Tag Archives: al ries

Marketing’s “dirty little secret” – DISCIPLINE!

As we turn into the last month of the year, marketeers are busy finishing lose ends on current projects and beginning 2010 initiatives.  No doubt next year’s goals and objectives include a key word – “GROWTH.”  But, strategically speaking, there’s a “good” way to grow and then there’s a “bad” way to grow.  For the Marketeer, this usually leads to the everlasting balance between growth & discipline.

A “good” way to grow

Growth that is built on the strategic product positioning will lead to long-term growth.  But that is the KEY; it must be built on the positioning.  The trick then is to layer strategies and tactics that build on this positioning. This is really the idea behind value chains. 

A good way to grow can also be found in separate branding.  A brand stands for something or someone… if you want to grow beyond that, build another brand with a different positioning.  But be very, very clear in your messaging, this is a completely separate product. 

Yet another path to grow is through stronger communication of your differentiation.  Another way to think about this is focus.  Watch Growth through Focus by Al Ries (part 1 & part 2) – worth 15 minutes of your time. 

A “bad” way to grow

Unfortunately we see many more examples of companies attempting to grow the “wrong” or “bad way,” which highly correlates to the failure rates of businesses.  There are many failures to point to, but in my experience I’ve noticed a few mishaps reoccur:

  • The brand position is overstretched to the point that it becomes meaningless or confusing – can you say line extensions?
  • Core competencies are confused with strategy, particularly in companies led by operationally focused leaders.
  • Miscalculations of brand equity lead to brand dilution.
  • Pricing, rebates, bundling – same offense. 

The examples are endless.  Yet for marketeers, these maybe the “dirty little secrets.”  Because in our efforts to grow our businesses, we turn to these short-term activities to make our number – but in the process we DIRTY our brandsInterestingly enough, once you head down this path, it’s addicting, furthering the potential to corrupt your brand.   

7 Considerations for Marketeers

So what is a Marketeer to do when challenged to grow.  I’d say that the first word that should come to your head should be DISCIPLINE. 

Translate the growth challenge into a rallying cry for DISCIPLINED GROWTH by:

1.      Building longer & deeper value chains based on your current positioning. 

2.      Fiercely guarding the strategic positioning of your brand, fending off short-term thinkers in your organization.

3.      Develop separate or related branding schemes that capitalize on your brand but do not dilute it.

4.      Reinforce your product’s differentiation in a deeper, stronger way. 

5.      Fine tune segmentation, less is more in this case. 

6.      Acquire products or build partnerships that have equity in the space you’re attempting to penetrate.

7.      Have the courage to say “no” to strategies and tactics that will yield a short-term win, but a long-term disaster. 

Yes, I know, this is easier said than done, that is why I call it D I S C I P L I N E, because it requires sacrifice and trade-offs.  After 17 years of experience, I also know we all have done it at one point or another, hence, it is “the dirty little secret.”

Good marketing!