Would Twitter be as useful or popular if it didn’t restrict your messages to 140 characters? Would Groupon’s emails receive a better open rate if its audience didn’t know the offers were for 50% off? Would Southwest Airlines attract more business travelers if it served three-course meals during its flights? Would Jackson Pollock have sold more paintings if he did the occasional still life?
My answer to each of the above questions: not so much.
In each case, the marketer’s limitation serves a marketing purpose. It keeps the marketer from falling into the trap of being “everything to everyone.” It lets them hyper-concentrate on its marketing “sweet spot.” It helps the marketer occupy an important niche. The limitation is a key component in how its users view the marketer’s product, and in fact, is one of the reasons the audience finds it so useful and desirable.
In essence, these organizations’ limitations have become some of their biggest advantages.
Back to the Twitter example, there’s already a platform that allows for unlimited social conversation. It’s called email. Could you imagine the folly of “following” hundreds or thousands of Twitter voices via email?
While the limitations of the marketers mentioned here are more or less “self-imposed,” what about marketers who have their limitations thrust upon them? The mom-and-pop that’s forced to compete with a Big Box Store? The retail shop who doesn’t have the space to carry an exhaustive inventory? The small-market service business that’s competing against well-stocked big city firms for both business and talent?
I guarantee, within each limitation is a kernel of a pre-emptive advantage. It is incumbent on the marketer to recognize that kernel, and rather than paper it over, embrace it. Put it on steroids. Make sure everyone who does business with you recognizes that you’ve embraced your “limitation” and used it to provide something no other competitor can deliver.
After all, you’ll never be able to get a burger at Starbuck’s.
Posted by Mickey