By D’Arcy Rahming
I just watched a You Tube video with a marketer that I used to follow, and came away completely disgusted. The video showed him flashing wads of cash, driving a top-line Mercedes, and basically flaunting his wealth. A vulgar rap song played in the background, and I thought to myself: “What did I ever see in this person?” And then it dawned on me. He was being deliberately polarising to break away from the crowd.
Someone out there is very attracted to his foolishness, including the music, the vulgarity, and mostly the cash and lifestyle. He apparently has found a niche that I definitely do not belong in, and that is why I was repelled by his message. However, in truth, I had not bought any of his products or services for a long time because they seemed the same as everyone else’s. So he had revamped his marketing message to make himself more distinctive. Which brings me to the point of this article: A strong marketing message will repel as many people as it will attract.
The worst thing that can happen to you as a marketer is to be so much the same as everyone else that you blend right into the crowd. Christmas is a time when you really see this in action. Many of the ads look exactly the same: Santa, snowflakes, etc. The problem with this is that when your product is perceived to be the same as your competition, people tend to shop on the basis of availability and price.
When you use the availability and price strategy, you’d better have some deep pockets because your margins are going to be thinner, and you will need a lot of inventory if you manage to attract that crowd. Now the same thing is true for service businesses. If you are going to adopt a low price strategy, you are going to need a lot of volume. So, let us say that you were offering a deal on Christmas haircuts. To increase your “inventory” levels you would need more barbers in your shop or to work longer hours.
I think it is better to go after a niche and break away from the crowd. Continuing our barber example, your niche might be school boys from government schools to give haircuts to. Then you offer a bonus that affects only them, or rather the person who pays for the haircut. Like a free exercise book with each haircut. This might turn away a middle-aged man who is looking for a shave, but if you threw in a free shave for dads and granddads as an additional bonus, you will gain some extra business.
For me it is a much better strategy than just offering cheap haircuts. You only need to look at the Yellow Pages and you will see what I mean by sameness. But a small warning. When you break away from the crowd, you will be criticised as you leave others behind.
• NB: D’Arcy Rahming holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. A lecturer at the College of the Bahamas, Mr Rahming has clients in general insurance, retail, the health and medical fields, sports federations and financial services. He is also treasurer of the Bahamas Olympic Committee. To receive his marketing newsletter FREE go to http://darcyrahming.com