Video Essay

How ladders alter your marketing strategies

Hi, my name’s Nate Bauer. I’m part of the board for PMG and today I want to talk to you about ladders, what they are, and how they potentially alter your marketing strategies. Ladders, quickly said, are a ranking of what customers think about your brand verse competing brands. So lets say a buddy comes to me say, “Nate, hey, I want to buy a camera. Which brand do you recommend?” I’m going to filter through all the different brands I know and I’m going to give my recommendation, but expand that thought process for the time being, list out all the different brands I was talking about, and then rank them from best to worst.

So, I’ve done that already—I’ve got them up here on the screen. At the top of my list is Canon; I think they’re the best brand. In the number two spot I’ve got Nikon. In number three I’ve got google which is an unusual choice but in this case it’s due to their pixel line of cellphone. Than in four I’ve got apple for the same reasoning. Then in five, six, and seven I’ve got Sony, Olympus, and Kodak if they’re still in existence for some reason. And voila, we’ve got ourselves a ladder. This is what a ladder looks like—albeit, in this case, based around my perception of what a good camera brand is. So what do you do with this information? The question is if you’ore one of these brands, how can you best alter your marketing strategy to sell to me? Let’s talk about that.

In the number one spot we’ve got Canon. Now, Canon has the advantage not because their products are actually any better but because all they have to do is market the industry that they’re in. Because my perception thinks that Canon is already the best brand, all they have to say is, “Nate, become a photographer. Lets explore the world of photography.” I’m already interested in buying their brand so I’m already sold to them. In the number two spot, Nikon, they don’t have this benefit. A common practice for the number two spot is to say Canon’s got this target audience, we’re going to go after this other target audience in stead. Canon’s got these list of benefits, we’re going to go after these other list of benefits, potentially an opposite list of benefits.

If you’re three or below, your best course of action is probably to focus on your differentiation as I think most marketers would probably agree with. In the number three spot we’ve got Google. Google is probably not comfortable saying that they’re the best camera in the world. However, they’re probably more comfortable saying they’re the best smartphone camera in the world. So rather than focusing on just a differentiation, more specifically, consider focusing on a differentiation that puts on you on a new ladder, one on which you’re the top rung, one you can comfortable and confidently dominate.

And that’s it! Those are different strategies depending on where you are on the rung of certain ladders. Now, what’s your next step? Your next step might be to research your customer base and your target audience, and figure out where you are among their ladders. And, more interestingly, if you have different segments and target audiences, explore where you are on segment one’s ladder, compare that to segment two, and if their rungs are different, you might want to consider altering your marketing strategy.

Remember, marketing is a battle of perception, not product.

That’s today’s one-minute marketing tip. A little longer than a minute but I think it was worth it. If you have any questions or comments, go ahead and leave them down below. Otherwise, I’ll see you at the next event.

Take care.

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