Oct 30, 2012

Brand Strategy: Stick To Your Knitting

Many customers aren’t looking for the latest and greatest technology. They’re not looking for innovation, or even new ways to solve old problems. They’re simply looking for the best.

We’re all under pressure to innovate, and stay ahead of the curve. There’s a push “not to be left behind.” But in many industries this is a false pressure created by competition, not customer demand. I call these Technology Bandwagons.

In the late 90’s e-commerce was the hot topic. B2B manufacturers and distributors dove into the technology, and tried to innovate with how they engaged and sold to their customers. They thought they could replicate Amazon’s model of e-tailing for B2B purchases. They were wrong. Most of these projects failed, because customers didn’t accept them.

New is risky

Consumer electronics is driven by being different and unique, but professional services is a different story. What type of accountant are you looking for? An inventor or an expert?

In many industries, “new” is packed with risk. Customers look for competency and capabilities over new ways to do things. It’s a matter of trust. They have a need, and they want a competent expert they can trust to solve it.

What type of service are your customers looking for? The latest and greatest, or the reliable and expert?

Stick to your knitting

If your customers aren’t asking for “the new,” stick to your knitting. Do what you do best, and give them what they expect.

Being “the best” in your industry is often harder than being the most inventive. Being the best requires purposeful investment in your core skills and assets. For example, Zappos focuses on customer service, and they invest in this skill through their hiring practices, staff training, metrics, website, return policies, and on-and-on. They commit to being “the best” at customer service from top to bottom.

What does your company do extremely well? Are you the best in your industry at it? If not, what do you have to do to get there? If so, how do you maintain that position?

Be known for your expertise

Being the best isn’t enough. You’ve got to tell the world. We know Volvo is the best in automobile safety, because they focus their marketing on it. We know Zappos and Nordstroms are the best in customer service, because they tell us.

It’s not an accident when we associate a brand with a particular point of expertise. They commit to it. They invest in it. And they market it. They know, if they don’t blow their own horn, nobody will.

What’s your take?

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