This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Marketing Plan" by William Luther. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Is your product struggling to sell? How do you want to stand out against your competitors?
It’s nearly impossible to find a market that has no competitors. Instead, you have to learn how to stand out from your competitors, using William M. Luther’s two methods in The Marketing Plan.
Read on to learn how to stand out against your competitors.
Two Methods to Stand Out From Competitors
There isn’t much point in going up against competitors that already dominate the market, because their position will be too strong to compete against. They’ll have the advantage of a favorable cost structure and will have the resources to quickly outmatch any strategies you use to gain market share.
(Shortform note: Luther implies that dominant competitors have more resources than you, therefore, you shouldn’t attempt to outmatch them. However, your chances of success aren’t as bad as he makes out. Some businesses use their resource limitations to inspire innovations that outperform strong competitors. For example, Southwest Airlines used its resource constraints to reposition its offering, differentiate itself from competitors, and become one of the most profitable airlines in the industry—proving that it is possible to go up against dominant competitors and succeed.)
Therefore, Luther suggests that you should use marketing strategies to differentiate yourself from the competition and establish your own unique position in the market. This involves marketing both your business and your products and services in a way that differs from your competitors and aligns with what customers most want.
To know how to stand out from your competitors, Luther suggests two methods: Define your brand’s personality and reinforce your marketing message. Let’s explore each of these methods in detail.
Method #1: Define and Promote Your Brand’s Personality
Luther suggests that you should consider how you want your customers to perceive your business and what will influence them to choose you over competitors and remain loyal to you. For example, if you intend to target eco-friendly consumers, you can appeal to them by ensuring that all of your operational procedures are as environmentally friendly as possible.
Then, look for ways to bolster customer perception by engaging in activities that will garner positive publicity. For example, eco-friendly consumers are more likely to buy from and remain loyal to companies that publicly show their support for environmental programs and sustainability projects.
(Shortform note: Marketing professor Byron Sharp (How Brands Grow) argues that the majority of consumers don’t care enough about branding for it to impact their purchasing decisions. This is due to over-saturated markets: There are simply too many brands trying to distinguish themselves and appeal to consumers. To cope with this influx of information, consumers completely filter out all of the brand messaging they encounter. So, even if you design your brand to appeal to your target market and garner positive publicity, it’s more than likely that your message won’t get past your audience’s mental filter.)
Method #2: Target and Reinforce Your Marketing Message
For each of your products and services, Luther argues that your marketing message should focus on the unique benefits that you’re offering in a way that appeals to your target market. This requires engaging in demographic and psychographic research to figure out what your potential customers’ interests and priorities are. Aligning your message in this way ensures two things: that your target audience will pay attention to your marketing message, and that they’ll immediately understand why your offer is superior to others in the market.
Once you’ve defined your marketing message, you should target the media that your potential customers engage with the most often, and ensure that all of your marketing materials reinforce the same benefits. According to Luther, reinforcing your message this way guarantees that customers will automatically associate your product or service with the fulfillment of their needs—thus helping you stand out against the competition.
(Shortform note: While reinforcing your marketing message will make it more memorable, one drawback is that you’ll find it difficult to reposition or reframe the benefits—something you’ll need to do if you intend to introduce your offer into different markets.)
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- How to hire the right people—and keep them
- How to share and reinforce your vision