Secret Marketer: ‘Channel your energy on a common enemy’

It might seem sacrilegious with the Olympic torch still warm to the touch, but I was born in an era when it was not just the taking part that mattered: winning was everything and never more so than in business. Not only that, but to motivate an entire company, drive energy and pride top-to-tail through a business, while building a truly differentiated brand, you have to turn that passion against your competitors. You must truly hate your enemies.

Secret Marketer

I have worked for a number of challenger brands, where our entire focus was on getting one up on the market leader – exposing their frailties to demonstrate why our brand is better or the natural alternative choice.

Clearly, it is not as simple as that for many brands – in some markets, you may have to ‘mate with what you hate’. Competitors may be channels to market (for example, in the holiday market, where the respective retailers sell both their own and competitors’ packages) and sometimes even partners (such as in the own-label retail market). And, of course, customers often reject copy that knocks your rivals.

But when it comes to your employees, what better way to get the adrenaline running and encourage them to be proud of the brand they represent than to turn their passions against the competition? Get their blood boiling: “They are rubbish, we are fantastic.”

Now, not everyone agrees with this, but let me give you another angle. If you don’t turn your anger on the competition, there is a high chance you will turn it on yourselves.

In just about every company where I have worked, we have all blamed the legal team for not letting us run that killer promotion, the IT team for their inability to get our new products to market, and the sales team for not pushing our new proposition hard enough. By focusing that energy on the competition, you can unite the team – drop the silly, petty internal squabbles, get the lawyers, tech guys and sales people to overcome their own challenges and do whatever it takes to put one over on those donkeys from up the road.

So my message this week is to channel your energy on a common enemy – outside the business – that has no right to converse with your customers, court them or contemplate selling to them.

They have no right to share the same breath as your brand – we are so much better than them and together we can smash them into the ground…Just saying.



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