The 3 ways to “SMS” (Sell More Stuff)

The role of marketing is not to "create emotional engagement", "delight customers" or, the flavour of the month, "ignite conversations". Its role is simply to "SMS" = SELL MORE STUFF. And in this post we look at the 3 ways you can SMS on your core business.

This post pulls together in one place a lot of the topics I've been writing on over the past few months relating to Byron Sharp's book, "How Brands Grow".

Building the brand by building the business

Of course, its better to SMS in a way that enhances brand equity. This should create growth that is more sustainable, rather than just "piling it high and selling it cheap", as Tesco have found out the hard way. But most marketers seem pretty good at coming up with "on-brand" ideas. Where marketers often fall down is coming up with ideas that can SMS. And in particular, how to SMS by growing the core, rather than by trying to stretch their brand into new markets.

How brands grow: 2 + 1 steps to SMS

The first two steps to SMS come from Byron's book. They both involve driving penetration – making your brand more popular so it has a wider group of people using it:

1. Physical availability

2. Mental availability

To this, we have added a growth driver not covered in How Brands Grow, because the book's focus is on volume not value share:

3. Premiumisation

I've pulled these 3 SMS drivers together on one page: see below.

Screen Shot 2012-05-01 at 08.01.30
1. Physical availability

This SMS driver involves getting your brand available in more places. Of all the ways to grow, its the one I'd bet my pension on. If you do a social media campaign, who knows what will happen. If you get your brand sold in more places, you will SMS. And increasingly this is the key challenge for brands, given the ever growing power of the retailers.

You can drive physical availability in three main ways:

– Extending distribution in existing channels e.g. getting more listings in Tesco for a grocery brand

– Multipple sitings in store e.g. Coke selling chilled bottles at the store exit

– New channels e.g. Cup-a-Soup expanding into in-office vending

2. Mental availability

Being physically available is a great start to SMS. But to be truly effective, a brand also needs mental availability: being "recalled and relevant" at the moment of truth, when someone decides what to buy. In most cases, shoppers start with a category, and then figure out which brand to buy. For example, "Oh yes, I need to buy ketchup. What shall I buy?".

Mental availability is built by creating and amplifying distinctive brand properties, such as logos, slogans and music. This can be done in communication, as the Dolmio family and endline "When'sa your Dolmio Day?"

Screen Shot 2012-05-04 at 09.27.40
Brand identity is also key here. Most powerful of all is creating a brand property that can be activated across the mix, including communication. A good example is Felix catfood, who have consistently used their Felix the cat character across the whole mix. And then there is activation, where brands can create and nurture activation properties over time. Given the chopping and changing of most brand's marketing, few activation ideas ever turn into memory structure. Nike's Run London, Red Bull's Air Race and innocent's Big Knit would be some examples.

3. Premiumisation

The final step to SMS heaven is one not covered in How Brands Grow: premiumisation. Done well, premiumisation allows a brand to deliver more revenue and gross profit per unit sold. There are two main ways to do this:

– Added value formats: Heinz upside-down plastic bottle, which made using the product easier and made more profit per bottle for the company

– Added value versions: extending the core range with premium products delivering better performance, such as Gillette's continuous upgrading of its razor offer.

Screen Shot 2012-05-04 at 09.30.34
In conclusion, if you want to grow, there's 3 ways to know: drive physical availability (more places), mental availability (more memory structure) and premiumisation (more money).