By Olivia Roehm, Account Executive
I’m not arguing the need to keep track of what your competition is doing, but there is someone more important to focus on: your customer.
There are a number of items a company must track to reach growth goals. Identifying changes in the industry and competition will provide an understanding of what has changed for your business, new opportunities to reach your key audiences, and where you need to set your sights for future goal setting. However, the number one way that businesses are successful does not lie in stalking every move of your competition. It lies in your customer.
Understanding the needs and persona of your customer should be the focus point of all marketing moves. They are the ones that are purchasing and the ones that can and should be encouraged to become brand ambassadors for your brand. I’ve broken out this concept in a few ways below:
Building a Customer Profile
The first step to understanding your customer is to build out a profile for them. If you have a few different target audiences, build out a few different personas. These personas should include general demographics like age, gender, general income level, life stage, etc. It should also include interests and behaviors that you know about your customer, such as sports interest, going to the mall, or spending lots of time on YouTube. The most important part of this profile is where you determine the challenges your customer is facing. Identifying their needs is valuable for product development. Once this profile is (or several are) built out, they should be referenced frequently to be sure that progress toward business goals is keeping the customer in mind.
All Platforms Aren’t King
Diversifying a marketing budget does mean planning a number of ways you can reach your customer, but it doesn’t mean you should advertise on every platform. Your team should be often asking, “Where is our customer?” What platforms are your customers on? Where do they spend their down time? Sometimes finding the answer to these questions means testing on platforms you aren’t sure about. By all means, set up some test campaigns and understand whether it’s a valuable platform for your customers.
Remember the Greats and Employ a Blue Ocean Strategy
Every company faces challenges in reaching their audiences, and saturated markets calls for new ways to attack strategy. Leave the ‘red ocean’ and use the problems of your customer to inspire new heights for your brand. Blue ocean strategy means looking at an industry and identifying the expected offerings and experiences, and breaking those up to create a new norm for a particular product or service. The process includes 3 steps: eliminating or reducing some norms, raising the prominence of other norms that are less costly or more in demand, and creating or adding new features that bring a freshness to the product or service.
Here are a few companies who have employed blue ocean strategy successfully for inspiration:
- Cirque du Soleil – the company used to operate as a circus, complete with animals and star performers. They decided to ditch the high cost norms of a circus, eliminated animals and the variety of food and drink, increased sophistication of the show by raising the quality of acrobats and visual performance, and added dancing numbers and a storyline to the theatrical production. It is now one of the largest theatrical producers in the world.
- Netflix – the company began as a movie rental site, where you would get rentals shipped to you and ship them back. They also had a monthly subscription model. They decided to make a change with the times and launched streaming video; they reduced the price of watching movies, increased movie selection, and created the ability to watch from anywhere you had a device!
Your brand value proposition has to resonate with your audience. It can’t just be better than the competition. People will be loyal to brands who are actually understanding their pain points and developing meaningful solutions for them. Do this and you’ve got a head start to being better than the competition.