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Peanut Butter Cups and Contrary Marketing

Traditional marketing teaches you to take an intimate inward look at your business, your product, your service, your ideas, or you, to determine specifically how you are better than your competition. This new understanding of your “market value” will provide you with the ammo you need to promote your offering effectively and profitably.

How is that approach working for you? Not so great, I bet. Why is that? Your competition is looking inward and coming to similar conclusions, which are then voiced, or printed identically to yours.

If what you are saying, if how you’re perceived by your marketplace, is the same as your competition, then the only thing remaining upon which you can compete, is price. It is this flaw in the traditional approach to marketing that consistently causes your individual marketing efforts to cost you money rather than making money.

Your marketplace needs a reason to call you instead of your competition. You don’t really need to be different, or do anything differently than your competition, but you do need to be perceived differently than your competition.

“Being better is one thing. Being different is everything.” That slogan describes Contrary Marketing in a nutshell. To succeed in your marketing efforts, your sales efforts, and more recently, in your social media efforts you must have a unique differentiation strategy in place.

So, what is it that makes you different from your competition? In what way are you perceived by your marketplace that answers the question, “Why should we choose you over your competition?”

I haven’t lived in Cleveland for over 30 years, however, I am still a dyed in the wool fan of the Cleveland Browns football team. During the commercial break in a recent game between the Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals there was a commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

I don’t know about you, but I love Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. I could tell you all the reasons, including the way the chocolate tastes and that little bit of grittiness in each bite that makes this treat one of my favorites of all time. But honestly, marketing a candy based on the positive attributes of its taste and texture does not set the product apart from its competition. Other candies can say with confidence, “our candy has a great taste, and great texture.”

What struck me about the campaign was the new strategic slogan employed by the company. This new slogan answers the question, “in a world filled with great candy, why should a buyer choose a Peanut Butter Cup?” The answer that this commercial gave is, “The Perfect Mix.”

That’s right. Separate from all other candies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups provides you with the perfect mix. What does that mean? Is it the perfect mix? To be candid, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is the perception.

When you invest in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup the “perfect mix” is what you get. That perception alone sets this treat apart from its competitors, who by the way, cannot now refer to their candy product as the “perfect mix.”

Why not? Because… the perception of the “perfect mix” is now taken by Reese’s in the candy marketplace. That perception is no longer available as a unique differentiation strategy.

This is the type of perception you need to create for your business. If there is one thing certain to boost your business in the year 2011 and beyond, it is developing and promoting a customized differentiation strategy for your business.

I will leave you with a story.

It’s difficult, if not downright impossible to attend a business networking meeting these days where you don’t find at least one representative of a company that provides quick and professional framing. In some of our more populated cities, it is not unusual to find more than one of these companies in attendance. When it’s time for the elevator pitch, some say, “We’re fast.” Others say, “We’re rapid.” And others say, “We’re quick.” And, they are.

I know a man who owns such a company. Our agency suggested that his business would be more profitable if he had a differentiation strategy that gave his marketplace a reason to do business with him instead of the competition.

He countered by saying that what made him different already was his commitment to service. However his competition talked about their commitment to service also, so that’s not really a differentiator.

He’s in the “Baby Boomer” age range, and speaks with an Eastern European accent. It was suggested that he capitalize on those facts, and put his service out as, “Old World Picture Framing” with the slogan, “We Take Longer, and It Shows.” That’s a differentiator.

In a world filled with picture framing competition that is fast, rapid, and quick, where would you rather take that fine piece of art or priceless photograph? You would do business with a shop that you felt would give your piece the attention it deserved.

Does the shop have to do anything differently than their speedy counterparts? I don’t think so. Can the shop charge more than their competition for doing basically the same job? I do think so. Why? Because of perception. If the market believes that what you provide is what they really need, they will choose you.

Your differentiation strategy may come to you in a moment, or your search may continue for months. In many cases, you are too close to your business and may need a fresh pair of eyes to come up with an effective strategy. I get e-mails all the time from business owners asking me to assess their strategy. If you are interested in such an assessment, you can contact me by e-mail at info@SMPerception.com.

Remember, being better is one thing. Being different is everything.

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Identify a Successful Brand Strategy with a Perceptual Map

Backwards Marketing” and “Backwards Selling” are the two main principles of Contrary Marketing™.

“Backwards Marketing” is when your tactics are put into place before you identify your brand strategy. This usually creates the need for you to compete on price.

Your brand strategy is designed to create a perception of your business that answers the question, “Why should people buy from me, and not my competition?”

This video* provides you with a tool that you can use to help identify your brand strategy. Enjoy!

*This is one of dozens of 5 minute business consulting videos I produced with Andrew Sokol.

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Baby Boomer Business People and Social Media

Speaking today for an organization where most of us in the room were baby boomer business people, I did an informal survey of those who had not yet ventured into the world of social media marketing. I waited to hear reasons that would give me a new mantra, but it kept coming back to, “I don’t have the time, or the know-how.”

Nearly forty percent of those in attendance claimed to be social media virgins. Ninety percent of those said they were too busy, busy enough, filled to the brim, clueless, and my favorite, from a non-virgin, was “Yeah. I know what you mean. I’ve got 140 friends on Facebook… Now what?”

Here’s my counsel for those of you who fit into the unlisted categories above.

If you have a computer, I want you to “give it up” to the cause and commit to the deed. I’m talking about lurking (just watching) on Facebook for a few minutes a day. All you have to do is pay attention to the posts of your friends, (If you have no friends… contact me, I’ll be your friend) and soon you’ll get the urge to respond or comment authentically, briefly, and tastefully, or you won’t.

What you will see is an amazing and equally dynamic communication process within which the world of sales & marketing functions marvelously. In other words, social media is a great place to conduct business in a kinder and gentler way.

It’s vital to remember that the selling part of the equation occurs only after the types of engagement that are already familiar to those who network in the physical world. Follow up, support, acknowledgement, and a genuine interest in the success of others are prerequisite.

Explore the world of Social Media marketing as soon as possible. Approach the process as an adventure. You’ll discover a whole new world of possibilities, and I’m certain that you’ll be fascinated with the opportunities for positive and profitable two-way communication with your market.

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Don’t Try Social Media Marketing!

After speaking at an event I was approached by a member of the audience. She said, “I’ve’d been trying to develop a social media marketing campaign for over six months, and I haven’t gotten very far. Any suggestions?” I needed a bit more information before I could respond, so I asked,  “What’s your social media strategy?” She smiled back at me, but didn’t have an answer. Most business people haven’t figured out a profitable answer.

I recommend this first step… and I always offer to assist: Clarify the marketing strategy for your social media campaign.

Some accept my offer of assistance, yet many tell me they’ll try to come up with the strategy themselves and get back to me for the next phase. That’s great… but they don’t. Why? Because they’re focused on trying rather than doing.

Are you trying to do Social Media Marketing?

How many times a day do you hear people say, “I’ll try”?

I’ll bet you hear that little phrase a lot. I’ll bet you say it yourself.

Well, what’s wrong with that? After all, from an early age you’ve been told, “Whatever you do… always try hard.”

Trying is not doing. The act of trying may actually be counterproductive.

What price do you pay in your business and in your life for trying rather than doing?

The following exercise will clarify this abstract concept.

Ready? Place your pen or pencil on the table or desk in front of you. Now… try to pick it up.

Did you pick up your writing utensil?

If you did, I have one thing to say, “You didn’t follow the instructions.”

You weren’t asked to pick up your pen or pencil… you were asked to TRY and pick it up.

Trying will rarely produce your desired result.

How often have you said to yourself… or others… “I really want to accomplish X?” How many times have you followed that statement with, “and this time I’m really going to try?”

You can probably remember a project, a task, or even a New Year’s resolution that was left incomplete, about which you can sincerely say, “Well, I tried.”

You had every intention to complete the task. You remember trying to accomplish what you’d intended. You remember the task being left unfinished.

“Trying” dilutes intention.

The more you want to or try to accomplish a task, the more challenging the completion of that task becomes.

In Episode V of Star Wars, Yoda gives a set of instructions to his pupil, Luke Skywalker. Luke responds to Yoda’s instructions with the words, “I’ll try.”

Yoda counters quietly and with conviction. He says, “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Adopt this cinematic saying. Keep it close to you at all times. Make it a part of your daily action plan. Write it out. Paste it on the wall.

We all want to do the right things. We all try to do the right things. However, the mindsets of wanting and trying come with a cost.

That cost of wanting is best summed up in this excerpt from the first in a series of books entitled “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch. Walsch’s literary depiction of God shares these words, “You can not have that for which you ask. Nor can you have anything you want. The very request is a statement of lack and your saying you want produces only want in your reality.”

Here’s the tip: Remove statements that include the words “try” and “want” from your personal vocabulary. Focus on action oriented statements like, “I’ll do the task”, or “I’ll complete the task.”

The next time you hear someone say, “’I’ll try to do the task”… rather than, “I’ll do the task”… make sure you ask them to clarify their plan.

Ask them to spell out clearly the steps that will result in a completed project.

Review the time frame. Discuss openly the consequences of leaving the task unfinished. You can demonstrate your support by simply asking, “What support do you need to complete the task?”

Here’s an exercise designed to build up the muscle of “doing.”

Over a two week period keep a simple journal in which you log the frequency of the phrase “I’ll try” in your environment. If you’re the source of the comment, ask yourself “What specific action can I take, right away, to move the project along?”

If someone else is the source of the statement you can ask, “What might stop you from completing the task?” Bring it out in the open so it can be handled. Bring it out in the open before the frustration sets in.

If you choose to take on this assignment remember to say to yourself, “I’ll do this assignment” rather than, “I’ll try to do this assignment”.

Make this shift in your communications style and watch more tasks and projects get started and completed.

As simple as it may seem, this shift in language really makes a difference.

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Are you being asked to do more marketing on a smaller budget?

This is from an article by Ike Krieger & Andrew Sokol featured in the LA Times Sunday Magazine

Q: My marketing budget has been cut, but my need for results keeps increasing.  How can I create marketing that gives me the greatest return on my investment?

A: Whether you own your own small business; are the marketing decision maker for a mid-size business; are a sales professional; or are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company; maximizing the return on every marketing dollar you spend should be among your highest priorities.

When your budget is cut, or the economy shrinks, that priority becomes even more critical.  It sounds like both of those situations exist for you right now.

Contrary Marketing LogoAccording to international business consultants Andrew Sokol and Ike Krieger, the solution lies in a new approach to your marketing and sales strategy.  Based on over 60 years of combined experience in marketing, branding, and sales, Sokol and Krieger have developed what they call Contrary Marketing™.  Here are their recommendations.

Stop what you’re doing! At least, for a moment.  Why?  Because you need to step back and ask yourself the most important question in business which is: “On what are you basing your business decisions?”

When we ask most business owners and manager that question, they usually respond with a long pause, a blank stare, and a shrug of the shoulders.  That’s because most businesses are doing what we call “Backward Marketing.”  It’s the most common marketing mistake in business, and it’s the most damaging.

“Backward Marketing” describes the process of implementing marketing tactics before there is a Brand Strategy to base them on.

Let’s take a moment to define our terms.  We define a tactic as the things you do – or implement – to market or run your business.  Your logo, for example.  Your website. Your slogan.  Your location (if you have one).  Your personnel.  Your sales presentation. Even how you answer the phone and communicate with prospects and customers.  These are all tactics.

A Brand Strategy is something entirely different.  Your Brand Strategy is a perception you create that differentiates your business or service from your competition.  Put another way, in a world full of competition, your Brand Strategy answers the question: “why you?”

We believe your Brand Strategy must come before any of your decisions about any of your tactics.

We often meet business owners who show us their pretty new logo, or funny new slogan, and inform us they’ve branded themselves.  Wrong.

Remember, a brand is a perception or idea you create in the minds of consumers that differentiates you from your competition. Everything else – your tactics – must communicate that perception.  If they don’t, they aren’t strategic, and it won’t matter how pretty or funny they are because they won’t help you grow your business.  Every business has tactics, few businesses have a strategy.

As most businesses have painfully discovered over time, marketing before strategy usually results in disappointing results.

O.K., if you’re with us this far, we know you’re asking: “what should my strategy be?”  Unfortunately, we can’t tell you because we don’t know enough about your competition and your market.

Notice, we didn’t say we don’t know enough about your business. Why?  Because knowing about your competition and how they’re perceived is more important than knowing about your own business.  And it’s far more important than knowing why you think your business is better than your competition.

We’re going to repeat that.

Knowing how your competition is perceived is more important than knowing why your business is better.

Here’s the secret of marketing success.  Listen closely; we’re only going to say it once:
Being better is one thing, being different is everything.

Think about it.  If the goal is to give consumers a reason to buy from you, rather than your competition, then you have to create a perception of difference between you and your competition, and the only way to know how to create a different perception is to know how your competition is perceived.  If you don’t create that perception of difference, you will be left to compete on price, and that’s no way to build a business.

Many business people we talk to believe they are creating a perception of difference by saying they have better “service,” or “quality,” or “value,” or “experience,” etc.

But remember the secret of marketing success: Being better is one thing, being different is everything.  There, we said it again.

Remember also that your competition is using all those same words, so when you use those words, they don’t differentiate you at all.  Besides, we’ve all heard promises about service, and quality, and value, for so long – and been disappointed so often – that we just don’t believe those claims any more.

So here’s the tip: Strategy before tactics.

There are a half dozen or so strategic ways to create your perception of difference.  Establishing a Brand Strategy that’s right for your business is just one of the marketing services provided at Social Media Perception.

Contact us by e-mail at info@socialmediaperception.com or reach us by phone at 800-700-4334.

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