I’ve come across this saying a few times recently. The more I hear it, the more I fall in love with it. It applies to everything in our lives.
It’s long been associated with leadership and management, especially around owners and senior managers creating toxic cultures that become the problems of those lower down in the organisational hierarchy. Psychologists also often use it around how our negative thoughts can infiltrate and impact all areas of our life.
Most recently though, I’ve started to explore how it is applicable to marketing. Admittedly, over a couple of beers.
Marketing sh^t rolls downhill too!
Let me explain. To simplify, I like to break marketing down into a triangle or in this case, the marketing mountain/hill.
You can have the most talented marketers in the world.
You can have the best marketing talent in the world, managing the best campaigns with cutting-edge software, but if they aren’t communicating to the right audiences with the right messages, you’re wasting your time and money. Without the right strategy, the best marketers will still produce poor outcomes.
You can have the best strategy executed by the most talented marketers in the world.
You can have a great marketing strategy that has clear sales propositions, audience profiles and the what, when and how of marketing channels you will use. You can even have this strategy executed with great skill. But if your message doesn’t differentiate, is boring or misses the mark, or your target audience is wrong, you’re dead in the water!
Marketing sh^t roles down hill.
So, if your competitive advantage isn’t clear, engaging, or competitor-beating (i.e. it’s sh^t), no amount of good strategy or marketing talent will ever get you the results you want! You’re simply amplifying poor messaging to the wrong audience, which will result in poor results.
So, what achieves great marketing results?
Great marketing results can only be achieved once you have a clearly defined competitive advantage that engages and resonates with your target audience more than your competitors.
NOTE: It doesn’t matter what you think!
This is all about what your target audience thinks and values. They are the judge, jury, and executioner of your competitive advantage.
So, what exactly is a competitive advantage?
A competitive advantage:
- Defines exactly how you are different from your competitors
- Is measurable – it puts real numbers/stats to the claims of why you are so good
- Engages with your target audience
- Clearly defines why I will buy from you rather than your competitors
- Is simple (we all overcomplicate things too much)
- Defines the real value that your business will provide (not features and benefits)
- Is wanted and valued by your target audience (more than what your competitors are providing) => the “shut up and take my money” factor
It’s the most important part of your business.
Your competitive advantage is the overarching guide to your operations and delivery. As a result, it will define:
- How successful you are
- How profitable you are
- How quickly you grow
- What your culture is like
It’s what ‘unicorns’ have in spades.
If you look at any rapidly growing business, they have nailed their competitive advantage. What’s more, they are shouting it from the rooftops, and people are queuing up to use their services!
All marketing does is amplify your strategy, which amplifies your message. If your strategy is wrong, vague or inaccurate, then no amount of marketing will produce the results you want. Likewise, if your message (competitive advantage) is boring, doesn’t differentiate and doesn’t resonate, no strategy, marketing, or marketer can ever produce the results you want.