You Simply HAVE to Become a Market Leader

You've probably realized that traditional ways to get your message heard are not working. You need to find new ways. Even large corporations need to reinvent the way they communicate with their markets. Talking about Dish Network's ad-skipping service called Auto Hop, Chairman Charlie Ergen said in an article in the Wall Street Journal last Thursday, "Ultimately, broadcasters and advertisers have to change the way they do business or they run the risk of linear TV becoming obsolete." His comment came a few days after a blog by Henry Blodget titled: Don't Mean to be Alarmist, but the TV Business May be Starting to Collapse also quoted in CNNMoney. Blodget points out that:
  • We almost never watch television shows when they are broadcast anymore
  • We rarely watch shows with ads, even on a DVR
  • We watch a lot of TV and movie content, but always on demand and almost never with ads
  • We get our news from the Internet
  • We watch TV and movie content on 4 different screens, depending on which is convenient
Media advertising is no longer what it used to be and social media advertising may not be much better. The low cost of digital marketing removes the barrier of entry so that anyone can and almost everyone does promote themselves and their products on social media. This creates a marketing noise that drowns out most attempts to be heard. Only 18% of SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises) using Google Adwords actually recoup their investment, according to socialmediatoday.com. Even large companies like GM stopped advertising on FaceBook claiming that "paid ads on the site have little impact on consumers' car purchases." So how do SMEs who don't have deep pockets of advertising budget get their messages heard? I am no marketing expert, but I am an expert in leadership, and I believe the new marketing paradigm comes from intersecting these two disciplines: marketing and leadership. Becoming a market leader might be the most potent form of marketing going forward, and any company or individual can do it if they are committed to it, persistent, patient and authentic in what they say and do. Market leadership is different from marketing. Marketing informs and seduces. Market leadership changes the way people think and sometimes it even changes their way of life. Think Apple, Google, Amazon, Southwest Airlines and Wholefoods. These companies changed the way we live and the way we think about communication, information, entertainment, music, travel and groceries. They are market leaders. But market leadership is by no means restricted to corporate giants like these companies. Anyone can become a market leader. Consider Gary Vaynerchuk (VAY NER CHUK) whose Russian immigrant parents owned a wine store in Springfield, New Jersey. Bored at the cash register, Gary began reading Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate and realized collecting wine offered an allure similar to his previous hobby of collecting baseball cards. With a wealth of knowledge and an entrepreneurial spirit, Gary spent every weekend of his college years at his parents' store, rebranding the family business as Wine Library and establishing himself as a respected expert. Within a five year time period, Wine Library grew from a $4 million dollar business to a $45 million business. Using YouTube and his video blog Gary has attracted a cult-like following of more than 80,000 viewers a day. Gary rose above the on-line marketing clatter by becoming a market leader rather than a marketer. He leads his market by demonstrating his expertise and sharing it with his market. He gets known by being what Seth Godin calls remarkable - worthy of remark. So people remark to others about him. Gary differentiated himself with his unconventional, often irreverent commentary on wine. There are many ways to differentiate oneself - they don't need to be unconventional and certainly they don't need to be irreverent! You can differentiate yourself by your character, personal stature and daily conduct, influencing more people than you can imagine. When you are differentiated people notice you. You influence the way people think by the content and style of your daily communication. You influence the way people feel by the way you connect and empathize with them. Every interaction with another person is an opportunity to change the way that individual thinks and feels about you and the product or business you represent. Market leaders, whether individuals or corporations, influence customer choice with the trust and admiration that people feel for the company or individual, not just with the power of their advertising budgets. Millions of people follow Apple because they trust and admire the company not only because of its brilliant marketing or its robust technology and its sexy products. Netflix lost customers in droves when it lost their trust even though their product and technology didn't change. You can coerce customers with discounts or penalties, motivate them with loyalty programs and manipulate them with marketing. But coercion, motivation or manipulation are not manifestations of leadership. To lead people you need character, and to lead your market you need corporate character. Every employee is an agent of market leadership. Their conduct in and outside of their working hours and place of work builds or undermines your corporate character. The way people experience your employees raises or lowers their trust in your brand and their admiration of it. Management decisions and behavior express your corporate character. The degree to which you support the communities in which you operate and the ways in which you do so express your corporate character and build brand followship. Market leadership, like the leadership of people, is not a transaction; it is an investment. Investments compound and market leadership compounds too. You start off accumulating one follower, and then a second and a third. Much later on if you keep sharing your expertise to consistently add value to your market, people advocate you to others they influence and your leadership grows. So unlike marketing which just needs a marketing budget, market leadership needs a humble beginning, a lot of patience and the investment of time in yourself, your knowledge and expertise, your communication skills and in the generous sharing of your time and knowledge with others. Unlike marketing, market leadership requires that you are a person of character, knowledge and stature. If you are a business it requires that your business develops corporate character and corporate stature. This is why there are not many market leaders, and why market leadership is a relatively uncontested space in the midst of the clamor to be heard. Step into this space:
  1. Identify the area of your expertise and the market or community of people you wish to lead.
  2. Study from the finest thinkers in your field.
  3. Develop accurate and engaging techniques of communication - oral and written.
  4. Reflect on what you learn so that you begin to develop your own angles and thoughts in your field.
  5. Once you have expanded your knowledge base, trust your intuitive insight to identify ideas and to express your thoughts and opinions.
  6. Convert your insights into principles of value that others can use to enrich their lives and share, share, share in the media that your market or community use .
  7. At all times work on your own character, grow it, refine it and develop it to the fullness of its potential. It is your character that gives your words and thoughts the weight to be noticed and acted on.
 

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