It’s Time to Change Your Marketing Game

Find a new way to play and win the game!

Diana Lillicrap 2.05.2016

Most companies focus on competing against known rivals and gaining market share by incremental improvements to product, service, or price. That’s a game that’s really hard to win because everyone is pretty much doing the same thing, just trying to do it better.

To break out of that traditional pattern of thinking, you need to change the game and create an entirely new market space.


To do this, you need to look across the conventionally defined boundaries of your competition and find new opportunities or unoccupied territories where you can offer your customers new value. Let me share two examples.

Look at substitute industries

Consumers make choices and weigh substitutes for every decision. Oftentimes, those substitutions are not between you and your known competitors.

A great example of this is Home Depot. They’ve created a whole new category of DIY customers because they realized that their biggest competitor wasn’t Lowe’s. For ordinary homeowners, it was a decision to hire a general contractor or do it themselves.

So Home Depot put its marketing efforts towards targeting people who wanted to save money but weren’t sure if they could really do it themselves. They recruited sales associates that had significant experience, such as carpenters and painters. They offered in-store clinics to teach customers how-to skills like plumbing and wiring, and they launched their “Let’s do this” campaign to motivate homeowners to take on do-it-yourself projects.

Evolve your offering to create new demand

Green Mountain Coffee was a typical bean producer competing against other coffee bean companies as well as coffee “experience” providers, like Starbucks.

To thrive in the extremely competitive coffee market, they realized they had to think about how to provide customers with their coffee in a new way that could beat out the Starbucks experience.

They started by exploring innovation around the idea of buying a single cup of coffee. They analyzed the benefits (it’s customized, personal, efficient, and full-service) and they looked at the drawbacks (it’s costly, requires going someplace, and not always a consistent experience). The results of their research led to a fresh new idea to evolve their product (coffee beans) into a single-cup gourmet experience that could be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. The Keurig K-Cup was born and Green Mountain Coffee had created an entirely new marketplace to sell its beans.

So what can you do?

If you want to change the game, you need to think about what new audiences you can reach. How can you promote your product or service for a new use or in a new context? And what new marketplace can you create? Because the best way to win the game is to change it and leave your competition behind in the old game.

Did this spark an idea? Let's talk!

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