November 17, 2011

Don’t outspend them. Outsmart them.

Who frames the debate?

Persuasion leading to rhetorical victory leading to a buyer decision often comes from the side that can successfully frame the debate. Once that happens, it’s over before it begins.

A candidate says the election about the economy. His opponent says deficit reduction.

Your product is low-calorie, your competitor’s is bacon-wrapped.

The way to outsmart your competitor is to convince the audience to measure with the yardstick you provide: it’s about cost, so compare prices, or, it’s about speed, so who has more horsepower, or, it’s about self-esteem, so pay a little more for the L’Oreal.

It’s isn’t easy to execute this winning strategy, but employing the wrong strategy is going to lose no matter how creatively you craft the messaging.

And one sure way to lose? Claim to be about more than one thing. Many a retailer, for example, sends out un-persuasive flabby messages claiming to be about quality and price and service. Tiffany, Wal-Mart and Nordstrom don’t fall into that trap, but take one each, thank you.