Next time you look at a campaign being presented by your agency, step back and pretend you are your biggest competitor. If you are selling HD video cameras and your name is Sony, pretend to be Canon, or Panasonic. If you are Dell, pretend to be HP, if you are Honda, think like Toyota- or if you are Miami Valley Hospital, pretend to be Kettering Medical Center.
On first glance- does the ad look like everything else they’ve done? If yes, then do I need to worry about any groundbreaking challenges to my position? If yes, what would I need to do to counter this ad? And all of a sudden you are looking at your own advertising and evaluating it in a whole new way. Proud of yourself, huh?
Problem is- your competitor isn’t your problem.
I’m not suggesting you work in a vacuum, but this is how you produce safe, boring ads that keep you in the status quo section of the market- and that is where you are most vulnerable to losing market share- even if you are the leader in your field.
Here is a secret- there is no such thing as “Market share.” While Procter & Gamble is comfortable with the idea of market share, and Coke and Pepsi slug it out over fractions of a percent shifts, consumers are not part of group, they are individuals making decisions as single entities. The moment you start lumping them into percentages or demographics, you loose sight of the part of marketing that is magical- what should be the goal of every creative toiling away on your account- and what makes a product into a brand- and that is making a connection one-on-one with that customer- where they identify themselves with you, not as your target.
Think of archery- we can shoot arrows at the target from far away, but if you really want to hit the bullseye- the heart- the easiest way is to be a part of that target and impale the arrow in yourself. Sounds gruesome- but that’s when your ads hit pay dirt.
So, instead of talking about yourself- try to give the consumer the tools to talk about their life with your product- in a way they don’t feel that they are owned by you- but that they own your brand. Nike accomplished this with “Just do it” – probably better than anyone, the question is- when you are looking at that next ad you are going to run- “Is is about us” or “Is it about our customer plus us.”
Makes all the difference in the world.

Just try it.
What do you think?