In this episode Jeff continues to share his insights and experiences on how Step Change Marketing used predatory marketing to gain market share from their key competitors and how you as a small or medium business owner can do the same.
In the previous post of this series, ‘How the Robin Hoods of marketing give small businesses a fighting chance’, I promised to roll out a case study that we actually did for ourselves. I want you to know that when it comes to spending our own money, these are the sorts of decisions that we make for us, and you will also be able to see the results.
‘Stop Working with Wankers’ case study
The case study I am referring to is a campaign we ran for ourselves called "Stop Working with Wankers".
Our problem - we were basically post-GFC. We started a consultancy and we thought we were pretty good but we had no clients, no money and no idea, and we needed to grow very, very quickly. To do that, of course, we needed staff. The problem was that almost no one in the industry wanted to work with an “unheard-of” without any large, glorious clients.
We wrote a couple of small-space ads, we put ads up on the local trade press, and we got about four responses. We needed a lot more than that, and the quality of those responses unfortunately left us wanting.
We got to the end of the first coffee interview, and we thought, “Maybe they should be paying for the coffee”. The quality was very, very low, and we knew that we had to change the game. If we didn't get top-tier people into our consultancy and fast, then we were going to fade and be crushed under the weight of the work that we were winning.
Using predatory marketing thinking, we had to find the strength of our key competitor and then the weakness that fell out of that. In this instance, the competitor was the other advertising agencies. They had all the great brands, they had all the great people, they had the great pay packets, and they were perceived to be a much safer and smarter option.
The weakness that came out of their model was that they liked to put people in very small boxes with very large job titles. In fact the average work hours, the way people were treated, and the politics within those organisations made them pretty unpleasant to work for. That was our insight. Basically, ‘Stop working with wankers, Step Change is a better place to work’!
When people watch that clip, what they'll see is a whole lot of ad industry in-jokes about how and why these places are unpleasant to work for, and the types of personalities that everyone's met in the industry and no one wants to meet again. The idea was that although it was very, very targeted and there were a whole lot of in-jokes, we only needed to speak to about 5,000 people within the industry in Sydney. We actually managed to get 16,000 to 17,000 views across the globe within the first two weeks.
The reason we got so many hits was because we struck a chord. People knew that these places were tough and hard to work for, and they knew the conditions weren't great. In a fun way, we were able to strum their pain and move a lot of people that probably considered themselves to be happily employed. We managed to bring them into the market and get them to consider a job with us.
We had so many responses of such high calibre that we ran a group interview which was skills-based, on a Saturday, and we had a couple of people fly up from Melbourne just for the opportunity.
It took us from nowhere to somewhere very quickly. In the first two weeks, there was $135,000 worth of equivalent media value across the 26 blogs that we managed to get coverage on. They saw it, they liked it, and they gave us a call. It's still working for us four years later.
We have had many people try to copy it, but it's one of those things where you do actually want professionals to have a look at that sort of thing, especially when comedy is involved.
We were very lucky. We had a very talented comedian and filmmaker, Dan Erich, who is a good friend of my business partner, Ashton. He helped us with the script, shot it and then edited it as well. Although we got it done very cheaply, for just a couple of cases of beer at the time, it certainly had top key talent on it, from the writer Tom Glassen, who is absolutely gifted; right through to Dan Erich.
Is video a good way to get your message out there?
Video is almost a must these days, and certainly a lot of the barriers in terms of cost, editing and professionalism have been taken out of it. It's very rare that we come across a business where video couldn't help them communicate what it is that they do.
The thinking that sits behind it and probably what's missed is that it's very hard to understand the value in video when it's just sold as an outcome like that. What sits behind it, though, is actually a piece of research where the outcome is that the message you tell in your medium is six times more powerful than the media.
In other words, put in a very practical way, a billboard with the wrong thing on it will get zero results, and a billboard with the right thing on it will get good results. Video is a really powerful way to tell your story in a short, impactful and engaging way, and get it right every time.
With so many small businesses out there relying on referrals and relying on word of mouth, you need to give your customers the tools to refer you as well. Rather than trying to train every customer to sell you well, which is a very hard thing to do, business owners spend many hours a month and many hours over the life of their business learning to sell themselves well. It's much better to just get it right the first time and put it in the hands of people, so they can share it quickly, easily and effortlessly.
The 5 step process to a predatory marketing campaign
Here we are at the 5 step process which you can go through to find out who your biggest competitor is, what their greatest strength is, and how you can create a campaign based around what the weakness is that arises out of that?
1. Get your message absolutely right and absolutely clear
The very first step is make sure you're very clear on your message - on the feature, the benefit and the implication relative to your competitor. How well do you perform against them? How important are they to your customers?
Once you understand your own messaging and can explain not just the feature but the implication that comes from it as well, then you're ready to message.
After that, there are four questions you should ask and the answers to these questions are simple but not easy.
2. Who is your greatest competitor?
Write down everyone within your category. When it comes to marketing, for instance, there are direct competitors and there are also places people might spend their marketing dollars. If not with a consultancy, they might spend it directly with a media owner to get coverage.
They might go direct to a radio station, so that can be a competitor as well. You need to list all of them and then you need to ask which competitor is the easiest for you to grow at the expense of. Which competitor is your messaging the most powerful against?
Does that competitor or that segment or that category have enough customers in there for you to grow at the expense of? Obviously, if you've got an 80 percent share of your market and you try and steal from a competitive category that has a 1 percent share, you can only grow by 1 percent, so you want to make sure that the slice of the pie you're going for is big enough and juicy enough to grow your business.
You then pick one competitor at a time (have at least 5) and prioritise them so that you've got the one that you think customers will be most attracted from that has the right type of customers going in and out of them.
3. What is their greatest strength?
What does each competitor do amazingly well? I'll give you an example. If I happen to be Burger King, my competitor might be McDonald's. Yes, it makes sense that I could switch customers from them, and absolutely they're the market leader so their segment is big enough and juicy enough for me to have customers from.
I then ask what their greatest strength is. The answer we get time and time again with McDonald's is that their strength is consistency, right? You know exactly what type of cardboard you're going to get, no matter whether you're in Istanbul, America or Australia.
4. What is the weakness that comes from that specific strength?
You then ask yourself ... and this is very important ... what are the weaknesses that come from that greatest strength? Not what are their weaknesses ... that's easy. You could just say McDonald's isn't healthy, but really what is the weakness that comes from their greatest strength.
If the strength is consistency, the weakness that comes out of that is that it can be a little bit boring. The market segment that eats, overwhelmingly, the most fast food, happens to be 16 to 24 year olds. Self-expression to this audience is absolutely of prime importance. They are all being different so going from consistency to the fact that it's all the same can be very compelling for this audience.
5. What are your relative advantages?
You look at the relative advantages then for Burger King, and you find out that they got very, very good at taking out the tomato, putting in extra sauce, and changing the pickle. The idea and the positioning that took them from absolutely nowhere to the overwhelming global number two was "Have It Your Way."
You can go in and have your Whopper with extra sauce, with a pickle or without a pickle, whichever way you want it. Of course, that positioning which comes from a functional process change in the business is very, very rich when you're talking to these 16 to 24 year old males who just want to be individuals.
Once you have gone through this 5 step process you can then start to brainstorm what specific opportunities there are that fall out of this strategic thinking.
In the next post of this series I’m going to give you a couple of tips on how to market your message so please check back soon to find out more about how you can use predatory marketing to gain market share from your key competitors.
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