Martha Guidry, Special for US Daily Review.
BMW, Apple, Disney, Ritz Carlton, Coca Cola, Tylenol, Cover Girl cosmetics, Head & Shoulders…….
Behind every successful product, service, or brand is a powerful concept. It is really that simple. Products and services that win in the marketplace are successful in presenting an idea that combines a clear benefit with invisible consumer logic. Whether your business is big or small, just started, or in some stage of majority, you need a marketing concept. Surprisingly, many marketers struggle with creating a unique and own-able concept — it is much more difficult than most think.
So what exactly is a marketing concept? Fundamentally, it is the mental picture of the benefit your target audience/your buyer believes they will receive when they purchase your product or service. The best description I ever heard of a concept was in a speech by Larry Huston of Procter & Gamble in the ‘80’s:
A true measure of a [positioning} concept is its simplicity. When presenting a concept the concept to the consumer, [we] must provide a clean, easily defensible, clearly articulated, emotionally satisfying, thorough convincing, superior answer to the deceptively simple question, “Why should I purchase from you?”
Two fundamental types of concepts exist: core idea concepts and positioning (or marketing) concepts.
- A core idea concept simply describes the product or service being offered and is used to determine whether an idea is of interest to a potential buyer.
- A positioning concept attempts to sell the benefits of the product or service. It must tap into a real customer believe and provide a relevant context for the idea.
Your business needs a positioning concept or you’ll look like everyone else in your competitive set or even worse, your target audience or your competitor might position you (and it might not want to be what you want to stand for).
Let’s look at a quick example on a mock business for “My Farm” organic milk. The core idea for the farm’s product is that the milk has all the nutritional features of regular milk, but it’s all natural and free of hormones. Ok, so that sounds like any product that is organic and customers may or may not be interested in hearing about that. A positioning concept could offer a benefit such as: My Farm Milk is the milk you can feel good about serving your kids. Hmm, if I am a mom, I might want find out about a product that makes me feel like a better mom. If My Farm doesn’t communicate a positioning, the regular milk farmer might suggest that My Farm is the “expensive milk that isn’t worth the extra price.” As the business owner, which one would you prefer to maximize your profitability? My educated guess is the marketing concept that tells me what is in it for me…I feel good about serving it!
Creating your marketing concept requires some work on your part. You need to understand 3 primary areas to develop an effective business positioning: Content, Language and Relevance. I call this “CLeAR” thinking to make it easier to remember.
- Content: You must first make sure that you are communicating something meaningful in the content of your concept. Does your business solve a problem or overcome an existing negative? Have you identified believable and meaningful reasons that support why what you are offering is beneficial? Are you filling a functional need (whiter teeth with a toothpaste), an emotional need (feeling more comfortable smiling) or something in between (the whitest teeth for the most confident you).
- Language: The language must be appropriate for the target audience — if you are targeting a high tech business professional or a nervous, new mom you should be using their language. Companies often develop an idea and communicate language that sounds like they are targeting the internal company owners and senior management than anyone who might actually want your service. The language must be outwardly focused, not internal lingo.
- Relevant: Make your concept relevant to your target – novel and unique in the competitive set. If you selling a shampoo, if you merely claim that your hair will be clean — the product won’t be jumping off the shelf. In contrast, if you promise healthy, radiant hair, you’ve offered something that might be aspirational to many.
Once you’ve developed and qualified a winning concept, it must be then turned into a copy strategy. Contrary to what some believe, a concept is not a selling line such as “Hallmark, when you care enough to send the very best” or “Disney, where dreams come true.” The marketing concept identified the winning approach, the copy strategy is the backbone of all of your communications — advertising, PR, sales, promotion, website, selling line, social media communications, etc. The copy strategy is used to execute a winning concept idea.
Let’s look at my own business. When I first started out, my company was called Consumer Reactions and I was a moderator of qualitative research. Most of my business was consumer focused so the company name made sense. When my husband’s job took us to England, I stopped working. Upon our return, I opened my business again, but smarter. I recognized a unique opportunity in my prior practice to help my clients provide better concept stimuli for their research. When I identified that niche, my company became The Rite Concept and I was now something much broader than a moderator – now known as “The Concept Queen.” This new positioning and communication was created by seeing a void in the market and realizing that helping clients ideate, research and develop concepts was a much more unique and relevant to my target audience.
You can do it, too. Large or small, you can find that niche that will help your business, product or service grow much more rapidly. The time and effort focused on developing your concept and communicating it well will make new sales much more effortless. And, who doesn’t want that?
Martha Guidry of The Rite Concept helps marketers, product developers, and market researchers win in the marketplace. She partners with teams to identify, create and optimize winning concepts as the linchpin for a successful communication strategy. Guidry is the author of the new book Marketing Concept that Win! Save Time, Money and Work Crafting Concepts Right the First Time, helping readers to understand more about positioning their products and services with their target market. For more information, please visit www.TheRiteConcept.com.