Out-think your competitors, don’t outspend them

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote that ”It’s more important to out-think your enemy than outfight him.“ That was 2,500 years ago and today your marketplace is the battlefield.

Effective marketing should not be about who has the deepest pockets – when organisations get the branding right, with unique positioning and differentiation, they see better returns on the marketing budget.

Spend less on marketing and advertising

Human brains are hardwired to notice what’s different. It comes from a time when our ancient ancestors needed to distinguish potential threats and survive their somewhat precarious existence. That trait remains. So if your product, service or brand is poorly differentiated, your prospective customers will struggle to notice it and you will spend more trying to compensate.

So, what makes you different? What makes you ‘the only one’ in your market? It could be a variety of things but whatever you decide ‘it’ is, it has to be relevant to the needs or aspirations of your audience. For example, you could be the only Estate Agent that gives a money-back guarantee. It may be you are the only coffee brand that roasts and delivers the same day. Or perhaps you are the only private hospital that offers a concierge service?

Time spent defining and employing what it is that makes you unique is effective for two reasons… firstly, greater natural visibility and secondly, a ‘reason to buy’. Both will save you significant costs in marketing and advertising. So remember, when everybody zigs… ZAG.

Reduce recruitment costs and increase customer loyalty

Defining your organisation’s ‘reason-for-being’ or purpose is extremely valuable:

  1. Employees that want to contribute to your organisation’s aims are easier to find and recruit, and stay with you longer. Purpose is an important component of an employer brand and therefore lowers the cost of recruitment by no trivial amount… LinkedIn Talent Data have identified a 43% decrease in cost per hire.
  2. It will make your customers identify with your brand and increase their loyalty – this will reduce ongoing acquisition costs such as advertising and paid search.

You don’t have to be saving endangered species or exploring outer space to have a ‘purpose’. Any shape or size of organisation can benefit from a clearly-defined goal – one that’s beyond making money.

For example, a child car seat manufacturer may have an overarching ambition to reduce accident fatalities. Or an accountancy firm may have a long-term aspiration to demystify business finance or encourage numeracy in schools. Once you reveal your underlying purpose to the world, like-minded people will want to buy from you and work for you.

Differentiation and purpose are just two of many ways you can out-think your competitors. Add these brand strategies to your armoury to win and save money.


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