Episode 5 - When Competitors Zigs. Zag.

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When the World Zigs. Zag.

You probably don't know the origin of this phrase, but the important thing is to embrace it.In this episode, we move into looking at competition, analysing what they do, then tossing it out the window and running your own race. Keeping you one step ahead, and forging your own path.

The blog on our website is packed full of useful topics to inspire your current business and future brand. If you're not ready to invest - check out our free quiz download - How to Use Emotions to Sell.

We'll cover:

  • Focusing on a niche rather than a broad market
  • Why you should look at buyer/customer personas
  • How many customer personas you need
  • An example of a customer persona
  • And how to narrow down and ask the right questions to write your personas.
  • If you're interested in meeting me and chatting in real life each month, In Newcastle, Australia. I host a networking event called Chatterbox - a friendly event to chat over any plans and help you get clarity on your brand. You'll also meet many other established, growing or just starting businesses.


Transcription by Descript, this is not an affiliate link, we just love their product.


This is the hot metal brand podcast. I'm your host Martin Sully, founder of snapper studio, a brand strategy and visual design studio in the heart of Newcastle Australia. And I'm on a mission to help you gain clarity in your brand and confidence in what you are. From thoughtful, empowering brand strategies to defining powerful visual stories. I'll arm you with bite-size branding tools to help you grow your brand and leave your own unique mark do, do, do do hello and welcome back.


Ah, this is gonna be a fun one today. So if you, if you were a child growing up in. The nineties in England or in the UK, you no doubt would've heard of two characters called Zig and zag. They were pretty unbearable. But anyway, we're gonna, we're gonna do a little bit of this today and talk a little bit about zigging and zagging, because it's like from the, you know, it's just one of those things that everybody tells you to zag. And I'm not gonna change that opinion. I, I think cookie cutter businesses that, you know, uh, are just, yeah, it's not as it's, you're not gonna have the leverage that you should do. From just doing the same old, same old thing.

[00:01:45] So going back to 2007, I had, I was lucky enough to have invited to our university. John Haggerty and John Haggerty is probably not a name that you know, and that's okay. He was a partner in a advertising agency called Barty Boal, Haggerty, or BH, for sure. Now they did some pretty amazing stuff and I presumably they're still running . I mean, they've been around since like way before 1982.


Anyway. 1982, they helped Levi's launch a pair of black jeans. And that doesn't sound that amazing, but black jeans just, weren't a thing. They. Denim denim was always blue. So anyway, going into it, BB they ran a black sheep ad campaign that featured yeah. Life size models of sheep sheeps. Oh. So BBH, they had black sheep campaign and beauty of it was highlighting black Levis. When the world zigs zag. It was iconic.


The advert was a, you know, a hundred sheep, all white facing one way and one sheep that was black, just going the other way. You know, it was pretty rebellious. And I guess today, um, being a black sheep, you know, amongst the world of white sheep is probably not gonna go down particularly well. But anyway, that kind of, yeah, it sums up that whole, the whole motto of yeah. Is, has been yeah. Adopted by so many people. That it's distinctive. And whilst you may not know the origins of Zien and zagging, it's a really important one to remember, but most brands actually just abide by industry conventions, which is great for you because you you could just break the conventions and become distinctive. Now I realize that's not as simple as you, as it sounds.


If you can differentiate yourself from all the other brands, then you are definitely gonna be giving yourself the best possible chance of being spotted and being loved. So to do this, we kind of need to, yeah. We need to dive into conventions of what brands currently do. What does your typical product of service? How is it delivered? What are the challenges and fears that people have using those products and how do we, how do we go? Ah, do you know what this is a new way to do it? This is gonna be fun. This is gonna be this, this is gonna be that.


We're gonna, you know, we're gonna do it like this without it becoming a. Um, what's the best way to describe without becoming divisive for, for no apparent reason. How are you gonna mix your industry up and make you stand out without, you know, just slamming on all the other people. Every now and again, when I'm working with the new brand, the question will come up and it'll be along the lines of why do I need to look at what all the other competitors are doing?


And. Yeah, what do I need to do to fix this? And this is how we, yeah. We start getting into how we differentiate your brand from somebody else's. So this is how it's yeah, it's a key factor to look at is to make sure that you are standing out from them. Um, so we need to talk a little bit about differentiating you. So, yeah. Differentiating your brand. How do we do that? So we've got a, like 2.7 seconds to capture people's time and attention. Now we want them to invest the time back into your brand and make you. The irresistible and irreplaceable brand that is different. How do we do that? So we've gotta narrow down your target market rather than having that really broad target market that we spoke about in the last episode.


Yeah. We don't want that really broad target market of parents or shoppers. I mean, they're not useful to narrow it down. We then have to find out what. Unique problems are, um, so we can uniquely benefit your, the customer and provide a solution that fixes their problems and solving a problem will yeah. Be an amazing way to differentiate your brand. We want you to be innovative, to be in innovative in your industry. Maybe. Obviously it's gonna be different for everyone, but how is your industry evolving and with the industry evolving. So should your business evolve, if you are always one step behind your competitors, you're always gonna be chasing them.


How do you, how do you position yourself that you are just one step ahead so that they're always chasing you? It's not by offering similar services to your competition. It's how do you stand out and become that, uh, key person of influence that people look to, to, to copy. And then how do you, once you've got to that position, how do you then translate that into staying ahead?


Aha. I can see your brain's digging now. So how do you deliver a service that's innovative or products that are innovative and, you know, can you make it faster? Can you do it? More accurately than your, your competitors. Yeah. Don't just get stuck in the same ways. Try and bring something new to the table so that your business doesn't end up going stagnant.


And this could be your testing out products. You are testing out new courses. You are yeah. Looking at different different products and selling new things. You are. You're researching. This could be one really good way to do it is to look at the competition, identify them and then forget about them. You do not have the time to worry about what other people are doing, and if you spend too much time focusing on competition, you'll always just be one step behind.


And. Yeah, you'll be, you'll be feeling a little bit like you've got a, you know, a bit of an imposter syndrome where you can't just go and do it one good way to do this is typical old school SWOT analysis. So look at these strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and there's, you know, there's a whole raft of things that you're gonna be doing.


Wow. There's gonna be stuff that you don't do well . Um, but we want to turn those all into there, your opportunities and, you know, you threat to change changes in your market, changes in, uh, politics changes in, uh, obviously, yeah, obviously the economy, things that are kind of completely outside of your scope and things about things that aren't, you're not gonna even thought about.


Take the time to consider, uh, what competition is doing well and where they're coming up short by finding the bits where they fall short in, you can spot all the stuff that you can, you can implement and innovate, ah, to make yourself distinctive and different. One of the, one of the most fun ways to, uh, to think about it is to consider your brand has a villain.


You know what great story. Doesn't have a villain and, you know, a hero's nemesis, you know, it can be the inspiration that you need to pick out, uh, something that differentiates yourself. What would you know, Luke Skywalker be without Darth Vader? What would you know, Batman be without the joker? Every great story has a villain.


And how can your brand kind of start applying that to, you know, do a few fun things for your brand. And there's a great series, old Mac versus PC ads that yeah. Look at, you know, all the things like I think they, they were made by apple and it was like, you know, Macs, freeze, and then it's just got the, the guy standing there.


Uh, he's got just two guys on the. One of them's like completely frozen the other guy's like, Hey, what's going on? Uh, you are just standing there and then the guy starts up again. He's like, oh, sorry. I had to restart. Um, don't you have to do that. And the apple guy's like, no, I don't, I don't have that problem.


Does it need to an enemy? Yeah, I, I, you know, I think, yeah, it's a, it's a fun way to look at zigging and zagging. So have a think about, uh, who your enemy could be in a, you know, in a playful way, without it being like, you know, you're making, you're making enemies. , that's not the idea. That's not the idea. Um, so yeah, you can, you can do a lot of, you can have a lot of fun with that, but making an enemy, it gives you people a couple of action points that you can do as well.


So it can reaffirm. Your customer's social identity. So social identities play a huge role in purchasing behaviors. So whether we shop at Kmart or David Jones, you know, the things that we buy, help us to reaffirm our belonging. To certain social groups and distance ourselves from some of the other ones.


Another one could be your choice of car. Um, are you looking at Teslas are, or, you know, are you just looking at just getting a run of the meal? I don't know. Mitsubishi Pajero and you know, are you environmentally conscious? That purchase visibly demonstrates your. Yeah, your active role in either fighting pollution or it reinforces, you know, your identity in other people's minds or your own, even having a visible enemy makes it easy for customers to understand who and what your brand stands for and against, and whether they can kind of fit into their social identity too.


The second thing they can do is. Encourages action. So if you've ever experienced health symptoms without knowing the cause, you'll know how frustrating is not being able to pinpoint the problem. And yeah, you might feel like trying solutions that are just a bit of a stab in the dark because you, you don't know the root cause.


Well, When we invite our customer to become hero in our story, they might only know the symptoms of their problem, too. We need to help identify the cause of what's going in the way of their success, their villain, because once we can name their enemy, they can also get the clarity and motivation to take action against them.


So, how are you gonna Zig? How are you gonna zag when everyone's zigging, who is your brand enemy? What's stopping customers from achieving the success. They really want what what's stopping them from, uh, yeah. Buying into the feelings that you're trying to communi. What's stopping all of that and remember your brand enemy, isn't how your customers feel.


And when you are creating your film, just remember to. Focus on one. So don't think of lots of different villains focus on one. So it's consistent and that it's easy to replicate and, uh, yeah. Transform your story. Uh, try to avoid picking a compet competitor as your brand villain. Maybe it's what those competitors represent or how they operate that they are the real enemy.


That about does it for today's episode. Next week we are coming back. We're gonna be talking all about customer experience or that customer journey. You need to create, to welcome people in and make sure they keep coming back.