After the re-set in the global economy, people everywhere are re-evaluating and sorting out what is valuable in their lives and what is not. What the world needs now is to have more value added to it. And that’s what brands must do — add value to the world — if they want to lead the market in the post-marketing world.
Creating new value is fundamental to the healthy functioning of our free-market economy. Like the natural law of gravity, creating new value is the natural law of increase. People are always seeking an increase to their lives — wanting to be a higher and more fuller expression of themselves. As brand marketers, when we have the opportunity to serve people well, we find greater meaning and satisfaction in our own life experience.
The marketplace is a slush pile of clutter. Your biggest competitor in the marketplace is clutter. Attention spans are shrinking, people are fatigued by marketing messages coming at them from everywhere and on every device… attention spans are shorter, media channels are ever changing. One could argue now that people don’t care about brands, and they really don’t want a relationship with a brand — unless they get a discount.
If your company/product/brand no longer existed would any one care? Does your brand represent an ideal (beyond your product / service function and money-making) that customers highly value? Does your organization focus on innovation that provides your best customers just what they’re asking for, or do you focus on providing future customers what they’re dreaming of and waiting for?
We live in the post branding/marketing world everything is branded and everything is good. In a world of me-too products, resonance and relevance is an increasingly difficult challenge for brand marketers in every business category. If your value proposition looks, smells and tastes like marketing, people are more inclined to ignore you.
How brand marketers can be more successful. Increasing your value to people requires insight to be out ahead of the customer’s stated needs and connecting with their unspoken aspirations and dreams. This is what people really care about. The products / brands that best represent these higher ideals are usually the ones that reshape categories, change people’s behavior and lead markets.
If you’re discounting your prices, you’re not leading anything Only market leaders command premium pricing. There can only be one leader. Everyone else sells on functions and price. And in an over-crowded marketplace, where there is abundant choice, any price is too high. You can’t grow your value discounting your prices. Nor can you increase your prices without providing the equivalent or greater “use value” people are dreaming of and waiting for.
Moving up the value chain implies more than a fair exchange It’s no longer enough to meet customer quality expectations. Today, everything is good. Good = the same! To thrive, enlightened business leaders will focus less on urgent transactions and more on creating scintillating, dramatic, unique, relevant and transformative experiences. Experiences people love. This will always involve innovating new crazy ideas that provide far more “use value” than customers pay in cash value. This is the over-looked source code to customer advocacy.
Two choices: the creative plane or the competitive plane If your brand is to thrive in the new economy driven by creating new value, you’ll have to choose between operating from the creative plane or the competitive plane.
When your organization operates on the competitive plane: It can only win when somebody else loses. You will only bring products to market that are based in incremental user needs, and abundantly available from other sources. You’ll be forced to compete at the lowest price. Crazy ideas that are without form and are unproven will be discounted in favor of the status quo. Your enterprise will be managed based on control, competition and survival.
When your organization creates value on the creative plane: There will be no shortage in supply of opportunity. You’ll innovate and design products that redefine the category, delighting customers with the unexpected, making competition irrelevant. Your customers will experience more use value than they pay in cash value–making price irrelevant. Your organization will be focused on turning possibilities into realities. Your organization will not count transactions but create experiences people love and build trust advertising money can’t buy.
What marketers need to do.
Embrace Crazy ideas Everything that ever was, is now, and ever will be is at first a formless thought seed in the imagination of a creative mind. Many of the products we can’t live without today started out as crazy ideas– automobiles, airplanes, personal computing, digital music an entertainment, smartphones, the social web – stuff nobody needed or was asking for, but once realized was just the thing they we’re waiting for.
All the stuff that has changed how we live in the world begins as a formless crazy idea. Crazy ideas are always more richly embedded with game changing opportunity than safe ideas. A safe idea is the one you can “prove will work” before it takes form in the world.
Few if any great innovations were proven in advance.
Innovate around a higher meaning Creating new value always involves proposing new or unexpected meanings. What matters most to people is not the function or performance of a given product, but their emotional, psychological and cultural connection to what the product means to them.
New value is in the “meaning” not in the physical thing. People don’t just buy product, they buy into a higher meaning. This unexpected idea, unsolicited by user needs, once discovered, turns out to be the very thing people were waiting for, just not asking for. Nobody was asking for an iPod, Facebook, baked potato chips, the Swiffer, or any other product innovation that has redefined or reinvented a category.
Forget user-centered innovation With so many such examples in every industry to benchmark from, I am surprised most marketers don’t seem to “get it”. Most are heavily invested in traditional market innovation – finding a consumer need and filling it.
Many marketers are focused on how their new product / service innovation has more buttons and is easier to use, has more features and is cheaper than the leading brand. A radical innovation of meaning rarely, if ever, comes from incremental improvements or user-centered approaches.
Most companies continue to improve incremental performance within existing market concepts they know well– leaving only a few visionary companies to gain competitive advantage (market leadership) by proposing new and different meanings.
The message of hope.
Value creator brands are guided by a higher purpose beyond money-making… they earn and deserve the advocacy of high value customers because they represent an “increase to life” itself. In our post-marketing-social-media world, consumers create communities based on shared values. Brands can’t add values to the world unless they have them.
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