“You Can’t Be in Two Places at Once”

episode #695 – March 13, 2022

HOST: Lorraine Ball

You can’t be all things to all people. When you try you end up with marketing that feels like a giant game of tug-of-war as you push and pull trying to fit into more than one niche in your customer’s mind.

the episode

To develop really effective marketing, you need to be clear about your brand position, what makes you uniquely qualified to earn the business of your customers. Look beyond the technical skills and product specifications to the intangible elements. What should customers think and how should they feel as they interact with the brand.

Sounds simple, but it isn’t. Being high quality, hardworking, offering leading-edge technology or providing good service are important but they are not things which really set a company apart. Why? Think about it, how often to you hear about a company which offers crappy service, high prices, poor technology or inferior products? These benefits put you on parity with everyone in your market. Your position statement must be more.

So the hunt for  something unique begins. Unfortunately, it’s hard work, and many companies take the easy road, trying to combine two or more benefits which really don’t go together. The result is marketing that feels like a giant game of tug-of-war, pushing and pulling as the brand tries to fit into more than one niche in a customer’s mind.

For example:

High fashion, low prices. Really? Is that a sale at Nordstrom or Walmart on a good day?  To stand out you need to lead with one or the other. Your focus will attract specific customers and turn off others. While the Nordstrom customer is happy to save a little money, they are unwilling to sacrifice quality. In contrast, the Walmart customer knows she is buying a knock-off and is fine with that, as long as the price is right.

There isn’t one right answer.  Both Nordstrom and Walmart run profitable businesses, but they do so by clearly staking out a unique position. What about you? Where do you fit in your marketplace?

You can be good at more than one thing.

Some companies have multiple stories to tell and combine elements in their position statement by selecting a primary and secondary position. Consider the following: 

Leading-edge technology solutions at affordable prices. Instead of driving people to your door, this promise makes them skeptical.  How do you get to that price? Where did you cut corners? When is the product going to fail?

Rewriting the statement with a primary and secondary benefit it becomes: We research the best technology alternatives and recommend the one that is right for your budget. The knowledge of technology is presented in service of the primary benefit of cost effectiveness. The tech support drives home the cost reduction message without sounding cheap.

It is time to stop trying to be all things to all people. Define your position and be really great at one thing


about the marketing minute

Each week, host Lorraine Ball shares just a few words on a marketing topic. She boils down creative ideas, practical tips, and decades of real-world experience into a mini podcast which is always less than two minutes.

Look for these mini bits of marketing inspiration every Sunday.  Then come back and enjoy the longer interviews every Thursday.

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