Which sounds healthier to you:
A ribeye steak that’s 90 percent fat-free, or a ribeye steak containing 10 percent fat?
For most people, something that’s 90 percent fat-free sounds much healthier than something that contains 10 percent fat, even though they are the exact same fat content.
When someone is presented with the 90 percent fat-free label, they focus on the fact that 90 percent of that steak does not contain any fat. However, when they are faced with a label by itself with no reference point that says it contains 10 percent fat, 10 percent all of a sudden seems like a much larger number.
What this example shows you, when it comes to statistics, is the power of framing. As it relates to Marketing, this concept goes perfectly with Unique Brand Positioning.
In my post How to Dominate Your Market, I talked about the unique opportunities that businesses have to create a sub-market within their service areas. For example, a corporate law firm could have many divisions covering a wide variety of legal services, ranging from Trademark law to Mergers & Acquisitions. However, for a legal firm to try and grow their client list, they would need to find some differentiating factor about their firm that they can build a marketing message around.
With a sector such as Corporate Law, it’s almost impossible to differentiate yourself from the rest of your competition since most of your competitors most likely offer the same range of services that you do, and most likely share some of the same accolades. So how does a Corporate Law firm stand out amongst a sea of look-a-likes? By using clever Brand Positioning.
The firm can choose their practice area that they are best at and build their strategy around it. Let’s say they excel at Financial Restructuring. This firm no longer needs to prove to everyone in the market for a corporate law firm that they are the best corporate law firm in town, they now only need to prove to people who are in the market for a firm to help them with their financial restructuring that they are the best law firm in town when it comes to financial restructuring.
By shifting the focus, the firm no longer has to answer questions and prove themselves against all the other firms that operate under the banner of “Corporate Law.” They can now own the sub-market of “Financial Restructuring” and put all of their marketing energy and resources into showing prospects why they are absolutely the best choice for that particular practice area.
In effect, you take your company from being a general Jack-of-all-trades to being a highly specialized and focused powerhouse. Once you have been successful in establishing the high-quality in one sub-market, you can continue to demonstrate your quality in other areas. Eventually, people begin to link your reputation for high-quality across all areas, which leads to overall prestige. After all, Apple Computer started off building personal computers, but who questions them when they decide to roll out a Smart-Watch? No one, because by owning several sub-markets and establishing the Apple brand as synonymous with excellence and quality they have expanded their brand beyond their original sub-markets.
So how do you choose which aspect of your business to build your marketing message around? Think of when you’re at that crucial point in a meeting with a prospective client and you go to that one powerful statement that really shows why your company is the real deal:
“Mr. Prospect, when it comes to Interior Design, our team has so much experience that we have a proven system in place that has allowed us to help hundreds of companies in far less time than it takes our competitors, ultimately saving our clients a lot of money.”
Now you can transform that into a message such as: Interior Design done right in less time.
From that point on, everything you use in your marketing should position your brand uniquely and convince potential prospects that your company is the best choice if they are looking for an Interior Design company that will work quickly.
There’s plenty of other angles a brand can take. Your company can position its brand as the highest quality choice, the most premium choice or you can choose a more unique angle such as only offering hand-made goods. There’s no limit to potential creativity with this, as long as it’s something that makes your brand more relevant to your customers and their needs.
The key from this point on is delivering on the expectations your marketing creates. In my post, Combatting Buyer’s Remorse, I explain that one of the most important goals of your marketing should be to set expectations that your company will actually meet or exceed. If you position yourself as the Interior Design company with quick turnaround time and the project drags on far longer than you originally quoted, your customers will be even angrier because you specifically earned their trust through the idea that your service was timely. Anything less than stellar customer service and following through on your promises will be seen as a deplorable bait and switch.
Think about Jack in the Box fast food restaurant, one of their taglines is “We don’t make it ’til you order it.” This is important because Jack in the Box is one of the slowest as it relates to time spent waiting in the drive through to receive your order (opinion based on personal experience.)
However, this is fine with most loyal Jack in the Box customers because they don’t expect their food to get to them faster than other fast food restaurants, they expect the food to be hot and fresh when they get it. As long as Jack is delivering on the promises they make, customers will continue to be satisfied.
On the other hand, if Jack in the Box claimed to be “Faster than McDonalds,” they would have the most unsatisfied customer base in the entire fast food industry, and customers would feel like they had been lied to.
Again, the key is finding an area of your business that you actually do excel at. Start with that, and then build your messages around that. If your business doesn’t excel at anything then you need to spend some time on the operations side of your business and figure out a way to offer your customers something exceptional. I believe that most businesses in the U.S. and Europe who are actively trying to grow do in fact excel in at least one thing.
The trick for an effective brand position for your company that will attract the right kind of customers is finding the way to explain that one thing to your potential customers in a way that’s relevant to them and their needs.
Marketing is not rocket science. It’s all about finding effective ways of communicating with real people and allowing them to come to logical conclusions about your brand on their own, in which they realize your company can help them meet their needs.
Citation: Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing by Douglas Van Praet. Chapter 9: Step Six: Change the Associations, Section: Cognitive Reframes and Judo Flips