There is a staggering amount of
choices we make every day when we shop. Whether its clothes, electronics or
food, we are confronted with what feels like unlimited options. Yet most of us have just a few
brands we navigate toward in most categories. We group together what we
marketers call, ‘the consideration set’ which is comprised of our range of
choices. So your consideration set for wine might consist of 5 brand name that you switch among when you shop all in a similar price range.
If the category is clothes, we may wear one brand when we want to stay
youthful while we migrate toward another when we want to be seen as chic. In
food and beverage, which is my world, I’m always fascinated how we make our
Switching brands is very difficult
to do. How many of us still use the same brand of toothpaste we used as kids?
If you drink carbonated soft-drinks, are you still drinking Coke (or Pepsi)
because that’s what you always drank?
Of the choices we make, most occur
at an unconscious and auto-pilot mode. We see a wall of craft beers, but tend
to choose among a few. There are countless Cabernet on the shelf, but we tend
toward a few familiar brands that make it into our shopping cart.
For marketers, the question is how
we can influence the consumer to get into their consideration set. What can we
do to stand out among the crowded competitive marketplace?
Although many would still argue
that it takes advertising to motivate people, I still believe the most powerful
tool is harnessing a trusted recommendation from a friend. I overhear this in
the aisle of most supermarkets or even at wine shops, where one person will say
to their shopping companion, I’d like to try this salad dressing (soup,
cracker, cookie, cereal, chardonnay, etc.) because my sister (friend, teacher,
cousin, co-worker, neighbor, rabbi or coach) told me he/she loves it. I see this in my own purchases and in the research I read on consumer behavior. I’m convinced it is the
least understood of marketing tools and still significantly under utilized.
If you are struggling in a
category with an overwhelming numbers of competitors, what are the activities
you can do to harness word of mouth?
- Do you enable storytelling and
sharing throughout your online activities?
- Are your promotions geared toward
spreading the word by your loyal users who are brand ambassadors? (IDEA - what if you gave away a post card with your product and asked the purchaser to send it to their friend describing their experience).
- Have you considered how important
it is to give customers a reason to tell your story of what you did that
delighted and amazed you? Did you package some extra wow into what you do or is it just another SKU?
- Can you find a way to re-purpose
money from one area, like advertising into message spreading opportunities that
harness the energy of your current customers? So much marketing is on default spending. What if you stopped going to trade shows and instead used those dollars to help customers tells stories about their great experiences using your brand.
- Are you really being useful to
your customers so they are talking to their friends about how their experience
made them feel, instead of talking about the technical facts about your
product? A hospital that provides an app for new parents to help them understand how to use a car seat is helpful and shared. It spreads the message about that hospital as caring without an ad explaining what types of procedures they do. Read Jay Baer's book Youtility for more ideas like this.
- Can you catch yourself in your own
‘marketing moment’ when you realize you have tried a new brand and loved it,
but learned of it from a friend or relative? Those ‘aha’ moments can help give
you confidence to try something new and difference that shifts the dynamic of
- What is something your competitors would never do on behalf of their brand? Is it something that your loyal customers will talk about on Facebook and share with friends? Does it tie-in with what your brand stands for at its core? Explore how you can make people feel different when they engage with your brand. Read Bernadette Jiwa's new book, Marketing, A Love Story for more ideas.
Since I work in the global wine industry,
I get to meet lots of winemakers, winegrowers and owners of small, mid-sized
and big brands. One of my favorite things to do is to buy the wines of people I
meet whose stories strike me and whose passion and dedication is so present
when you hear them tell their tales.
I love to drink a new wine brand and see if I can
taste their story in the wine. Does what
they say in person, transmute the taste, aroma and experience in the wine? And
what about winemaker’s who tell their stories in video online?
How are they
helping me experience how drinking their wine will make me feel and ultimately share it with a friend?
I love to give a wine to a friend when I have met the owner or winemaker. I can tell a story about my experience and share with them something unique about the taste and aroma I find in their brand. Sometimes, I can taste the generations of caring. And I know from personal experience, that many of those recommendations placed a new wine into my friend's consideration set.
Switching from brand A to brand B
is the goal for marketing in most categories. Getting your loyal consumers to share how it
makes them feel when they use your product, is really job #1. Scaling this activity can be the real challenge so that you are enabling larger groups of people to have you spread your message.
How are you putting a megaphone in your customer's hand?
Could you use help finding your brand 'switch' to help turn on 'word of mouth' marketing? Connect with me on Clarity and let's schedule time to talk.
Labels: bernadette jiwa, brand switching, consideration set, influencing consumers, Jay Baer, Marketing Moments, switch marketing, word of mouth marketing, Youtility