when they do business with you. And position is defined as “the manner in which an organization and the products or services it provides are perceived by prospects and customers.” Every organization, as well as each product or service, has its own unique brand promise and position. A company can occupy different positions among various audience segments.
People can also have their own unique positions (leaders like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are good examples), which are often built and reinforced through social media. While there are some pitfalls to avoid, companies can gain major benefits from properly positioning their key executives. But be careful, because as John Quelch said, “Personal brand equity erodes much faster than corporate brand equity.”
Since it is hard to be all things to all people, I strongly suggest that you ditch the “me-too” approach and focus on your own big idea. The best way to think about this is to consider how you would answer if a prospect asked you the question: What’s the big idea about your company? You might as well do this because prospects ask themselves this question every time they consider purchasing from you. The reason many of them don’t buy from you is they don’t think your offer is a big idea, perhaps because you don’t tell them why this is true.
The me-too approach may be safer but it can also make you appear to be a commodity, and commodity companies are not successful in an era where consumers have so many choices. The lesson is simple: be different and have a BIG IDEA.