By Angelo Ponzi, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer of Strategic Market Intelligence
Developing messaging for your new campaign is simple, right? Identify the markets or categories you want to target, get to know the customer—his or her decision journey, motivations, pain points – then develop your brand message, slogan, creative and communications channels. Then market to them with a one-size-fits-all approach. Easy right?
Every year companies launch campaigns only to have them fail. Sometimes it’s the messaging that doesn’t speak to the needs of the buyer. Other times, it’s the behavior the campaign is trying to influence. Or, the channels are just not resonating with the way the customer consumes information. Or, worse, it’s a combination of all of these factors.
That’s why understanding the dynamics of the market in which your company or brand is competing is extremely important. So many times we tend to focus on the campaign development that we forget to think about market dynamics.
Besides the customer themselves—IT Managers, C-Suite, etc.—the competition (single product or multi-product competitors) and your overall image as a brand, you have to also consider the current political environment, the economy, technological changes and other external factors that can have an impact marketing success.
And, while you’re looking in the rearview mirror at your primary competitors, don’t forget to look out the front window at the smaller brands that have a foothold in the market or markets you serve. Maybe there are already five other brands in the market and you’re the last one to enter it. Maybe you’re the market leader and you’re trying to fend off the competition, or new and better products? Or, you’re the leader in one product category, but a challenger in another. Knowing where your brand and or your various product/service offerings stand in the market is essential before developing your campaign strategy and messaging platform.
Take all of these influences into consideration when you’re structuring and defining your positioning, your values, your overall strategy and, ultimately your messaging. The way you speak to the market is very different if you’re a leader rather than a challenger. A one-size-fits-all strategy is not a strategic solution.
One piece of advice I give my clients is to think globally, not locally. By locally I mean the US, for example. Why? Because the image, position or reputation that your brand communicates is only one tweet, blog, post, link or share away from being talked about on a global basis.
What, you don’t sell internationally? Well maybe not today, but someday when you do, everything known about your brand will already be out there!
Keep in mind that while your messaging or the way you communicate may change based on the dynamics of the market, it is of utmost importance that your brand’s personality doesn’t change as you’re doing it. You need to establish your brand’s core personality, including the tone in which you speak to your audiences, and keep it consistent. You need to consider identifying a common motivation or need across markets that speak to their aspirations or values, not just your product features and benefits. This way the overall image and culture of your brand remains consistent and familiar to your various audiences.
In thinking about the markets you serve and the dynamics of each of those markets, keep several things in mind.
1. Does your audience think about your brand across all of the markets/product categories you serve? Does it have the same associations with your brand? If customer attitudes vary by market and there is inconsistency, then there is a strong possibility communications that work in one market will not work in the other.
2. Know your market position and market share. Messaging that speaks to customers/prospects from a leadership position is different than that of a challenger. One of the mistakes companies make is to assume that the communications they create for a well-established brand in a mature market will also work in a new or emerging market. Familiarity with the category often determines how much you need to explain to your target audience versus what you can assume they already know.
3. Be mindful of your competitors. Take the time to analyze their communications, not just their product features, sales and market share. How are they speaking to your customers and prospects? Are there gaps in their messaging strategy that you can take advantage of? Is it a crowded category? What’s their spending level and which channels of communication are they using? Remember, just because your message may be distinctively in one market or product category doesn’t mean it will resonate in another.
So, when putting together your new campaign and developing your communications strategy, don’t assume a one-size-fits-all messaging strategy.
Take the time to understand the dynamics of the market you’re competing in as they will shape your strategies, your messaging and your brand.
Angelo brings over 25+ years of business experience in sales, marketing, branding, strategic planning and research to Strategic Market Intelligence. His senior level expertise includes developing and directing comprehensive market/product research, branding and communications plans for a variety of business-to-business, consumer, medical, package goods, general retail, fast food, financial and high-tech clients. He has led both small and large teams at global, national, regional and start-up companies, as well as worked with products in all stages of their lifecycle, from inception to implementation. Previous positions have been on both the client and advertising agency sides of the business giving him a unique understanding of his client’s marketing and communications needs. Prior to founding Strategic Market Intelligence, he was a senior level business/marketing consultant, Director of Sales & Marketing at PhaseOne, EVP/Director of Marketing Services and principal at Open Minds/RPA for over eight years, as well as founded and ran his own marketing agency for fourteen years. To learn more about Angelo and Strategic Market Intelligence, visit www.strategicmarketintelligence.com.