Winning by changing the scoring system ~ Brand Mix

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Winning by changing the scoring system

I've been in the middle of reading: "The Metric behind the Slogan" by Michael Schrage in strategy + business for some time now (requires registration to read). Somehow, work projects, Thanksgiving, other things to read and playdates (for the kids) have gotten in the way. It's not even that long.

Here's the one nugget I've already gleaned. James Watt was not only a mechanical genius but also a marketing genius too. Faced with the dilemma of how to get 18th century brewmasters to use his steam engines to turn their mills' grindstones instead of horses, he invented the term horsepower. Brilliant! By comparing his steam engine output to a team of horses, he developed a very persuasive tool to help build his Boulton & Watt brand.

As I skim the rest of the article, I see other examples: Carrier's work on establishing air conditioning metrics, Ivory's 99.44% pure soap as well as Intel's MIPS performance standard.

I was reminded of this article when I read Jack Trout's post: "Price Reductions Threaten Brands." He points to the dangers of getting sucked into price competition. If that becomes your focus: "What you're doing is making price the main consideration for picking you over your competition. That's not a healthy way to go."

He recommends several approaches of getting around a price attack but the one that caught my attention was to "shift the argument." Try and find a way to move the conversation from one metric (in this case price) to another. His example is "total cost" which luxury car makers like Mercedes have used to shift the discussion from price at purchase to price over the life of the vehicle. Total cost accounts for the longer life and lower maintenance costs of luxury cars so leads to a more favorable metric for comparison.

Something to consider. Are there ways in your business that you can change or set up the way success is measured for your advantage?

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