At first glance, the online space give new businesses a great and vast platform in which to compete against the market leaders, however it’s not just about setting up a new business and going hell for leather, have you ever considered what it really takes to challenge the existing market leaders? This got me thinking about recruiting marketers or appointing agencies.
The brands that do it most effectively are known as challenger brands. These challengers do things differently to get noticed and they often end up redefining the marketplace. The other thing that occurs to me is these are the brands that are often new to the market and often employ people or agencies that have no experience in that sector.
In my career I’ve worked in a number of different market sectors. When I first worked in marketing I worked for an agency which carried out marketing activities for the commercial vehicle industry. This was fantastic for a young marketer, it meant I got to work with senior management at almost all the major automotive manufacturers and gave me so great insights.
One of the arguments we made about the agency was that we were the only marketing agency in the country solely dedicated to carrying out marketing for commercial vehicle manufacturers, we believed this gave us some special insight into the industry. In a way it did, I became well known in the industry and built up a geat deal of knowledge about the technology and the way business models operated in the industry. However, after almost 5 years marketing experience in the commercial vehicle industry I felt that I knew it, I felt that I knew how to do marketing for trucks and vans. This is a never a good place to be.
When you first enter an industry as a marketer it takes a while to get up to speed, however I believe a regular change of category is really beneficial to a marketer and very important for the business you’ve just started working for. Likewise I have come to believe that whilst it’s good to find those specialist agencies for things like market research, when it comes to creative marketing I’d always suggest looking for an agency which deals with a broad breadth of sectors.
When you work in the same industry, sector or category you tend to find your way of doing things that work for you, it’s your marketing modus operandi. When you enter an industry you’re unfamiliar with, all you can do is bring what you know with you and try to implement it whilst you try to work out how to make marketing work for that category. The great thing about this is you will inject a new way of looking at marketing to that industry, which is coloured by the lens of working in a different industry. I reckon you’ve got around 3 or 4 months with this before you start to pick up the old habits of the sector. So it’s in that first few months that as a marketer you’re able to make the most impact on how you are going to manage your marketing activities for the time you’re working with that company.
This should give all those looking to recruit a marketing department a steer, if you want to get some real insight and work out how to do things differently, you should definitely bring people in from outside your industry and try to liberate them from any preconceived institutional believes. Not easy I know.
Saying all that, if you’re recruiting a senior management team and are looking to inject a marketer in that team it’s perhaps a good idea to bring someone in that has previously worked in the industry or worked in a closely related industry. At a senior level, you can benefit from contacts that a senior figure in an industry will bring with them – but again, make sure that’s what you actually need!
This isn’t just my opinion either, there has been a great deal on research into the benefits of Intelligent Naivety, that is, the benefits of having experts in their field who are naïve to their new industry.
I write about marketing so the title of their piece is all about marketing however I believe it could just as well be about the people in the team in general. If you hire people that are experts in their specialism but have no or limited specialism in their new industry you have a chance of doing things differently and that’s what a challenger brand needs to do.
Of courses there are a lot of other things a challenger brand needs to consider as it grows up, and not all these are going to be answered by getting different types of people in, however it’s the people that give a business its foundations for growth.
To figure out what types of marketers you need to get onboard you need to look at what the rest of the industry and specifically what the market leaders are doing. If the product or service is in a boring industry, where all the businesses are very professional, it’s probably going to be a good idea to develop an irreverent brand. Likewise if you work in an industry full of companies like Innocent, then maybe you need to think about how to play on being established, trustworthy. Picking the right kind of marketers is important to achieve this because marketers naturally imbue a bit of their soul and personality into the brand. Everyone in a business does this of course, however due to their closeness to the way the brand is developed and projected marketers have more of an impact.
So pick your people or agencies well, remember the concept of intelligent naivety and make thinking differently a core component of your businesses culture – that’s a good start for those businesses wishing to attain challenger status.