So I am having lunch with a group of car dealers. All wealthy, successful businesspeople, selling a rapidly growing challenger in the luxury car market.
The man on my left runs the largest and most successful dealership for this brand in the entire continent, and so I ask him what his secret is. He thinks he should be asking the questions, so he asks me a question right back – and then, being a car dealer, answers it for me before I can reply.
His question is: What, in all your research, have you found to be the most important ingredient in successfully selling something?
His answer: The most important element in selling anything is Belief. Look around us, he said. The reason my salespeople have sold more of this brand than any other dealership in this room is that I got them to believe completely in this brand, and what it stood for. If as a leader you can get them not simply to understand, but to absolutely believe in something, then selling it is easy.
If one interviews successful challenger brand leaders, the key factor they tend to point to in their success is their culture: their people are often much younger and more inexperienced than those working at the market leader, but they have a fierce belief in what they are doing and why they are doing it that is almost entirely lacking at the competition. And this belief is almost palpable in every way their brand behaves and speaks – in the resulting tone, in the energy, in the clarity over whom they are speaking to (and not), and in the risks they are prepared to take.
So of course we need to understand our consumer to be successful marketers. But we also need to understand ourselves – how to push beyond simply ‘coming up with a good positioning’ and instead understand that if we want them to believe in us, we need to believe much more fiercely in our brands first.
This article first appeared in Campiagn Asia-Pacific