What happens when you don’t know your WHAT, or in the case of Quiznos, you don’t evolve your WHAT?
I don’t claim to know the reasons why Quiznos corporate is about to declare bankruptcy as reported by this Wall Street Journal article. However as this story from Yahoo Business points out Stellar days for sandwich sellers pass Quiznos by it’s not because sandwich shops are trending down. Quite the contrary.
Why internal issues certainly are driving much of the company’s financial issues, from an outside observance, it appears from reaching a high watermark of about 5000 locations, Quiznos failed to evolve their WHAT, which at one time was their “MMMM…Toasty!” iconic visual and audio logo.
I do confess to loving Quiznos over Subway. Yet when Subway began installing toaster ovens to offer their customers the same distinctiveness that Quiznos provided the company should have took notice and evolved.
If you’re a person who studies marketing, Positioning is a concept which was first introduced by Jack Trout ( "Industrial Marketing" Magazine- June/1969) and then popularized by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their bestseller book "Positioning - The Battle for Your Mind." The success of Positioning spawned more books including Marketing Warfare, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Bottom Up Marketing by the authors and many more by other authors.
A key point in Marketing Warfare is that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. They compare business to military warfare in much the same manner as several authors have since done to depict strategy based on Sun Tzu The Art of War. Marketing Warfare is based on Karl von Clausewitz’s unfinished book, On War.
Several quotes from Clausewitz echo the need to develop your uncommon offering (WHAT) and directly to the demise in my opinion of Quiznos’ corporate financial problems:
“Keep the forces concentrated in an overpowering mass. The fundamental idea. Always aimed at before all and as far as possible.”
This is directly aimed at the powerful idea of an uncommon offering. Inside your business, as was the case at one point with Quiznos, lies an advantage that is unexplored yet can powerfully drive your business growth. Discovering it and capitalizing on it can impact your business enormously.
Yet at the same time you must realize the lesson from another of Clausewitz’s quotes:
“The defensive form of war is in itself stronger than the offense.”
Victory goes to the larger army. A leader like Subway can copy your advantage, if it’s not truly uncommon, and with more money and power will beat you at your game. Marketing Warfare issues a rule of thumb for successful offensive warfare. You need a superiority of force 3 to 1 at the point of attack in order to succeed.
History is littered with generals who failed to realize this rule, just as many advertising and marketing dollars are insufficient by a factor of 2 to 1, 3 to 1 and even 10 to 1 as the book points out. This is why point four from Identifying WHAT – Your Uncommon Offering – Inside Advantage is so critical. If “Is it already owned, in part or whole, by a competitor?” Then you must eliminate it as an option. It is not uncommon. You will be obliterated if your competition is of grander scale than you are.
To Subway’s credit they copied the success that Quiznos gained with toasted sandwiches. They had the resources to easily combat any assault Quiznos would assail against them.
Marketing Warfare points out battles in which victory was won by the smaller army. These were often generals who occupied a superior defensive position. Cercy in 1346 and Agincourt in 1415 are two exceptions. In the later 5500 English troops defeated a superior force of 20,000 French. Marketing Warfare asks. “Is it possible to go head to head against a superior competitor?” The answer is yes, but you need a longbow – the weapon the English used in both battles to defeat the French.
Your Longbow is your WHAT. Your uncommon offering, something inside your business that is difficult to copy and duplicate. Identify your WHAT, defend it, maximize it and realize the power it offers.
The next step in developing Your Inside Advantage is identifying your HOW. That’s next blog.