The quote “Hit ‘em where they ain’t” is taken from baseball. No, it wasn’t uttered by Yogi Berra, the late, great, Baseball Hall of Fame, Yankee catcher known for his aphorisms, malapropisms, and Yogi-isms, such as “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”
Instead, it was voiced by William “Wee Willie” Keeler at the turn of the 19th century when asked what made him a great hitter. Standing at merely five-feet, four-inches, Willie was one of the best hitters of all time with a 341-batting average in 19-seasons. In 1897 he averaged a phenomenal 424!
What does it mean? Simply stated, hit the ball where the opposing players aren’t positioned. That’s how a ballplayer gets hits—providing the ball is in the field of play.
What’s it mean to us, marketers? Occupy space where competition is absent, can’t, or won’t go. It’s all about creating differentiation to connect with customers. One productive way is to go in the opposite direction of your competition. Do a 180!
While beauty care brands tout anti-aging and growing younger, Laura Keller Beauty encourages women to embrace aging. What?!?
A video featuring 1980’s supermodel Paulina Porizkova for Laura Keller Beauty invites women to “Let’s Get Old Together” to be your best ever. Find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKAHzVT8jSE
The Dove Brand got real. Their “Campaign for Real Beauty” exposed the deceptive practices of the beauty industry and its false promises. We’re not going to be glamor-pusses with perfect, unblemished skin or hair unless we are a rarity or live in a digital space where airbrushing is available. Instead, they promise to help reveal your natural beauty.
We had a client who said she didn’t understand why the Dove Brand enjoyed success? She stated they had poor-performing products. That’s certainly debatable. What’s not debatable is that their differentiated campaign helped grow the brand from $2.5 – 4.0-billion in the years 2014 – 2020.
Nexium OTC did the opposite of PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitor) competitors. Instead of claiming relief from GERD (acid reflux) after ingesting foods, they encouraged sufferers to use it prophylactically to celebrate eating the foods they love without suffering unwelcome distress.
While the Cola wars were raging between Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, 7-Up celebrated its obvious difference. No, 7-Up is not a Cola. It unabashedly declared itself “the UNCOLA.” Ads featured the late, multi-talented Trinidadian American actor, dancer, musician, and artist Geoffrey Holder as the spokesperson. He was perfect in evoking the brand’s fresh, clean taste. See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXmc7DG4uu8
The 7-Up example of its difference, if I may use the words of Mr. Holder in expressing his love for the brand, is “marvelous. Absolutely marvelous.”
Credit card companies have long appealed to the psychological need for prestige. You are not merely an American Express cardholder. You are a “member!” It’s sort of a club that you must be approved to join. Visa made itself known for being “accepted everywhere (i.e., prestige locales) you want to be.” MasterCard couldn’t out-prestige the two big brands duking it out over prestige. MasterCard was purely utilitarian.
What to do? MasterCard went in the opposite direction. They chose not to “keep up with the Jones.” Instead, the brand appealed to and celebrated “credit card pragmatists.” Namely, those consumers who used their credit cards for things they truly needed (not desired to keep up with their neighbors) for those “priceless” moments. “There are some things money can’t buy; for everything else, there’s MasterCard.” That differentiation is priceless!
The MasterCard brand, which had been declining, experienced a stunning reversal, growing to overtake Visa. It achieved great success by going in the opposite direction of its competitors.
Explore this approach to differentiating your brand. “Hit ‘em where they ain’t” by going in the opposite direction from your competitors.
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Resolve to make marketing matter more in 2022. Please read Richard’s most recent book, AVOIDING CRITICAL MARKETING ERRORS: How to Go from Dumb to Smart Marketing. Learn more here: http://bdn-intl.com/avoiding-critical-marketing-errors. It will help you avoid critical marketing errors and, importantly, suggest actions you can take to make your marketing matter even more.
Peace and best wishes,
Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney