HOW TO POSITION BRANDS IN A CONVERSION-CENTRIC, OMNI-CHANNEL WORLD
Brand positioning is under enormous pressure these days. In our omni-channel, real time, content-driven marketplace, we need a new set of tools to establish a brand’s strategy and essence. As advertising and marketing budgets shift to conversion models and away from traditional advertising models, brand positioning has to adapt. So it is no surprise that brand teams are looking for a new blueprint.
The challenge is how to expand positioning in the new world order without throwing away tools that still work. By artfully blending old and new techniques we can drive conversions by interacting emotionally with our target audience.
Traditionally, CPG companies use well-established tools, such as the brand key, brand pyramid, brand bridge and the 50-word positioning statement, which are still important foundations for positioning. Retail and service brands also use frameworks, such as the brand house, to codify how a brand’s purpose is delivered across the product, voice and experience. The problem is that these basic structures don’t adapt quickly enough to today’s conversion models.
The problem is basic brand structures don’t adapt quickly enough to today’s conversion models.
PIONEERS IN CONVERSION-CENTRIC POSITIONING
To understand what is possible, look to QVC and direct marketing company Guthy|Renker, which set the bar for revolutionary brand positioning — leapfrogging over everything that was done before. In order to drive deep consumer involvement leading to repeat sales, they focus on 2-30 minute conversations with consumers. During those conversations they identify key moments when people are moved to take an action, which we call trigger points. Bare Escentuals was one of the first companies to effectively use this approach across multiple channels and media, which helps explain why Shiseido acquired it in 2010. (See the Fletcher Knight case study: Integrating Rituals and Spokespeople into Long-Format Positioning) Most CPG companies still believe that long-format positioning tools work very well in a multi-channel, rich media environment – note Unilever’s recent acquisition of Kate Somerville, skincare company.
HOW CAN YOUR BRAND EXPAND ITS POSITIONING STRATEGY?
The typical pathway to conversion for today’s consumer is a non-linear series of events that occur over an extended period of time. As a result, leading-edge tools have to fully codify consumer involvement, consideration, conversion and purchase. You are essentially analyzing the consumer’s experience of using your brand from start to finish. A simple and effective way to do that is to break the process down into three elements: “Involvement Drivers,” “Consideration Factors” and “Conversion Drivers.”
Determine what types of media content attract your target consumer, such as education, exploration, discovery, self-expression or entertainment. Then track the consumers’ journey across their entire experience of your category and identify needs that are trigger points, moments when you can tap a deep connection. This may sound obvious, but many brands make assumptions and don’t gather real knowledge about people’s true emotional and functional needs throughout their journey.
When your brand plays in the same space as others and targets similar consumers, this is especially important. In those cases, success often comes down to being best at:
• Understanding consumer needs across their journey.
• Knowing when the trigger points occur so you spend your marketing dollars at those points.
• Identifying what type of media content will be most effective.
Define what puts your brand into core consumers’ “credible consideration set” by examining the complete omni-channel experience and identifying which factors matter most to your audience. Factors could be objective comparisons, rankings, transparency, authenticity, credibility or endorsements.
Need an example? Tiffany has long used one-to-one CRM to build consumer relationships, but now it can expand beyond that to include how specific consumer segments relate to jewelry. Self-expressive consumers, for instance, often scan the market for new ideas and progressive jewelry styles, while traditionalists prefer to build an enduring legacy collection of jewelry. By understanding these specific segments, Tiffany can position itself in the credible consideration set for very different types of consumers.
Drivers linked to moment-of-truth conversions, such as immediacy, impulse triggers, limited-time availability, scarcity, and bidding pressure, are usually the domain of promotions and sales teams. But consumer insights teams can get in the act by uncovering what promotional content will align well with brand equity and will support integrated marketing communications.
For example, many food brands are now using recipe and weekly planning apps to remind people to replenish their kitchen cupboards. But take that a step further; these brands can also offer targeted promotions that generate even more sales.
In conclusion, when your brand captures broad insights across Involvement Drivers, Consideration Factors and Conversion Drivers, you’re starting think like QVC and Guthy|Renker. If you do it well, your positioning strategy will not be a static snapshot of your brand’s essence designed for a TV-type environment. Instead it will be a dynamic perspective that fosters consumer engagement across all channels, extending your insights and positioning strategy to capture the full Brand Blueprint SM.
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photo credit: REUTERS/Joshua Lott