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I recently met up with a former colleague, let’s call him Rob, for a beer and a chat during one of his very rare moments of downtime in his busy travel schedule. Now Rob is the global marketing director for a brand that has launched into one of the most competitive markets you could image.  Against all odds, this product has done incredibly well, taking a substantial portion of the market in its first year of launch and is expected to be in a market leadership position within the next year or so.

The current market leader had been heavily promoted for the past seven years, was well established and was well supported by many of the industry key opinion leaders. In comparison, the new product was no better than the existing product (although certainly no worse) and was the third product launched into a highly competitive market space that was largely stagnant.  The launch should have been a damp squib, mediocre at best, but yet it exceeded all sales forecasts.

So what did they do right? Well, the honest answer is that they did three things right: they understood the market, they kept everything simple and they made sure that all of their activities worked together to reinforce each other.


I have worked with many companies over the years and in almost every case I have seen brand teams work themselves into the ground as they try to do too much. Deadlines were missed, budgets were not effectively spent and team members burned out in a futile attempt to complete all of the tasks they had set themselves. In most cases, none of the team members took a step back and said, “This is too much, let’s think this through again.  How can we ensure that we understand what we need to do?  What is important to our customers and how can we cut out the rest and really focus on the activities that are valued”?

This team asked all of these important questions right up front. Before they launched, the brand team invested a substantial amount of time and budget to ensure that they really understood the market and their customers. They accurately identified the critical success factors required to launch into the market through a combination of qualitative and quantitative research exercises.  

They also spent a substantial amount of time with their customers, trying to identify exactly what the customers really valued. This knowledge allowed them to concentrate their efforts on doing a few important things really well, delivering excellence across their activities, without breaking the back of their brand teams.  They also adopted the approach that if activities didn’t work together and reinforce each other, then they would not do them.  This mutual reinforcement and fit allowed them punch far above their weight in terms of market impact.

In addition to delivering fewer activities, they ensured that their messaging was simple, consistent and really resonated with their target market, making it easy for their customers to understand what made the product different.  In spite of not necessarily having a superior product, the simple messaging allowed them to gain rapid brand recognition in the market. This was then easily converted into brand liking and usage.

What makes this team different to many with whom I have worked over the years was that they didn’t just talk about cutting back and doing a few things really well, they acted. More importantly, they did the important things that really mattered to their customers, to an incredibly high standard and then cut out the rest. This focus has allowed them to set their product on a growth path that must surely be one of the steepest ever in their industry.

If you would like more information on developing integrated, multichannel marketing plans or would like The Cape Marketing & Consulting Company to help you develop your tactical brand plans, please contact Andrew Wilmot at andrew.wilmot@thecmcc.com.

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