May 18, 2015

Want to be a challenger?

It’s all very well understanding the principles of being a Challenger brand, and even how to get into the ‘Challenger mentality’, but when it comes down to it, what can you do to challenge your marketplace, segment, and most importantly, your competition? Here are my top tips on how:

Determine where you can make a difference

So you are not new in the marketplace and you have competitors that do the same thing as you. You are not alone, and finding a real credible differentiator can be hard. However, if you are going to be different, you need to find a hook; something that will give you a rational and emotional connection to your clients – ask yourself this: “What problem are we trying to solve for our clients?”

When you know what you are trying to achieve it is much easier to craft a strong proposition that can be executed through your marketing and communications strategy. Being clear on what you want to say to the marketplace makes it much easier to drive the conversation, or actively engage with key audiences.

Tell your brand story

Traditionally, B2B brands don’t really tell their story to the outside world. Yes, they’ll explain what they do, but what’s missing here – and in so much of B2B communication – is the human part of the brand. We all love Apple, and for those who don’t it is unlikely that you can dismiss the power of the brand. And what has Apple done to achieve this? It’s focused on the how and why we buy, not what we are buying.

Touchy-feely it may be, but regardless of the channels you ultimately use to deliver your communications strategy or campaign, getting that connection to your stakeholders is vital.

Be disruptive and no ‘buts’

Having worked out what we want to say and who we want to say it to, we have to express it visually and verbally in a way that will turn heads. This is where the best approach you can take is to be completely open and let those creative juices flow. Our rule here is no buts! You can ask questions of your colleagues and challenge their views, but always evaluate ideas properly – never just throw them away. If we did that, we wouldn’t have been part of a record-breaking ice cream-making experiment or a stunt bike video in our client’s yard!

If you are going to challenge the norm then you have to find something different and you will have to be bold.

Stand up and be counted

In the oil and gas sector there is often a ‘race to be second’ but to be a Challenger in your communication you must have courage and be prepared to take the first step.

We are now so exposed to different channels of communication that it takes clever campaigns, multi- channel approaches and constant repetition to claim that competitive edge.

Some of our greatest successes here have been in developing completely new segments for our clients to own. But that’s not right for everyone, so clever campaigns, strong storytelling and understanding where you will have the most impact is key. 

The ultimate goal is to be seen as the leader and not a follower, so look and listen to the sector and your competitor activity. Don’t lock horns with them, be smarter and politely step over them to cut through the noise and gain the premier position.

There’s no time like the present

In a world where news breaks in an instant and something can become viral in seconds, if you want to challenge the norm you have to be able to move quickly. Responding to market conditions, news and events, and being seen and heard to comment and engage on these issues, will again help to gain vital ground as a leader and an influencer.

Be confident and committed in all that you do and say. Be selective with your channels so you are engaging with the right audiences, and of course, the standard rules of common sense apply. But don’t wait to see where the conversation will go. If you do, you’ll miss your chance and the next one may not come so easily. Read on. 

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