Sun, March 11 2007

Made to Stick Week: Finding Your Core aka Sweet Spot

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Years ago, my dad once gave me some really good advice about relationships - stick with people who bring out the best in you.  Better yet it should work both ways - that you bring out the best in the other person too.  I wish I’d followed this wise counsel my whole life. 

Don’t worry, you haven’t stumbled upon Dr. Phil’s blog.  I’m getting to my point, and the theme of my blog for the next week.

When we’re thinking about how to market ourselves as organizations, we need to think about what’s best in us, and how it matches with what our audience wants.  I put up the following nifty little diagram a long time ago, but it is worth running again. 

Picture3

It shows that you want to focus all your efforts on the marketing front - and the organizational front - on the intersection between:

-What your organization focuses upon (which is hopefully what you’re good at)
-What you do better than anyone else (what is completely unique about you)
-What your audience cares about

I think we’re pretty good at identifying the first two but we tend to forget that third circle.  PLEASE ADD THE THIRD CIRCLE TO ALL OF YOUR STRATEGIC THINKING.  Ron of BrandCurve posted a comment this week about email that takes it a step further - not only should you add the circle, he says you should then start a conversation.  I agree.

I think the real issue behind email effectiveness [all marketing, I’d say—KA] is the consumer’s willingness to participate and receive that mail [message]. Intrusive, one-way, monologue-like messages where the consumer has no say – are sure to stay closed!

We want a relationship with our target audiences, so to have that relationship, we need to not only think about ourselves but also how we

intersect

with them.  We need to bring our audience back into the picture.  The center of this diagram is our sweet spot, in our relationship with our audience but also for our organization in all we do.  It’s what will bring out the best in us!

I am focusing on this sweet spot, which is based on the work of some branding folks and which is related to Jim Collins’ hedgehog concept, because it’s also at the

core

of the best marketing book that I have read in a very, very long time: Made to Stick.  I am so enamored with this book, I am going to be blogging about it all week. 

It’s Sticky Week here at my blog.

One of the main points of Made to Stick is that simple, core concepts are what stick in people’s minds and guide whole organizations, and I think this is a useful way of viewing the idea of the sweet spot.  The authors of Made to Stick call the process of identifying this essence, “finding your core.” 

So what is your core, aka your sweet spot?  If you stuck to it - and only it - in deciding what to do and what to say, you might find yourself with a renewed sense of focus and heightened impact.  The books says Southwest Airlines succeeds in large part as an organization because it knows its sweet spot is low fares.  Every decision is weighed against this organizing principle—will this lower fares?

Much more to come.

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