Did you know that where I come from we don’t use the word “diapers”? We call them “Pampers”. Yes, there are other brands present on the market like “Huggies” or “Luvs” but even they are called “Pampers” by our people. In my book, this is the very definition of a brand winning an audience.
How’d this happen? Well, when the magic of television broadcasting was revealed in our country that included a bit more content than the one central channel from before our unprepared minds were bombarded with TV ads and it looked like the “Pampers” have bought the lion’s share of the screen time.
Yep, that’s right. There was no magic to it, no clever advertising strategies or miracle-making pioneers in the niche. One player had the majority of screen time for a long while and that player has won the battle for our minds.
The one great thing I could notice that gave the diaper company more strength was something we today call a sin – no targeting. Everyone was watching these ads from preschoolers to the retired folk. Men, women, children, they have all experienced the wave of advertising and guess what came up their mind when the time was right? What did they think of after giving birth to a baby?
That’s right, they’ve all had the same thought that was hammered into their heads for years, that thought being “we’ll need a lot of Pampers soon”.
The war for the minds
Your business is a brand. Your competitors also have their businesses, hence they have their brands as well. Treat other brands as enemies as the general rule of thumb. You are at war with them, after all, as you do wish to see your business on top.
But what are you fighting for? Market share? Profits? Revenue streams? Yes, partially you are, but all of those things are the result of accomplishing your goal, not the goal itself.
What makes the market? Who brings money to your business? What makes you the king in the niche? Your client, of course hence more clients are the goal of a business. Always.
How do you get more people to “fall for you” then? Well, you can do the thing “Pampers” did if you have several trucks loaded with $100 bills ready to fill up your marketing budget and simply beat the living hell out of competition with dollars, price, and other questionable practices.
Or you can enter the niche as an outsider and carefully make your way into the minds of your clients. I believe that option number two is more preferable for small business owners.
Yes, doing so is much more challenging, yet the endgame is 100% worth it. So how do you battle for the minds of your market like a pro? By learning from the pros!
Cola VS Pepsi
Let’s take a look at the age-old rivals: Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. And no, we will not be talking about their raging war on the US market. There is plenty of material dedicated to that subject matter. We will be taking a look at something more suitable for our situation: the underdog struggle on a new market. The Vietnamese market to be more particular.
PepsiCo was the first player to enter the Vietnamese market of beverages. When they did, all they had to fight against was a small group of local businesses and – needless to say – the enormous hammer of an international corporation pondered all of them into the dirt without breaking a sweat.
PepsiCo had a better product, a more efficient customer service/relationships plan and much more affordable prices. So they grabbed the market and fortified their position with concrete and cannons.
When Cola entered the playing field they faced a much more powerful enemy than local brands. They were up against a rival that had better positions, more trust but, more importantly, they were up against someone who had the chance to understand the locals better.
PepsiCo was working with the minds of the Vietnamese, not their wallets. I can tell this by a neat little example: a promotion both Cola and Pepsi held in the 90’s.
PepsiCo was offering a Honda bike as their main prize while Cola bets theory chips on a “trip abroad” prize for the winners. The first prize was by far more practical and suitable in Vietnam, hence people desired it more than a trip.
Coca-Cola has learned from their mistakes. They’ve crafted a more suitable, practical marketing plan for the Vietnamese market: from giving away umbrellas with their products (a very practical gain) to make new business relationships with local distributing companies to sponsoring music festivals that raised brand awareness.
Challenge the strength, not the weakness
This was a war between big players with big budgets. Yet, the core principles of it can be used in small business marketing planning as well.
By teaching you an important lesson. It is useless to hit the weak spot of a brand because they can easily fix something. You should rather the greatest strengths of other players in order to succeed.
PepsiCo was strong in understanding their customers. They knew that the market needed a practical value (as proven by the recently held “Honda bike promotion”) so Pepsi started giving away useful merchandise for free. Needless to say, umbrellas have worked much better than Coca Cola’s traditional plush bear toy giveaways.
Secondly, Coca-Cola started sponsoring events. This is something Pepsi was known for in Vietnam. But, while PepsiCo sponsored sports events Coca-Cola has targeted a wider demographic than the young by pouring money into music festivals. Not everyone has the skills to play football, but everybody listens to music.
Now think about your business and your competitors. What are their greatest strengths on the market and how can you target them to your benefit?