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Posted: June 19, 2013

Create demand with your brand

Here are some best practices

Lida Citro├źn

As you position your company in the market, are you creating demand for your product or service? Or is your business competing on price, losing opportunities to online competitors or seeing an attrition of your best employees? Whether the impact you’re experiencing is affecting your financial or human capital bottom line, brands should create demand in the marketplace to survive and thrive.

I truly believe in the power of creating a compelling brand that aligns with the unique and timely needs of a specific audience. When a client approaches us and wants to be “everything to everyone” or tries to target “anyone with a pulse and a checkbook,” their strategies have typically been reactive and unsuccessful.

Many of our clients, however, seek a more exclusive brand. Our clients typically bring high-priced/high-value offers (as companies, technology solutions or executives) and are not marketing to a broad audience. This is certainly our sweet spot!

When a brand seeks to create a high demand for its product or service, there are some best practices we follow:

1. Limited supply creates demand. Remember the last time you spotted an item you really wanted but they only had “one left... in the back,” and you just HAD to snatch it up before it was too late? Scarcity drives us to feel we will miss out, so we buy. At a retail level, this drives demand and impulse shopping. For exclusive positioning of a service or offer, it is imperative that the integrity of the offer (demand) be upheld -- if we say there is scarcity, then the client better not be able to find it available elsewhere.
2. High price drives demand. When an item is desirable and it is priced out of reach, clients often stretch for it. We see this with everything from expensive and well-branded luxury items, like cars and jewelry -- think little blue box -- to premiere legal services and financial representation. At one point in my career, I worked for a global, high-priced law firm. In the Colorado market, we only targeted 3% of the market. We were not trying to attract people looking for representation calling from jail... We targeted the top tier companies that had everything to lose if a deal/suit went sour. They paid a high premium to hire our firm -- If our lawyers couldn’t fix it, the company’s shareholders could be assured that no one could have.
3. Limited access creates exclusivity. If anyone can get on your managing partner’s calendar, then how special could it really be? Creating demand means limiting access. I remember when I lived in Los Angeles, I had a contact who was a well-known restaurant reviewer. He told me he used to call “top” restaurants on a Wednesday to see if he could get a reservation for a four-top table for that Saturday night. If the restaurant had availability, then business must be on the downslide.

Similarly, years ago I worked with a well known venture capitalist who helped pioneer and foster some of the best innovation in the education industry. He was in high demand for his insights, expertise and experience set. When he spoke at conferences, the line to ask him questions afterwards went out the door.  He was also a very social person, and when we started working together he was active on Twitter. He gave away a lot of advice, resources and contacts online. This was, in fact, diluting his brand, because his generosity was affecting demand for his talents. As we pulled back some of his online activity, demand for his attention (and expertise) increased, thus increasing his value to his market.

Even Walmart and Target focus on specific customers. Walmart shoppers appreciate the friendly greeting at the front door, and look for special offers and promotions around the store to ensure they are getting the best price on toothpaste or coffee makers in town.  They don’t particularly care about great customer service, as long as they are getting the lowest price. Target customers, on the other hand, appreciate the name brands that Target pulls through its offer -- from Giada DiLaurentis cooking tools to Sam & Libby sandals. Target is an affordable offer, but it recognizes that its target customer knows brands and appreciates being able to get them at Target at a good price.

Consider whether your brand offer has become diluted as you’ve tried to market to broader audiences during a sluggish economy. Perhaps you’ve lost integrity in the brand vision and promise you set out to serve your core market? Maybe you’ve approached online marketing without a clear strategy tied to business and brand objectives?

Now is the time to reevaluate. If creating demand is vital to your company’s brand, then create the tools and programs to build market demand.

Lida Citroën is the author of Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition and Principal of LIDA360, a consulting firm that helps create effective market positioning through the use of brand strategies. She regularly presents at conferences, events and programs, teaching transitioning veterans how to understand their unique value and market them to future employers.

Citroën is an active member of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and works closely with General Peter Pace’s program in Philadelphia, Wall Street Warfighters Foundation (WSWF). For more information, please visit, www.yournextmissionbook.com  and connect with her on twitter, @LIDA360.
   

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