The Law of Equity

You may not know this, but there’s a single currency being exchanged in virtually every marketing transaction that occurs, whether it’s online or offline.  That currency is equity.  (And we’re not talking about equity as in “equality” but equity as in “value, or a share or percentage” of something.)

What the heck does that mean?

In marketing, (but most commonly illustrated through advertising,) your goal as a marketer is to deliver a “compelling reason why” someone should try/buy your product. And in the process of delivering that compelling reason why, marketers have demonstrated that there is a LAW OF EQUITY and have resorted to trading that equity on at least four primary levels:

  1. In many cases, (as referenced in my previous post,) marketers can BORROW EQUITY from conventions that most people can relate to.  These are typically big, broad themes like generational repetition, angst, rebellion, and who can resist the boy-meets-girl scenario?  In doing so, the marketer also piggybacks many of the feelings embedded in those themes. This carries through to the prospect’s opinion-in-formation of product/service being advertised.
  2. In other cases, and this may be the most difficult, marketers are trying to CREATE EQUITY in the minds of prospects.  It’s no wonder that the most tried and true techniques of the craft are product demonstrations and celebrity endorsements.  These are classic – and quick – equity builders.  The consumer thinks “wow, I can see that it really does work!” or “well, if William Shatner says it, it must be true.”  Either way, we’re trying to create something of value, and (notice the theme here) ride on the back of some other compelling reason to get there.
  3. In more sinister situations, (and it’s virtually the mirror image of #2,) we’re trying to UNDERMINE EQUITY relative to our competition. If our toothpaste is the “freshest tasting,” then the implication is that the other guy’s is NOT.  If our car is “the most technologically advanced,” then the other guy’s is NOT.  Every time we make a claim, we’re undermining someone else’s.  Period.  Oh, and PS, they’re doing it to us, too…every time THEY make a claim.
  4. Which brings me to #4 – DEFENDING EQUITY.  There will come a time, if all goes well, that we’re the marketers the other guys are making claims against, and we have to defend our turf. In some cases, we have an opportunity to fire back intelligently, and the consumer gets something cool like the cola wars (or more recently, the browser wars,) which can be both entertaining and informative.  But in less optimal conditions, we’re just begging consumers not to believe those other guys, and to, ahem, trust us on this one.  Try to avoid EVER making a statement that sounds like that.

How to put the Law of Equity to work for you:

Next time you’re crafting a marketing campaign (either strategically or tactically,) ask yourself where the equity flow is:  are you borrowing, creating, undermining or defending?  Whichever case you find yourself in, use the most advantageous tools and the most direct routes to deliver as much value to your prospects as possible, given the medium and the situation.  After all, everybody likes a little extra cold hard equity in their pockets.

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