Never Ending Fight for Market Share
By Edward McMahon
“The Red Queen told Alice that she must run as fast as she knew how just to stay where she was.”* And so it is in business.
Bruce Henderson of the Boston Consulting Group** was a thoughtful pamphleteer in the late 70’s. He often provided meaningful challenges to those of us in the marketing game. He talked endlessly of market share, market segmentation and market differentiation. Most of what he said is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago.
Today more than ever, we must understand our market, our target audience, our market segment and what it is that differentiates us from our competition. Too many fail to understand; too many fail to develop their competitive advantages vs. those fighting us in the marketplace. The market place is overwhelmed with choices. It is you, the entrepreneur, who must decide ” why me, not them.”
Is it your product offering, your location or perhaps your pricing? You must have a clear vision of the target audience you wish to serve, whether it be a retail store, E-commerce, catalogs or direct mail, network marketing or others. That becomes the basis of your marketing strategy.
The steps are clear.
1 Review your product offerings. Have they changed?
2 Define your audience, segment it by demographics and design a plan to conquer that segment.
3 Define a plan that on one hand clearly identifies your company as the one best to serve that segment and at the same time differentiates you from your competition. The plan should include advertising, sales promotion and selling strategies to convince your target audience that your product offering is best to serve them.
4 Clearly define the benefits and features of your product offering, be it price, quality, varied options or whatever.
Is K-Mart different than Target and Walmart? You bet, and their performance proves it. Recently a survey was taken that clearly show that Walmart had a better grasp on their target audience than their two competitors. K- Mart was a distant 3rd, in all demographic segments. K-Mart should have known that. They should have studied their target audience and their competitors. If they had they might not be in bankruptcy proceedings now because the data clearly showed they were not properly serving their audience. Or perhaps they knew and like so many marketers choose not to believe.
Are the close cousins Sam’s and Walmart different? Though they have the same large volume concept, they clearly differentiate themselves even standing within a mile of one another. Is there a difference between Mexican restaurants, Steak houses or Chinese restaurants; between boutique clothing shops, ladies shoe stores or kids clothing stores? How do they differentiate themselves and attempt to dominate their segment.
Is Foley’s different than Dillards and Nieman Marcus. Perhaps no where do manufactures identify their customers better than the automobile industry competing on multi levels of price, quality and performance?
Regardless of how big or small the business, the one who clearly understands it’s target audience, its market segment and plans to differentiate itself from the competition will win the day.
To those who are satisfied being copycats, to only do what everyone else is doing, fails to understand the evocation to run as fast as you can to merely stay in place and will inevitably fall by the wayside, a victim of being just another marketer.
So put on your running shoes, rework your marketing plan and decide that dominating is this years objective,
*The Red Queen was a character in Lewis Carrolls “Through the Looking Glass
** The Boston Consulting Group, Inc Perspectives “To Each His Own”
Ed McMahon, MBA is the author of “Understanding Small Business” and is a graduate of Villanovo U., City University of New York and completed post graduate work at Stanford U, grad. school of Business. Ed has extensive experience as an owner, investor and counselor. He has taught Industrial marketing at the graduate school level, bookkeeping and accounting at a business college and has taught Understanding Small Business workshops at the Junior/community college level/ He has a monthly column in a regional business journal for the past 6 years.