Take one look at the steeply rising cost of advertising on all media, it’s a wonder any entrepreneurs and small businesses even attempt to advertise at all.
While the barrier to entry is universally lower, the cost of delivering your message to a person is significantly higher. The competition is intense. The attention spans are ever shortening, and the frequency required to keep your USP in your audience’s minds is staggeringly high.
Combine the three factors…
1. Low attention spans
2. Higher cost for delivering a message due to intensity of competition
3. Larger number of contacts required to establish your message
And what you have is a situation where it takes a lot more money to even tell people what it is that you do through advertising. And even when you do, they just aren’t going to remember it.
See… If I said, “I am a consultant” nobody would remember me. Why? Because I am not the first consultant in the world. Nor am I the last. I am certainly not the largest consultant in the world. There is nothing specific about the title of a consultant. It doesn’t even state who I consult for.
Now if I said, “I am a marketing consultant for manufacturing companies with less than 100 employees” I’d have much better mental retention, at least amongst my clients – the owners/leaders of manufacturing companies with less than 100 employees in this hypothetical example.
Just by entering a subcategory (Marketing Consultant for Manufacturing Companies -> Marketing Consultant for ‘small’ Manufacturing Companies with less than 100 employees) of a subcategory (Marketing Consultant -> Marketing Consultant for Manufacturing Companies) of a subcategory (Consultant -> Marketing Consultant), I have become perhaps the only seller in my field. It’s a blue ocean, and hunting is easy.
And while a Google search for “Marketing consultant for manufacturing companies with less than 100 employees” presents 4.76 Milion results, none of those results is specifically relevant.
While my audience is unlikely to go to Google and search for this exact keyphrase (they’d be more likely to search for just “marketing consultant” or maybe “marketing consultant for small business”… and consequently while Google may not be the best place for me to find my clients… I could always get a list of owners of successful manufacturing companies with less than 100 employees. I could even specify what “successful” means to me. I could have said I only want companies with $3,000,000.00 in revenues or more, for smaller companies just wouldn’t be able to afford my services.
Then I could target just those people.
I would tell them, “I am a marketing consultant for manufacturing companies with less than 100 employees.” I’d have their attention immediately. Why? Because I’d be the one and only.
And each submarket continues to splinter into categories and subcategories. Shoes got splintered into sports shoes and formal shoes. Sports shoes (or sneakers) got splintered by function (shoes for basketball, shoes for baseball, shoes for running, etc.)
If I were to create a brand today that sold only running shoes, and if I were to market it well, I’d have a distinct advantage over Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Puma in that particular subcategory. Why? Because of mind space. Because of how humans think.
If I asked you to name Pizza companies, you’d say…
2. Pizza Hut
3. Papa John’s
4. Maybe another one or two – for me it’s the dirty 99c slice outlets scattered throughout NYC, and Slice of Italy – a local Indian brand.
Your mind can hold no more than two to four companies in each category. Pizza is a category.
But our minds can not differentiate between a category and a subcategory. It’s all the same. As far as mental classification is concerned, pizza is not the same as gourmet pizza. Gourmet pizza is not the same as Frozen microwavable gourmet pizza.
If you created a company selling gourmet pizza, and marketed it aggressively to the right crowd, you’d definitely have the upper hand over companies and chefs who truly do have even better quality and taste than your own gourmet pizza.
The easiest way to get mindshare is to do something others aren’t doing. Or at least, many others aren’t. And the simplest way of doing that is market splintering. Going into a submarket of the market that you can possibly serve, but will fail to get the attention of because of the following two reasons:
1. Other companies already have mindshare in that market
2. Cost of advertising to such a large market in such a competitive environment would be impossible for you to bear.
As you might know, I am the world’s leading strategic systems architect. I build automation systems for successful SME’s. Systems that grow a business with inevitability through automation.
My audience is comprised of owners and leaders of SME’s with revenues between $3,000,000 a year and $50,000,000.00 a year. As of now, I can reach 20,000 such people on Facebook. There are quite a few business systems experts out there, but they work with larger companies. Typically those doing at least $100,000,000.00 a year or more. I am the only one doing it for SME’s. Or at least the only one doing it well.
Like I said, 20,000 people in my audience can be reached through Facebook alone. And I could reach each and everyone of them once a day for the rest of the year without putting a very serious dent in my marketing budget.
In other words, I could show my ad to my potential audience 300 times a year, and tell them about what I do. I could also show them, within those ads, how well I do what I do – by linking to case studies and testimonials from existing clients. I could also show them what my existing clients are saying about me. Every time I get mentioned in media, I could advertise that. Every time I write a book, I could advertise that.
But with a message like, “We build automation systems that help SME’s grow hands-free.” I don’t really need to do a lot to attract clients. Sooner or later, everyone in my market will know what I do, and who to go to… whenever they are ready for automating their marketing.
In fact, instead of advertising “We build automation systems that help SME’s grow hands-free.” I could advertise “Why you should build automation systems into your small or medium business today.” I could be a champion of the industry, and when my audience is ready to systemize their company and take it to the next level, who do they go to? Me, of course.
Now, when I talk about the “right to market”, I do realize that anyone with a wallet can advertise pretty much any message they want. Everyone has the right to spend their money any way they want.
But most people waste money on ineffective advertising, and there’s no getting around that fact. Listen, if you are advertising anything other than your brand’s USP, you are doing it wrong. At least for the most part, when you advertise to your prospective audience (not to be confused with your past or existing clientele) your message should be simple… A reinstatement of your USP in as many ways as you can.
Sure, a percentage of your advertising revenue will still go towards selling an entry level product or service, or towards promoting a lead magnet, for instance a book… but even still all these products, services, lead magnets and books have one objective – to reinforce your brand.
From the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene:
SO MUCH DEPENDS UPON REPUTATION – GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE
Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once it slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them.
A brand is nothing more than reputation for doing something. Your answer to the question, “What do you do?” is the definition for your brand. The structure of this answer is, “I do X for Y.” X is a competency, and Y is an audience.
Speaking of reputation…
Reputation, as Greene rightly says, is the cornerstone for power. This power easily manifests itself in the form of hand in the arena of buyer-seller interactions. There is no need for negotiations or discounts once the seller has an unassailable reputation in the form of a brand.
If you were the first wedding photographer, you’d have had a serious advantage in marketing. You could say, “Why you should hire a pro wedding photographer for your dream wedding” and attack the general purpose photographers who also do weddings amongst many other things.
Today, however, that market is swarming with photographers who do only weddings. So, how do you differentiate? One way would be targeting a submarket. Like “Seaside wedding photographer” or “Mountain weddings photographer” or “Celebrity wedding photographer” like Joe Buissink does.
Another way would be targeting an attribute. For instance, doing landscape work and street photography, and combining it with wedding photography, like Marcus Bell does.
Not a lot of photographers have the skill, inclination or patience to do what Bell does, and so Marcus is pretty much the king of the hill if a bride-to-be has her eyes set on photography like that.
I have heard people say “I’d rather get 0.1% of a Billion Dollar market than get 80% of a $5 Million market.” And they would be right… except why would 0.1% of those Billion Dollars flow to you, and not the pre-established empires in that market – if not for some differentiating factor that gives you a perceived leg up over those companies?
Why do I sometimes buy coffee from indie coffee shops instead of Starbucks?
Because I believe the coffee shop I patronize serves fresher, and honestly better tasting coffee than the chains. It’s perception, of course. And they are not marketing it well at all, or they could quadruple their business over night, and become 1000x larger within a few years. For the coffee market is truly wide open for anyone willing to run with the tagline “Our coffee actually tastes good.”
Sure, this little coffee joint advertises through local postcards and pamphlets. But what they do advertise is a sale, or a special discount. What they ought to advertise instead is the taste and freshness.
Because that would create a brand.
Because that would create a reputation.
And so long as they could maintain the reputation for tasty coffee, they’d be poised for rapid growth.
Mindshare comes from advertising your brand. Your brand is essentially what you do differently. It’s the answer to a prospective customer’s unmistakable question, “Why you?”
When your answer to that fundamental question becomes more exciting than all your competitors, you have a right to advertise.