How We Work: Part 2
If your company simply disappeared today, what would your customers miss most tomorrow? Put another way, what makes you famous? High performing companies spend a great deal of time helping their internal audiences understand the answer to this question along with their external audiences.
Your brand's positioning can be examined through a number of different techniques. We use positioning maps and matching exercises that examine strengths of your company versus your competition across the things that really matter – emotional and rationale drivers of purchase decisions and loyalty. The result of this work is a unique and differentiated value promise, one that is consistent with the learning from the work you've already done defining what you do (core competency) and who you're for (target markets).
In developing or evolving your brand positioning, we explore five components, each one contributing to helping you understand the whole of your positioning and ultimately in using it to shape your ability to compete in the marketplace. Ultimately your company's brand is not about what your customers buy, it's what they buy in to. Strong brands differentiate and provide a reason to purchase beyond price. They allow you to win the ties.
Message Strategy or Telling Your Story
While everyone knows Volvo to be positioned around safety, there are many ways to tell this story. That's the work of a message strategy. It's the way into your positioning and the "how" you bring to life the work you've done defining what you do, who you're for and how you're different. Your message strategy is the outline for your story – a compelling argument to become a customer and to stay one.
The message strategy work we do centers around 7 questions that link your story together. They uncover a unifying and central message that best brings to life your company's unique brand positioning in one sentence. The process forces you to focus on one key word from this central message. It then asks you why someone should care (forcing emotional reasons to believe) and why your target market should believe you (the rationale proof points).
The process develops a tonality for the messaging addressing how the target market should feel after hearing this (excited, safe, like they learned something, fearful, loving, etc.). And we make sure everyone understands the call to action or the behavior that's required from the message.
Managing Behaviors – The Core Job Of Every Marketing Department
There are four behaviors that form the core of what every marketing department is responsible for managing:
- Acquisition of new customers.
- Re-acquisition of lapsed customers.
- Increasing purchases or purchase rate of existing customers.
- Retention of existing customers.
The sum of these four behaviors equals any given company's sales for the given year.
Similar to marketing objectives, there are two main areas of communication objectives that need to be addressed and measured over time.
- The awareness and knowledge measures.
- Changing perceptions critical to the target market's purchase decisions over time.
If we find that awareness is below that of a client's competitors and acquisition of new customers is a priority, we'll develop specific strategies to increase awareness and invite trial. These strategies and ensuing tactics would be very different than solving retention objectives which might show up in poor retrial or repeat purchase numbers be due to product or after sale customer service issues. Thus as the chart below demonstrates, at this point in the process, we help build linear solutions based on the specific set of objectives that are established. The management in this example is responsible for obtaining $6M. They will do this by managing the individual objectives that lead up to a target. So in the end, this hypothetical company is managing three target markets each with multiple objectives. We eat the elephant one bite at a time!
We often measure the wrong things. Most organizations start with comparing results against sales and profit goals, the behaviors you're managing (acquisition of new customers, increased purchase of existing customers, retention, and re-acquisition of lapsed customers). These are the behavior results and while critical, they are easier to quantify and evaluate.
However, there are a host of other critical measures that are more difficult to evaluate. These measure provide the knowledge between the headlines when it comes to improving your business performance. The chart below examines some of these.