Who You Are

Aug 25, 2011

It was reported earlier this year that Pepsi had fallen to No. 3 on the top-selling soft drink list in the U.S., trailing not only Coca-Cola but Diet Coke as well.

Asked about the decline, some advertising professionals pointed to PepsiCo’s failure to properly promote its main product-Pepsi-heading into summer. The company, they said, had focused its advertising on branding, related specialty drinks and even its charitable efforts instead of steadily pushing its core product.

If the American public needs to be reminded that Pepsi still sells Pepsi, it stands to reason that smaller businesses also need to continually reinforce their message and product mix to keep connecting with customers.

For speed shops and performance retailers, this can be easier said than done. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of potential products for your clients to choose from, and focusing on one over the others may not be feasible.

However, we all know the story of the person-or company-that tried to please everyone. So, what to do?

In his ongoing series on strategic planning, columnist Dick Dixon has an answer. He suggests companies find their “competitive advantage” and build their marketing message around it.

“To compete, you must have a unique advantage. It’s not a list of your strengths, because all successful businesses have a good reputation, skilled staff, great leadership, are knowledgeable, have a strong client list, are responsive to clients’ needs, etc.,” he says. “Specifically, a competitive advantage comes from leveraging a company’s unique skills and resources to implement a strategy that competitors cannot implement as effectively or copy.”

Are you the oldest speed shop in your area? Do you employ a past racing series champion, offer unique dyno tuning services or have a great location? Highlighting advantages that your competitors can’t match allows you to stand out and provides a reason for customers to give you a try.

It also helps determine exactly who you are as a company. And that’s going to be important as new marketing methods and social media continue to change the way small businesses advertise.

In his column on search engine marketing, Phil Sasso explains that using a program such as Google’s Adwords allows a shop’s website to pop up in local online searches for specific products. The more shops know exactly what their customers are searching for, the more effective their advertising campaign will be.

You may think that your reputation for performance exhaust installation is what attracts the majority of your customers. But if online searches for intakes bring you 75 percent of your website hits, then you’ll know to focus on your intake selection as well.

The good news is that if your business has survived over the past few years, chances are you have a pretty good understanding of what your shop does well, and have been able to effectively communicate that message to your customers.

But as a company as big as Pepsi has shown, it never hurts to remind clients who you are and what you do.