Messaging to the Connoisseur? Reverse Market.

In Youngme Moon’s quintessential re-thinker “Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd,” marketers are challenged to knock it off. Really, just stop doing what we’ve been doing and brand differently. Better. Breakthrough.

Not More. Not Bigger. Not Louder. Not Newer. Just Differently.

Moon talks about reverse brands – companies that differentiated in a mass market by changing some key element of business-as-usual. They realize that marketing is as integral to the success of an idea as the engineering of the idea itself. That having a true success doesn’t always stem from what is ‘more’ or ‘better’ about the offering, but instead it’s the break-out idea of how to communicate – and BE – that differentiation.

The Artist was the year’s most winning film. Best picture. Best director. Best actor in a leading role. And that’s just the Oscars – we’re not even listing all the other accolades. Great film, sure. But why was it a break out? Well, let’s see – it’s only the second silent film ever to win Best Picture. A silent film, in black and white, that’s not a heavy ‘artiste’-prone dramatic epic, starring, well, not the bankable Brad Pitt or George Clooney. It’s a great example of a reverse brand.

How do you apply that to BtoB marketing? Well, let’s start by taking advantage of the luxuries we have. Chief among them is that we introduce our products, for the most part, to experts. We’re communicating with people who live in “our world.” Unless we’re dealing with the jaded (there’s a whole different approach to that problem!), we’re dealing with true “category connoisseurs.” Film buffs, if you will.

They know how differentiation works for them, the way a sommelier knows how to pick the perfect wine. Red or White? Oak-y… or absolutely not!?

This group doesn’t have a particular brand preference – they certainly don’t drink Lafite every time they select a great wine. They love to try new things. These highly informed people may not be “early adopters” because they are highly selective. You do have to get their attention, though… and the best way is to differentiate.

Because we market to connoisseurs, they actually help us cut through. We can take advantage of – and respect – their expertise, honoring our buyers with something unique. Give them something different to try.

Obviously, neither ‘new’ nor ‘improved’ will help you be an outlier. So – how can you talk about your product, your company, using words that reflect a unique selling proposition? How do you come up with the strategy that is truly disruptive – that violates what’s currently available?

The best way is to create something. Something fresh. And then get your audience to experience it, to set their jaded side aside, to put on hold that state of cynicism.

Augmenting the current state of your product won’t accomplish that. Maybe it’s time for a reversal. Take the time to turn it upside down.

Moon suggests that marketers are leading the conversation for our time. That our work has become the soundtrack of our generation, setting the rhythm for what our society consumes, craves, loves – and hates.  Search for that great example of reversal. Perhaps, it will come from you.

By Ann Revell-Pechar – March 1, 2012

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