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Borrowing From The Big Boys

by Kirsten Osolind  |  
June 17, 2003

Let me start off by saying I am not a Big Boy. In fact, I am a 5'5”, 105-pound, blonde-hair, blue-eyed, rail-of-a woman. But I have my MBA from Duke, and I'm one of the rare few who has worked for the best of the Big Boys from Coke, to General Mills, to P&G, to Whole Foods Market (an up-and-coming Big Boy).

Big Boy Businesses know how to market for millions. And while there are plenty of areas where the Big Boys fall short – think ethics, speed to market, fostering 1:1 customer relationships and trust – there are also plenty of things the Big Boys do well that account for their fair share of growth and their mastery of marketing.

Small business owners can take a cue from the Big Boys by dedicating themselves to smart marketing. Here are 8 Big Boy principles that small businesses should consider as they strive for long-term business survival:

1: Big Boys Nail Brand Positioning First

Defining a positioning strategy is the most critical step in developing a brand. You have to know who you are before you can get to where you want to be. Coke, Betty Crocker, and Tide have fostered authentic, well-defined brand positioning.

Brand positioning characterizes the way a company wants its target audience to think about its brand. It lays claim to rational and emotional territory on a consumer's mental map of a specific category. It ensures that your brand is unique, defendable, credible, and motivating. The secret to a good brand positioning strategy is a clear message that talks about your strengths, and explains to customers why your product is the best in your category or industry.

A good brand positioning statement contains the following elements:

  • A definition of your target audience
  • Your value proposition and unique benefits (what you offer your target audience)
  • Your point of difference versus the competition
  • A strong reason to believe (why you can claim to be unique and different)

2: Big Boys Know Strategic Planning Is the Heart of Marketing

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Kirsten Osolind Kirsten Osolind is the founder of re:invention (, which helps small business entrepreneurs with brand identities, marketing strategy, buzz marketing, and publicity. Reach her at

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