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Marketing Moments | Did You Ever Like Report Card Day?

Marketing Moments
October 10, 2023 7:00 AM

Sales and Marketing

Marketing content shared with Michigan Business Network by:

Bonnie J. Knutson, PhD

The School of Hospitality Business

Broad College of Business

Michigan State University


When I was in school, I always liked Report Card Day – partly because I am naturally competitive, and partly because I wanted my parents to be proud of what I did. But most of all, the marks were a measure of how successful my plans were in reachin the goals I had set for myself.

As the old sayings go: [1] You cannot manage what you cannot measure, and [2] It is the WIITY (What is Important to You) principle in action. The second saying is called Relevancy. Put in the context of your business, what is important to consumers and how can you measure your success in attracting and keeping them? Basically, the more relevant your business is to what is important to them, the more likely they will become customers. The key, then, is identifying those essential requirements.

To find out just how relevant your business is, look at the Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) developed by the iconic brand strategy agency, Y&R.i The model is built on years of research which found that the long-term success of a brand is the result of it progressing through four stages: The first is Differentiation and the second is Relevance; taken together they reflect the Strength of the Brand, which is the focus of the BAV. ii

Differentiation is the starting point for every brand – including yours. What uniquely defines yours? How is it distinct from others in your competitive set? If you cannot offer consumers something they cannot get other places, why should they buy from you? There are many amusement parks, but only one Disneyland. There are many quick service restaurants, but only one Chick-fil-A. There are many hotels, but only one Graduate. There are many competitors, but only one you. What is your differentiation? Your uniqueness? That thing that consumers can only get from you.

But just being unique doesn’t cut it anymore. It is necessary, but not sufficient. Consumers want relevance too. How important or meaningful is that point of difference to them? Taken together, Y&R calls it Brand Strength. So the question is: taken together, how strong is your brand?

But how do you start determining your Brand Strength? You first begin with really understanding what consumers require to not just be customers but to be engaged customers. As Marshall Field, of department store fame, purportedly said when asked why his retail store was so successful, ”I ask the lady what she wants and then I sell it to her.” His truism is still valid today. It requires the right asking strategy, of course, and should be conducted by an outside research entity that understands both your industry and the best methodology to use to get you the information you need for the next phase.

Once you understand consumers’ requirements, construct a four-quadrant square, similar to what is used in Menu Engineering. Label the horizontal axis Uniqueness; label the vertical axis Relevant. Now, position your brand, as well as your competitors, in their respective positions/squares. Is yours a plow horse, a puzzle, a dog, or a star? This simple graphic exercise will give you valuable insights into how strong your brand is in your market area and what you can do to become or remain a star.

We all know that we can’t be all things to all people. Not everyone wants to be or can be your customer. Elliot Schreiber, PhD, summed it up best, saying, “Relevance is more important than Differentiation. Business strategists, marketers, and brand managers have been fixated on differentiation. Customers, however, are drawn to relevance – the things that connect with them emotionally. As I explain to my students, differentiation is all the people you date; relevance is the one you marry because you cannot live without them. It is emotional and irrational, but the bond is strong.”

Your Bottom Line will thank you.

i http://ruby.fgcu.edu/courses/tdugas/ids3332/acrobat/bav.pdf ii The third stage in Y&R’s model measures Esteem and the forth focuses on the consumer’s Knowledge of the brand. Together, these two stages combine to measure the Brand’s Stature.

Marketing Moments, hosted by Dr. Bonnie Knutson. With her wit and entertaining style, Bonnie, a frequent speaker at business and association meetings takes her perspective and brings it to our broadcast platform. She shares decades of knowledge and brand awareness, and gives us all a new lens on marketing for business.

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