I know I want one
The Mini is perhaps the best example of terrific product marketing this year. In an industry that regularly resorts to making the exact same television advertisement as everyone else (a car driving quickly down a windy road with a popular 80's song playing in the background,) the Mini has stood out.
Every element of their campaign has been spectacular. The car was prominent in a blockbuster movie, demonstrating its agility and fun to millions of captive moviegoers. Their print advertising was unique, featuring cutouts you could fold into miniature...uh, Mini's. Their product is amazing, winning dozens of awards for its peformance and serving as a drive-by billboard for anyone who sees one.
Even their site is brilliant. They recently nabbed the Webby Business Award for their site. Here's what the judges said:
"MINI USA's site is unlike any other automotive resource on the Web. It exudes personality and - through animations and games - has an almost infectious spirit. But these elements don't get in the way of more goal-directed customers. The site is easy to navigate, whether you want to customize your MINI or find a local dealer. On the creative side, the site earns high points for visual design, interactivity, functionality and content. Strategically, the site reflects the MINI brand identity perfectly and raises the bottom line - they sold out year 1 inventory of 30,000 cars and actual sales have excedeed forecast by 25%."
These guys get it. Do you?
There's a terrific new blog featuring Tom Peters, David Weinberger and others. They're trying to flip the traditional magazine business model on its head - creating a blog first to get people interested, and then creating a magazine to sell to the already converted.
I love this kind of thinking - give your stuff away first, prove your worth, and then ask for support. I hope they do well.
Catching More Worms By Exploiting Your "First-Ness"
"The early bird gets the worm."
It's a cliche. But cliches generally get started for a reason.
In the ultra-competitive contemporary business environment, there is a decided advantage associated with being first to market. According to a study on market entry published in Marketing Science, the second company to bring a new product or service to market can only expect 71% of the revenues generated by the first mover. Sales get progressively worse from there, with the third company generating a paltry 58% of the first company's numbers.
Some companies think that it's better to wait for the first-mover to get the bugs worked out before joining the fray. And while there could be a certain amount of truth to that assertion (the Apple Newton's failure and the Palms subsequent success is perhaps the most glaring example,) being first remains a very enviable position, in spite of the pains that come with it.
It's extremely difficult to be the only one who does what you do, even for a brief period of time. So any time the opportunity presents itself to be first, a company should jump at it.
How can the average company take advantage of this? Most companies aren't fortunate enough to have a world-changing invention in their hands. But that doesn't necessarily mean they can't market themselves as being first at something. The following are some brief tips that can help you achieve a measure of "first-ness."
First in Industry
Companies often become so entrenched in their industry battles that they fail to take the time to look at other industries in search of opportunities. The fact is that in any given industry, a company can glean some valuable ideas on products, operations or marketing.
Spend some time browsing through trade publications in an industry completely unrelated to yours. See if you can identify some industry best-practices that you could apply to your own company. If you feel led, contact the company and ask to speak with someone responsible for the program. In many cases, they'll be more than happy to talk to a curious person in an industry that is not competing with them.
You don't have to be the first company in the world to use some revolutionary system for customer service. Being first in your business would be newsworthy and could potentially jump-start sales.
An easy way to create "first-ness" would be to take two skills or characteristics of your company and combine them. The first company to offer overnight delivery and a price-match guarantee would still put you in very exclusive company.
Write down everything your company does. Include products offered, important selling points, any benefits or unique services you include in your offering, etc. Spend some time thinking about which combination of these would provide the most compelling story. It shouldn't be ridiculously hard - most companies have a couple interesting or appealing things to say about themselves. If yours doesn't, you should probably consider a new line of business.
Get The Word Out
Once you've defined your compelling "first-ness," be sure to put it in all of your literature, and make it a big part of your sales cycle. It doesn"t need to be your most compelling positioning statement, but it helps to include these on any marketing message that provides the opportunity for a little more explanation.
Even if the "first-ness" doesn't directly lead to more business at first, folks will eventually remember you, particularly when your competition begins offering it (which, if it's even remotely successful, they will.) The only way for everyone to know that you were first when the competition begins to copy is to market your "first-ness" immediately and consistently.
If you're lucky, your "first-ness" will become the key to explosive revenue generation. In most cases this won't happen, but having one more point of difference in your arsenal will still help you grab more worms than you do now.