Al Ries and Jack Trout were onto something 25 years ago when they first published The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. They told us that if you can’t be “first” in a category, then maintain intense focus on owning a single concept that consumers either place great importance on or associate uniquely with your brand.
That’s still sage advice, but it’s far more difficult for brands to adhere to in this day and age. Consumers have moved away from linear purchase journeys and, in this always-on world, spend nearly all their time in non-linear consumption loops. They have far more varied touch points with brands and their peers than they used to have. This results in limitless influences on their brand perceptions and consideration, with brands simply trying to keep up and potentially taking their eye off the ball.
The good news? There are still plenty of ways research can be creatively employed for brands to understand current perceptions and opportunities, and to assess how well they are delivering on their single most important differentiating factor across all touchpoints throughout the consumption loop. In fact, doing so is more important now than ever.
Start with foundational knowledge.
It’s always a good idea to gather consumer input about what your brand stands for and how it compares to competitors. Even established brands, who have clearly defined positioning internally, can sometimes be blind to elements of their marketing or service that detract from the intended positioning. Take a step back and make sure you have current information about what matters to consumers in your category, and what really drives their decision to purchase one brand over another. Then, determine which brands own each factor and if there are any unmet needs up for grabs.
Ideally, your brand will already be uniquely associated with something really important to consumers. If not, start looking at the unmet needs and determine how easy it would be for your brand to take ownership of one of them. And, if going after an unmet need, keep in mind it has to be something your entire organization is poised to deliver better than any competitor could.
Adjust your marketing efforts, if necessary
If you find your brand’s position to be inconsistent, or if the position that’s available for your brand has changed along with marketplace shifts, take action. Craft new marketing collateral you think will drive home your position and get reactions to it from your target customers to make sure it will resonate in the way you intend. Use a mix of qual and quant techniques to iterate and refine marketing messages before launching them in the market to protect your important investment in renewing market energy around your brand.
Put customers at the center of everything you do, using your unique position as your guiding light.
It’s not good enough to simply advertise your position. The entire organization has to live and breathe it every day—from production, to marketing, to sales, to customer service; online, in-store, and elsewhere. Evaluate all parts of the consumption loop and every touch point customers have with your brand to understand how clearly your unique position is resonating in all facets of the business. Use a mix of traditional qual and quant techniques, as well as mobile and immersive methods, to get as close to the customer experience as possible. This will allow you to more clearly identify specific strengths and opportunities for improvement.
Interested in learning more about how to identify and tap into the unique power of your brand?