Sunday, November 6 2011
IT’S SAME-O, SAME-O, ALL OVER AGAIN
Same-O, Same-O: doing something in the same way everyone else is doing it,
and/or the same way we’ve always done it
Pardon us for borrowing from Yogi Berra, former New York Yankee great and Baseball Hall of Famer, who said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” We’ve tackled the subject of differentiating your brand in its messaging over the past two DISPATCHES’ releases. Yet just a week ago someone threw out the challenge, posed as a question, “If same-o, same-o is not effective then why is nearly everyone in the category messaging the same way?”
Obviously, we have not yet nailed it (to avoid same-o, same-o messaging, and marketing for that matter, like the plague) for everyone. Perhaps, we should be content with the knowledge that 10% don’t get the word (and probably never will!). However, we challenge ourselves to be more compelling in our messaging so as to trigger marketers’ behavior to avoid same-o, same-o (as your competitors and/or the way you have always done it) in your messaging to customers. So we are going to try one more time (play it again Sam), in another key, in the hope of resonating with more marketers.
As per the reasons-why marketers engage in same-o, same-o, you might want to click here to read the initial article on this subject which spells out the factors leading to this non-competitive and non-productive practice.
Truth is Stranger than Fiction
Marketers are not alone in employing practices that do not work, or no longer work. Perhaps, at one time the specific message and way of messaging (execution) was effective. But when you have evidence to the contrary, as in an unfavorable ROI (return on investment), new information, and/or insight borne from observation and sound reasoning, it’s time to move along and adopt new practices.
Here are some things that people through the ages either thought to be true or sound practices:
- The sun revolves around the earth.
- The earth is flat.
- Spontaneous generation – life could emerge from inanimate objects.
- Lobotomy is a valid way to cure mental illness (or PMS mood swings in women).
- Doctors employed bloodletting (draining copious quantities of patients’ blood) for more than 2000 years in the belief that it would cure just about any physical ailment.
- Albert, Duke of York, who went on to become King George VI, was advised by his physician to smoke in order to relax his throat to overcome stuttering.
- Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it’s black.”
Could these beliefs or practices be any stranger, particularly given what we know today? Yet this is what the majority, or those in power, believed. People were burned at the stake for believing that the sun, not the earth, was the center of our universe. It took someone with vision to set sail across a vast sea to discover new lands. Thank goodness medical practices, and civilized society, have changed to be based upon science, not superstition, nor unfounded assumptions, or chauvinism. While the idea of spontaneous generation survived for more than 1000-years, Louis Pasteur proved that this is most certainly not the case. We’ve learned that sucking smoke into the lungs is more likely to kill you (and others with the second hand smoke) than cure anything. And, small thanks that cars do come in many other colors besides black because we want our vehicles to reflect, in part, an image we’d like to impart about ourselves.
The herd, and those and power, are not always correct. This is so very true when it comes to practicing homogeneity (following the crowd, being part of the herd) in messaging when attempting to change behaviors and drive preference! Those that espouse homogeneity in messaging should consider the world is not flat, if they wish to discover new lands, ripe with opportunity.
Ponder This …
Here’s a meditation (noun - pondering of something) about competing for a job that might put the practice of same-o, same-o in perspective for you. Imagine you are vying for a new position with another company. You wake-up on the morning of your interview and begin grooming so that you might look your best, and standout from any other candidates for the position. You go to your closet to select your clothing. You want something that is conservative, but not old fashioned. You select a “sincere” blue outfit that you reserve for times when you must make a presentation, and important occasions such as this one.
You arrive at your destination 15-minutes before the scheduled interview. As you step into the elevator you notice that there are five people already in it with the same outfit, all of the same gender. The only floor number punched into the elevator is the floor where you will take your scheduled interview. When the elevator doors open on the designated floor all six people spill out and head for the same office. Remarkably you are all there to interview for the same job.
You all look the same, exactly the same, from the top of your head down to your shoes. You all share the same accoutrements. You are cookie cutter versions of each other. And, now you are all occupying the same space. You all have the same pedigree (education, work experiences, etc.). You have the same values, outlook on life, and character. Unbeknownst to you, you all answer the interviewer’s questions with the same exact answers. You all flash a smile, displaying pearly white teeth, as you answer each question. You all have identical goals. You all make the same promises to your prospective employer.
So, when the interviews are completed, will you be the one to be hired? Which of the interviewees stands apart from, and above, the crowd? How will the interviewer make her decision on whom to hire? There are no differences. You are all cut from the same cloth. You appeared, and conducted yourself, as you had gleaned from information about what it took to be successful in a job interview. Perhaps, you might have been successful in the past with these same practices. Yet because you are the same, and because the market has moved-on, you have no better chance of succeeding then the next person, or the previous person, or the many other persons to come!
This is the impact of same-o, same-o. Now do you really think you are going to make an impact with the same messaging as your competitors, delivered in the same way? Get real. You don’t have a chance. In fact, whom you know will make probably spell the difference in winning or losing. In other words customers will choose what they have been using. They will default to their basic brand thinking that what they’ve seen is for their brand (even though it is your communication). So with same-o, same-o we fail to trigger the behavior change we seek. With same-o, same-o we undermine real and/or perceived differences and, ultimately, ROI.
BOATS & HELICOPTERS:
Is it necessary for us to remind you to avoid same-o, same-o in your messaging and execution? Is it necessary for us to reiterate that you should seek to be different? Is it necessary for us to encourage you to seek BIG Ideas? Is it necessary to include additional practices to the ones we’ve already offered in our two previous articles on this subject? If it is, then we’ve failed you. However, we do believe it is necessary to remind ourselves that any differences MUST be relevant to your target-customer, and meaningfully differentiated.
Toss aside same-o, same-o. Viva la relevant difference!
Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney
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