November 1, 2015

Brand Strategy Lessons with a .50 Caliber Bottle Opener

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Written by: Ross Quintana
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50 Caliber Bottle Opener

Hey everyone, today I’m going to share some powerful lessons brands can learn from work I am doing with who sells .50 caliber bottle openers and custom gifts with a percentage of proceeds going to help a long list of military and veteran causes such as the Travis Manion Foundation and Marsoc Foundation to name a couple. There are six key strategic branding and positioning lessons that can help you take your business to the next level. Let’s take a look at how they apply to Bullets 2 Bandages.

Positioning – You may not be able to control your niche or your competition but you can control how you position your business in that space. Bullets 2 Bandages has one key competitor that was featured on Shark Tank also selling .50 caliber bottle openers and by many accounts had a competitive advantage with massive exposure and backing from a high profile investor. Money and exposure are hard to overcome, but strategy can do it. Their other competition for .50 caliber bottle openers were a handful of smaller companies that make unbranded 50 cal openers.

Knowing your competition is the first step to carving out your unique position among them. We looked at the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor as well as their market positioning. It is easier to find your own spot than it is to try and compete with others for their spot. Don’t try and be a me too or a one up company, know your competition and find your own spot. Often businesses must compete with companies with bigger budgets or more market share. Bullets 2 Bandages is a great example, having to overcome the shadow of Shark Tank exposure with only their .50 caliber bottle opener and some marketing smarts, they are establishing their position in the market. If you want one of my favorite all-time marketing books check out Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout. They show how companies can use strategy not size and budget to win.

Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Differentiation – Bullets 2 Bandages first differentiated themselves by selling different colored bottle openers as well as aligning themselves with various causes they believe in. They didn’t have the mass exposure of Shark Tank and had to market smarter by targeting their audience through social instead of just spending money for broadcast marketing. This is where they hired me to find their target audience and grow it at a fast pace. It wasn’t long before we amassed a great following of 50 caliber bullet bottle openerscraft beer enthusiasts, veterans, military supporters, and influencers. For us the strategy was relationship not mass advertising. The results in engagement and social shares has allowed us to grow and stay nimble.

Sometimes differentiation doesn’t have to come from your products or features, you can differentiate yourself by your targeting, communication style, transparency, marketing channels, and brand attitude. Don’t get lost in the masses or get overshadowed by big players in the industry you are in. Be identifiable in the unique space you choose to be in within your market. Even focusing on a specific marketing channel or social platform can give you a dominant position that you can build on because you competition simply doesn’t have much if any presence there. Look at where your competition is focusing and focus on other areas to reduce your competition and differentiate yourself from your competition.

Alignment – The first thing I said when I started was that we aren’t selling just a .50 caliber bottle opener, we are selling something that means something to people. By focusing on causes we can differentiate ourselves from products and create emotional bonds in the relationships we are developing with partners and their supporters. There are already audiences out there that are rallied around causes so why try and mass market. It is smarter to leverage existing audiences and tailor your customer experience to them. This will proved fast growth on a low budget.

Targeting – To get more from less you have to focus on targeting. You can either put more prospects in the top of the funnel or you can get more conversions at the bottom of the funnel. Most people do the first which is an inefficient way to grow your business and cost prohibitive for most companies. This goes beyond generic buyer personas and goes into finding your future fans. There are so many tools and strategies with social media that allow you to not only find very specific audiences, but even reach out to your competition’s audience as well. The possibilities are endless and the data is free for those willing to do the research. We have more access now to targeted markets than ever before and the businesses who are using this to their advantage can grow faster and dominate their market.

Segmentation – Craft beer and military are two very large markets and going after either one without segmenting on a limited budget is not realistic. The first thing we had to do is segment the market. This is a spot where so many miss it. Whether we are targeting groomsmen gifts with the 50 cal openers or aligning with causes such as Marsoc or Travis Manion Foundation, the key is getting very specific. Craft beer is too broad, but creating pink and red .50 cal bottle openers for women who love craft beer is a much smarter segmentation. The smaller your segment the easier it can be to target them and the higher your conversions will be. Start large, but think small.

.50 Cal Bottle Openers

Relationships – Customers are not impressions, likes, or sales, they are people and in a distracted world you have to be able to not only connect but you have to also be able to build trust, tell your story, add value, and be shareable. These all center around relationships and giving. The experience your customer has at first contact, during the getting to know you phase, the purchase decision and the delivery and ongoing brand perception must be thought out and managed. Success doesn’t often happen by accident. If you build your marketing system around your customer experience then you can create more than a sale. Stop focusing on your product and start focusing on your customer.

Pulling it all together – While many businesses try and go head to head with a strategy of just find a customer, others can go out in the digital and analog world and position themselves for success. Transactions are easy to facilitate once you find your customers and line up with them in a valuable way. Whether you are something as specific as a .50 caliber bottle opener, or as broad as marketing services, a good strategy and customer centered approach can help you compete with any competitor. Shows like Shark Tank expose products to investors, but your marketing strategy is the real investment that every brand needs to make.

What have you learned from working with your clients? How have you used strategy to overcome competition? Where have you found spending money on a limited budget has paid more returns? I would love to here your thoughts and experiences in the comments :]

Want help with your marketing strategy? Want to carve out your space among your competition. Contact us, we can take you there.

About the Author

Ross Quintana
Founder of SocialMagnets, I am passionate about social media, influence, innovation, strategy, and marketing. I love to help people learn and understand the digital world. I stretch people's thinking and share my analysis of information, tools, and strategies in social media. Let's connect


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