The Ultimate Marketing Cheat Code For Entrepreneurs
Updated: Feb 20
In the gaming world, there’s a legendary cheat code for a video game that did something that -- to this day, I’m still not quite sure exactly just how it happened. The thing that made the cheat code so legendary is that it went viral almost two decades before social media even existed!
The year was 1987, and the Nintendo Entertainment System was the hottest product on the planet. And while the NES console was already a cash cow. When the video game, ‘Contra’ was released for the system, it totally changed the game (no pun intended).
Contra instantly became one of the most demanded NES games in the world by gamers. The game flew off the shelves and became an instant hit for Nintendo. But something began to happen within the gaming community. Through sheer word-of-mouth, rumors of a secret cheat code for the game began to spread around the world like a wildfire.
The rumor was that if performed correctly, while playing Contra, if a gamer pressed the buttons up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, and then start on their NES controller -- they’d activate a cheat code that enabled them thirty extra lives. Which essentially, would give the gamer thirty extra chances to pass the game.
The rumor was actually true. And the code is still celebrated by gamers to this day.
In marketing, there’s also a cheat code that when performed correctly, gives entrepreneurs a far greater chance to win... the game of business.
Whether it’s in gaming, marketing, or entrepreneurship; people look for, and apply cheat codes in order to accomplish a mission the easiest way possible. Which is probably why you clicked on this article, am I right?
So, what is this marketing cheat code that will make it as easy as possible for you to win? Here it is: Be the first brand to represent one relevant benefit in the minds of consumers.
Pretty simple, right? It’s even easier to remember than the Contra cheat code.
However, the key word within the code is ‘relevant.’ The benefit must be relevant to what a consumer truly wants or need. If it’s not -- there’s no need for the consumer to take a desired action.
For example, if Lisa wanted to purchase a pair of glasses that looked trendy and high-end. But the only glasses available at her local store were plain and unfashionable, those glasses would not be relevant to the benefit that she’s looking for at the moment.
In their book, The 22 Immutable Laws Of Branding, authors Al and Laura Ries, posed, “What’s a brand? A singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect.” By simply being the first brand that consumers think of that represents at least one relevant benefit in their mind -- your brand could accomplish just about any mission in business.
What makes this code so special?
The reason why this code is so special is because as a marketer -- sticking to this code narrows your focus. While also unlocking barriers in-between your brand and revenue that may not have been attained if your marketing efforts were more extensive.
If your brand is the first brand that consumers think of for just one relevant benefit -- it will also be the first brand that consumers will think of whenever it’s time for them to make a purchase to receive that benefit.
This is what authors Greg Creed and Ken Muench, refer to as a Category-Use-Occasion.
As stated in their book, R.E.D. Marketing, “That’s the magical formula. Pick a CUO that makes sense for your brand and make the offering as distinctive as you can. Remember, when we say distinctive, we mean distinctive to your brand and only your brand.”
Also, while it’s great for a brand to be top-of-mind for consumers in multiple category-use-occasions; by owning just one relevant benefit in the minds of consumers for a particular occasion when they need to make a purchase -- your brand could be extremely successful.
How to activate the code
Many believe that simply having the best quality product or service will win over the hearts and minds of consumers. And in a dream world, that would certainly be true. But unfortunately, in reality -- that’s not the case.
The fact of the matter is that when it comes to the minds of consumers --perception is reality. The 22 Immutable Laws Of Branding note, “Quality, or rather the perception of quality, resides in the mind of the buyer. If you want to build a powerful brand, you have to build a powerful perception of quality in the mind.”
In marketing, brands that create the perception of high quality -- often prevail over those that are best at actually delivering the highest quality.
To activate the code, you must first discover the one relevant benefit that you want your brand to represent in the minds of consumers. One that isn’t currently heralded by another brand. Then, focus on creating perception by doing the following:
Find an audience for which your benefit would be relevant.
Make sure that your brand could actually deliver the relevant benefit.
Convey to your audience why your brand is the only one designed specifically to help them receive that benefit.
As an entrepreneur, if you execute all of the actions above, not only will you unlock the ultimate marketing cheat code for your brand -- you'll also advance to the next level.