Work on the Strengths of Your Brands, not the Weaknesses

Focus on your brand's strengths, and build muscles in the right places.
Focus on your brand’s strengths, and build muscles in the right places.

Let’s face reality.  Nobody is perfect.  Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses.  However, everybody tries to fix the weaknesses, rather than developing the strengths.  This is especially true in Asia where parents and bosses are just not satisfied with weaknesses in their children or subordinates.  If a child gets 90 marks on all subjects except for one subject where she obtains 50 marks, the parents will expend stupendous efforts, time and energy to focus on the weaker subject.

Same thing for a brand.  No brand is perfect.  You cannot be a brand that pleases every person on planet earth.  You cannot be a brand that is low priced, and yet offers you luxury quality materials.  Your product cannot be a sports car and yet be roomy enough to hold a big family.  You cannot be the best tasting beef burger, and yet boast of low calories.  Every brand has a strength, and that is what you focus on developing.

Volvo has strengths in safety of its cars.  Yet in certain years it tried developing powerful engines for sports cars.  Will the loyal customers of parents love how the brand is developing?  I certainly don’t think so.  Parents love Volvo for its safety, and now it has confused that strength with its sports cars.  If I have responsibility over the Volvo brand, the paramount objective is to strengthen its safety core even further, far away from the reach of competitors.  Volvo will be forever the safest car in the world.  It may not be the fastest, loudest and most sexy car, but it will be the safest car of them all.

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Truth, Love and Power in Marketing

The Ultimate Goal of All Brands
The Ultimate Goal of All Brands

I was just reading Steve Pavlina’s website on the pinnacle of human development through Truth, Love and Power.  Steve claims that personal growth will have to start with these three fundamental elements.

In marketing, it is also through truth, love and power that we grow our businesses.  It is through truth of what our products can do that establishes trust with our consumers.  With the truth about how our products can make consumers healthier or make their lives better, consumers will be willing to form a stable, long lasting relationship with us.  If we resort to marketing gimmickry and falsehood, we can get customers to come once, and then never again.

Through love, consumers want to have deeper relationships with their friends and loved ones.  If we can help them to make this easier, consumers will love us to bits too.  There are various kinds of relationship enhancements that a product or service can do.  One is to make the consumer more attractive.  Another is giving gift options for them to share their love.  Also, if you help them to save time, they will have more time for their loved ones.  Gradually, your brand will be included in their circle of loved ones.

Finally, power.  Achievement has always been what keeps us all motivated in pursuing our goals.  Men, especially wants to display their achievements through status symbols of an expensive watch, or the latest Mercedes series.  Women too are not to be left behind.  Women are getting more educated, and are increasingly found in the upper echelon of the corporate ladder.  If you can help them to reach their achievements earlier, or allow them to show their success through your products, your brand will achieve success too.

Sell stories or brands?

Consumers don’t buy brands, they buy stories. So create a good story behind your brand, such as country of origin, some special ingredients, celebrity association and special designs.

When you craft your ads nowadays, do think about engagement especially for online ads. Do you want consumers to just glance at your article for 3s after you have spent tens of thousands of dollars on it? Create content that engages, instead of simply persuading.

For each ad, have a point of view to your story. Catch the attention, cos’ good stories will not get read if you don’t catch the initial attention with good visuals and headlines. Of course, still incorporate selling messages and solve problems.

If you are having writer’s block, look at past verbatims you have obtained from your loyal consumers. Remind yourself why they love your brands. Use the keywords from their verbatims to write your ads.

I know this is controversial, but women make the world goes round. Sell to them all them time. Even for men’s products like cars and skincare, sell to the women as well. Look at P&G’s Old Spice ads in 2010 that sells men’s products directly to women. Women influences most purchases.

How to Win vs. Other Brands

Robert Cialdini is the father of the science of influence.  One of his more popular philosophy is the one on social proof.  Most people think that what other people think as correct, is correct for us as well.  What others are doing more of, is therefore normal and correct, and therefore should be emulated so that we make less risky decisions.

Leverage the social proof principles in marketing.  Tell them that your product is used by doctors, star athletes and authoritative figures in general.  Tell them that consumers voted for your brand highly in a satisfaction survey.  If your brand has won awards, tell as many people as possible.

If your sales is the fastest growing, tell others about it.  Tell the public that you are the hottest brand right now, and they should not miss out on it.

Ultimately, be focused.  As the father of positioning, Jack Trout said, be focused on one attribute story, and be focused on one target segment.  If you try to be everything to everybody, you will end up with nobody.  Even if your business has expanded to be good in several attributes and services as well, stay true to your strongest attributes story, and forget about trying to craft new, multiple attributes stories.