Tuesday 25 November 2014

Why it pays to be a cheating jerk

Originally published in marketingmag.com.au 14 November 2014

"Increasing your brand’s penetration is all about being a cheating jerk, writes Chris Ott. His furious encouragement of this may sound like a crazy new idea, but read on to find he’s actually advocating for a return to some traditional ways."

Screw loyalty. Don’t waste your time on the one you’re with. Target every woman and man you see. Penetrate as much as possible. Cheat.
On your customers, I mean.
Growing a brand is pretty simple. Either, get the people who already buy you to buy you more, or get the people who don’t buy you to buy you.
It’s the second one, increasing penetration, that has the greatest potential to boost sales – because from nothing to something is a massive jump.
Yet all new age media, digital marketing, social media, data driven loyalty programs, which promise the world, are all inherently built to engage your current customers and go after repeat-purchase – not really good at reaching new customers and growing your brand.
Why is chasing customers you already have, over going after new customers, an inefficient way to spend your marketing budget?
Well, unless people are stocking up for a zombie apocalypse they only really need to buy your brand once in any given cycle. Trying to sell them a new car when they just bought one, or a bottle of shampoo when they have a full bottle of your brand at home is a waste of your time and money.
You can’t get blood out of a stone.
Plus, simply by owning your product already, they are being exposed to your brand more frequently than any advertising could ever achieve.
So, how do you pick up a customer you don’t have, then? How do you reach someone that doesn’t have your brand in their repertoire already? In other words, How do you sleep around?
Simple! You interrupt people with a tried and tested thing called, wait for it… mass media.
Mass media can reach people who otherwise don’t even know you exist, plant a seed in their mind and increase the likelihood of them, next time they’re shopping in your category, buying you.
This is why TV will never die and why digital is too limiting to live up to its promise. TV and other traditional mass media is made to reach non-buyers.
Marketers’ love affair with hyper-loyalty is illogical. You need to get light and non-buyers to buy your brand if you want to grow. Anything else, or focussing on loyalists, only works as a defensive strategy and is a far more expensive way to increase sales.
So, sleep around. Don’t waste your time on the one you’re with. Target every woman and man you see, penetrate as much as possible, cheat, and grow your brand like never before.


  1. Hi Chris, I'm a big believer in Double Jeopardy and How Brands Grow. I implore brand managers to have their brand plans to focus on penetration, not frequency. But they're a skeptical lot, with strong traditional marketing backgrounds (a bright bunch too!). Even with data in front of them. The question they ask is, if we already have market penetration of 70% - can we really get more people to use us? They believe there is a ceiling and that frequency/loyalty is easier to get than penetration. I've managed this by asking them to focus on stabilising penetration (we've seen some decline) before focusing on increasing frequency. But maybe I"m selling myself out...

  2. Cheers for the question! I'd redefine their category for them so they don't have 70% share. Nike's a good example. They probably had very high market share in the 'sportswear' category. So what did they do? They made their market bigger by redefining it to include 'lifestyle' and 'street wear'. Essentially increasing the number of category buyers to pursue - and letting them continue to go after penetration. Cheers, Chris.