Check out the price(s) on the car in this photo. See anything odd? Indeed, that is an ‘interesting’ real world pricing strategy in action.
If you’ve ever tried to sell a car on your own, you know how delicate the issue of price is. Too high, and you won’t garner interest. Too low and you’ll lose out, or significantly delay the sale when potential buyers shy aware for fear there is something wrong with the vehicle.
This buyer has taken an interesting approach by using the anchoring method. By showcasing a “value price”, they seek to anchor in the potential buyers mind the ‘true’ value of the car (KBB price perhaps...), a technique that can work in many occasions.
Typically, for this strategy to work, you need to set a price that doesn’t undermine the anchor price. Their real offer price is quite a bit lower than the anchor, in this case creating disharmony and begging many questions.
Is that ‘value price’ inflated? Completely made up - or based on a reputable source? If that’s what the car is worth, why is the sale price so much lower?
Because of the forum (windshield) there is little room for a story here. When you have more time to sell via a less constrained medium, it’s easier to use a dramatic anchor. Your pitch or story can be shaped to justify the anchor price, allowing for a transition to your offer price with more compelling rationale.
The moral is, if you are going to include an anchor price next to your offer price, think critically about the disparity between them. The greater the separation, the more time you need to explain it, and the more your audience will question BOTH prices.
Designing business and marketing strategies is a complicated endeavor, often muddled and ill conceived. One of the biggest challenges I overcome when coaching my clients on a new strategic direction is getting them to focus only on those things that will allow them to win where there competition can not.
To do this well, an organization must consciously decide what they WON’T do. These tradeoffs usually make or break a great strategic plan. The world’s leading authority on strategy, Michael Porter from HBS (you’ve heard of his “5 Forces”), believes this to be the crux of what allows competitive strategy to be possible and sustainable.
This is almost universally difficult for business leaders to agree upon and commit to, yet it's critical to their success. No one wants to admit defeat, and many businessmen and women still believe that deciding to stray from ‘doing what they have always done’, is a sign of failure. On the contrary, choosing what not to do free’s up more resources to focus on the right things, shows a willingness to learn from mistakes, and provides clarity of direction that can inspire the organization.
Deciding what NOT to do isn’t only critical in business strategy; politicians are well served to narrow their focus as well. Jon Huntsman and his team provide us with the perfect example as we march into tomorrows primary in NH.
Knowing that his rivals had the momentum, awareness, preference and funding to all but completely drown out his message in the first primary, he made a conscious decision to basically ignore Iowa altogether so he could focus his resources on NH. The results of the Iowa primary easily showcase this fact (less than 1% of voters chose him).
Huntsman has been much more visible across national media (and in NH) than he was in Iowa, due to his strategic decision to ignore the first primary of the year. By consciously deciding what he WOULDN’T do, he and his team were able to focus all their attention on where they thought they could make the biggest impact; to showcase that he is able to garner votes, if not win (Romney and Paul will most likely wind up 1 an 2).
Hunstman knows that if he is able to deliver his unique message in a focused arena, he has the greatest chance to make an impression...and thus, potentially gain as much attention coming out of NH as those that finish at the top of the polls. Imagine if he goes from >1% of the vote in Iowa, to, let’s say, 10% in NH? That would be a ten fold increase in votes, which may not simply show him off to more of the country, but compel his party to give him a second look. Without question a focused strategy, in part born from a clear decision of what not to do. (Editors note: Huntsman garnered 16.9% of the votes - but bowed out after the primary. Knowing when to cut your losses is equally important).
The next time you're struggling to figure out how to develop your business, learn a new craft, win an election, or simply improve in any area you work or play, try first starting with what you won’t do. You’ll be surprised by where that leads you.
A few quick thoughts about problem employees:
Failing to address and remove a problem employee says more about you (and your brand), then you might think. Since a brand is a set of assumptions and beliefs in the consumers mind about what you stand for, one bad apple can indeed ruin the bunch!
For you: They sap your resources, energy and time, distracting you from doing great work. They send off signals to your team that you are either unwilling to act, oblivious, hand-strung, conflict avoidant, etc.... or worse, you condone their performance.
For your brand: Problem employees generally share their ilks with their peers, customers, partners and colleagues. It's not only a reflection on them and their manager, but the corporation and brand that employees them both. NEVER a good way to build brand equity, develop team morale, or focus the troops on your strategic plans.
The sooner you eliminate the problem, the better. You will rally your team by eliminating the negative energy, freeing you to find the next superstar while allowing you to work smarter not harder.
Ultimately, problem employees leave anyway. The question is, will your company, job, division or brand go with them??
As a golfer, I can't help but be distracted this time a year. Since golf is on the mind, I thought I'd outline the synergies between the game and the discipline of marketing. Both take precision, patience and a little luck. Here's how they intersect.
Have a GAMEPLAN:
Each elite golfer at the US Open has planned weeks in advance for this tournament, even considering when and how often to play leading up to the event. They've detailed how they will play each hole; which clubs to carry in their bag, when to take their chances and what club to hit depending on tee and pin placement.
Businesses of course should do the same; yet most small businesses operate without a clear marketing plan. No plan = desperate stabs in the dark to grow your business. Think like a tour pro, understand your course, and develop the right strategies and tactics for the job.
With that in mind, GET A COACH:
The majority of tour pro's will have a coach with them, or at the very least, a close advisor who can be a credentialed guide to help them hone their swing and formulate a gameplan. Ever present is their on course coach, their caddie, who keeps them on track and assists as needed.
You too should have a coach! Trying to make smart decisions about how to optimize your limited budget is nearly impossible if you aren't skilled in the art of marketing. Find someone who can help you formulate a smart strategy and help you select the right tools and tactics to maximize your ROI, no matter your budget.
COMMIT to the shot:
The best golfers are the ones that do this well. They know they are prepared, have studied the elements, and visualize their next stroke. Then, they commit to that shot 100%.
Once you have a marketing plan you are confident with, execute with precision and confidence. Many companies end up paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake or wasting money. If you've got a smart plan, don't hesitate. Act!
ADAPT to changing conditions:
Sun, wind, rain, bad lies, poor play, a loose swing, slow partners, a tweaked wrist... the best PGA pro's are ready for anything that might come their way. Their planning and practice has prepared and conditioned them to accept, adapt and move on from any adversity they might face.
No marketing plan is perfect. You'll need to make changes along the way, pouring more money into the things that work, and quickly killing any strategies and activities that are no longer relevant or producing results.
Listen to any of the top 5 players in the world and you'll recognize one thing unanimously; humble confidence. While they have found much success through hard work, they know they are just one bad round away from losing a tournament, or falling back in the rankings. The game can bite you quick if you don't respect it. That's why they constantly monitor their swing and test new equipment well in advance of putting it in play.
Things may be going well for your business now, but how will you grow your sales in the next 1, 3 or 5 years? It's easy to be 'fat on the calf' when things are good, but what about the future? (see: real estate before 2008). Be always mindful of how you will keep things fresh and interesting for your customers through innovation and attention to details.
Birdies are nice, but any pro will tell you that making par on every hole is a great way to excel on tour. The competition is fierce and there is a lot of parity in the game. Each entrant can win the US Open if they play steady, take smart chances and accept the set backs as they come. The winner could very well be the person who makes the least bogeys, not the most birdies.
Every business would like to have a "viral video", or execute a marketing idea that solves all their problems. It just doesn't work like that most of the time. It takes patience and a methodical approach to delivering a targeted and valuable product/service and brand message to the right audience. Have belief, be dilligent and don't get distracted from executing the little things that will add up to a big win in the end!
If you're looking for a good coach for your business, give me a call. Right after the US Open...
When PT360 came to me for help with positioning their brand, I had a hill to climb to get them to break away from the sameness pervasive in the physical therapy community. (disclosure: my wife is a partner in the business).
They are unbelievable care givers located in a great facility, with a strong passion for their patients wellness. Hmm....sounds like what every other physical therapy practice might claim to be...
While their name is clearly a nod to the breadth of their services, it doesn’t convey their uniquesnes as the only physical therapy cooperative in the area. This is what truly differentiates them in the marketplace; perfect for the "help your neighbor" culture prevalent in Vermont.
With each member an owner, they challenge each other daily to do the best for their patients, their practice and their partners. Add to this their philosophy of care: “We give our patients the skills to heal themselves”, and we have the ingredients of a fresh message.
After calculating the messaging of their competition, revealing their true point of differentiation, and honing their rational, emotional and cultural “reasons to believe”, I created a tagline that communicates their brand essence in a creative way, which inspires and imprints itself in their marketplace.
PT360 Better Together
They’re literally better together in a new practice of their own, pushing themselves to improve their skills day in and day out.
Matched with their philosophy of empowering their patients to heal themselves, the message, Better Together, offers a dual meaning that resonates with the team, and their clients. Short, sweet and to the point.
Retrospectively, it seems obvious.....right?
That’s when you know you have it nailed! It just makes sense, while being fresh and approachable - creatively describing their USP.
I love these projects, and can’t wait for the next one!
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I'll try and answer this one simply,though there is much depth to understanding the originality of brands. The following isa sketchpad overview, and extension of the post: The 3 Elements of a Great Brand
Brands are unique when they inspire, compell to action, and communicate valuable differentiation.
When they are accurately positioned in the marketplace via a fresh voice and inspired message, focused around a trend.
So, let's say you sell organic dogfood. Some elements of your brand might align with: health for your pet, good taste, perceived affluence, and earth friendly manufacturing practices. If no other brand is championing these things, and you are certain that your target market will find them appealing, then you have the start of a unique brand.
You then develop a mantra for your co./brand that epitomizes those critical elements of difference, then translate that into a unique message that conveys your point of difference in a remarkable way (as simple as a tag line, or broader communications that tell your story). While only a small part of "branding", this is the unique message you want your target market to remember, thus quite important.
The brand and company need a clear spirit and personality to display to the world when showcasing those brand elements; something that matches what your audience will be receptive to while providing flexibility for communicating each of the chosen brand elements.
Identity is critical, so a name and logo that match your brand promise and personality must be crafted with care (more about this another day).
Now, here's the scary part.
This is all simply a smart "strategy" to approach the market with.
Ultimately, the masses decide if your brand is unique, and it's your job to steer them to understanding via an unwavering focus on delivering brand experiences that resonate with your core message, personality and promise.
If you do this in creative, unpredictable (but consistent) ways, you'll have a better shot than most at developing a unique brand.
Many of my small business clients think they have no idea how to market themselves or their business. While they may lack the acumen to execute the perfect tactics, there are tenants of great marketing that anyone can easily learn and follow.
Off the top of my head, here are some to get you started. Please share your ideas for this list!
If you are asking the question, "when do I start branding".....the time has already arrived!
Assuming you have a viable business model (that should be your first priority), and a passion to bring your offering to the world, the branding process will focus your actions and set you up for success.
Something as "basic" as pricing, has huge implications for the perception of your brand. If you haven't begun the process, yet have set a price, you very well could be constraining your opportunity for success, or worse, creating a situation where you deliver conflicting messages to your market; a certain recipe for hard times.
Unless you have the most remarkable product in the world, that is easy to understand and solves a problem that has never had an answer (errr....a time machine perhaps), success is best achieved with a strategically crafted brand.
The sooner you have one to stand behind, the faster you can make contact with the outside world.
The competitors message might be true; but thankfully, positioning is more than simply a story of intent. While the corporate narrative is critical, more valuable are the subsequent stories of success that you acquire from doing business in a more remarkable way.The competition has communicated a particular mission, but, they have not shown the fruits of this labor via case studies, testimonials, examples of superior work, etc... to prove the words they have crafted for their website (the stock photo’s aren't helping either). All they have done is manufactured a message (as far as the outside world can tell).
So, the direction remains to follow our new mission, with a spotlighted emphasis on bringing the exceptional results to life throughout all the chosen marketing venues. In a short amount of time, our message will "look" much different than the hollow facade presented by the competition.
When you relay your successes in a manner that reflects your brand personality, it strengthens your positioning, the trust in your story, and the reason you should be chosen above your competition. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of hot air.
Actions really do speak louder than words.
Have thoughts on this topic? Let me know!
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To build a great brand, you MUST focus on connecting the 3 elements that make up the foundation of great brands.
When positioning and communicating your product/service/offer, you should consider:
The MIND. (there are practical reasons for someone to choose your brand. what are they?)
The HEART. (humans are sentimental. what sentiments do you connect to?)
The LIFESTYLE. (what's happening in the world that is fresh, and which you can align with?)
Combine all 3 of these factors and communicate them in a unique, concise message.
Then do great things that make them come to life!
You'll be on your way to building a brand that is refreshing and new!
If I have wrapped my head around this correctly, what Daniel found (contrary to popular belief), is that experiences are NOT what make people most happy. It appears our memories of these experiences (which we judge them by) are what ultimately affect our happiness.
Our "experiencing self" and "remembering self" are closely linked, but report vastly different things. The remembering self tends to only remember what happened at the end, not the total experience.
Considering what this might mean for marketing and business (to say nothing of life in general), I can't help but think I should give more weight to the end of a customer or consumer experience.
While I am a believer in the edict, 'you only get one chance to make a first impression'.....
This talk by Daniel leaves me more concerned than ever with the fact: You only get one chance to leave a LAST impression!