Let’s face it, retail is pay to play. Building a brand is hard work, and it’s the primary reason brands struggle and frequently fail. The good news is that there is a better way to grow and scale your brand confidently! It requires adopting a simple yet effective blueprint that most brands don’t have the discipline to commit to. It’s how I’ve been about to push around some of the largest and most iconic brands on the planet. Interested? Read on to find out more.

Value your consumer if you value your brand

You’ve poured all your creativity, love, sweat, and energy into building a brand that will revolutionize and disrupt the category. You’re absolutely confident that it will be a huge success. All you need to do is figure out a way to share your creation with the world.

Shouldn’t your go-to-market strategy be every bit as creative and disruptive as the ingredients inside your package? Most brands are taught to adopt the same tired strategies that aren’t working well for even the big brands. They commoditize shoppers, thus overlooking what matters most – what shoppers really want. And in the end, they fail.

Here’s why it matters. The same “generic” marketing tactics and reporting tools one brand uses to sell motor oil won’t differentiate your organic baby food. Your customers are unique and they want to know that you care and appreciate them. They want brands that address their individual needs and wants. Value is more important to those shoppers than price. These shoppers spend more at checkout and thus are more valuable to the store. 

Break out of the bucket 

Traditional marketing strategies tend to lump shoppers into common buckets. They believe it makes it easier to market and sell to them as a result. Take for example your standard product ranking report. It lumps products into generic categories that overlook how your customers buy your products. They align with the way stores are merchandised and not how customers shop. 

A shopper who is lactose intolerant, for example, has limited choices in the traditional dairy case but they are a perfect candidate for alternative milk products, which are typically merchandised in the baking aisle. That forces the shopper to go on a scavenger hunt if they don’t like what’s displayed in the dairy case. The syndicated databases reflect and amplify this causing brands and retailers to overlook what matters most – your shopper!

The same is true about your brand and any of the tools and strategies you use. Your brand is just another package on a crowded store shelf until you adopt the creative strategies other brands overlook.   

The lactose intolerant shoppers want a milk product alternative – period. Focusing on the shopper journey and making it easy for them to find and buy the products they want is how you convert occasional customers into loyal shoppers. Placing the alternative milk section next to the dairy case is how you solve this problem.  

The power in the personal 

Your most powerful weapon is the unique customer your brand attracts. But that’s just the start. To gain a competitive edge you need to go deeper and connect with your customers on a personal and intimate level. You also need tactics other brands don’t have the discipline to adopt. 

Consider this: none of us like to be sold to and we hate it when marketers lump us into generic buckets. This is the Achilles heel of big brands, as well as most of your competitors. We want brands to connect with us as individuals. Brands that can personalize the way they communicate and market to us will gain a sustainable competitive advantage across every channel and every economy.  

Start by understanding your ideal shopper. Not the generic female, head of household, with 2.3 kids. Get to know your customers the same as you would a close friend. What matters to them? Clean ingredients, the climate, sustainable packaging, or perhaps a specific cause or mission. Talk to them in their language in everything you do; your marketing, go-to-market strategy, etc. 

Next, make it easy for your ideal shopper to find and buy your brand where they shop! Selling your brand in a store your customer does not shop at is a waste of money and a recipe for failure. Develop an online and social media strategy that builds a thriving community around your band outside traditional retail. Leverage your online tribe to drive sales into retail stores. 

Retail execution is the next big hurdle every brand faces, and it’s the place where most brands struggle, from out-of-stocks to poor or inconsistent merchandising. From the shopper’s perspective, it’s the brand’s fault if there are issues. You’ve worked hard for the opportunity to get your brand onto store shelves, and this is the point where you need to be perfect. Your messaging and all your customer-facing strategies need to be executed flawlessly with the same passion, excitement, and authenticity as if the founder personally made each and every sales and merchandising call themselves. This will give your brand a significant and sustainable competitive advantage. 

Remember that everything begins and ends with the shopper, and the secrets to your success are in how well you support your ideal shopper. Make it easy for them to find and buy your products wherever they shop.

Stay tuned for Brand Secrets #2: How To Gain A Strategic Advantage As A Category Leader – What Retailers REALLY Want.

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