Our methodology

Years of our practice enable Ries&Ries to make one interesting observation: 99% of company owners and top managers, regardless of their location or industry, have similar answers to thequestion: “Why should my prospects buy from me?” They usually say: “We’ve got great quality, reasonable prices, attractive designs and top-notch customer service.”However, sales and profits of these same companies never seem to match their expectations. Either those fantastic products fail to generate enough demand or the companies artificially create demand with massive advertising investments that severely depress profits. Another excuse given for the lack of profits is the low level of “effort” of employees. However, given the same level of “effort” the profit margin might be totally different if the organization’s leader asked himself the same question, but only added a small but fateful ending: “Why should my prospects buy from me, BUT NOT FROM MY COMPETITION?”

Unlike markets in “mature” countries, Russia is just going through its third decade of market development. The country does not have the luxury of learning how to do business for decades or even centuries as there is an urgent need to get off the oil and gas “needle.” If Russian entrepreneurs fail to adopt the skill of answering the fateful question correctly, one should not expect to see many profitable non-oil-and-gas brands develop in Russia. The only way to develop a natural-resources-independent economy in Russia is by building powerful brands.

Yesterday, there was a shortage of many essential products and services. Today is different. Today, Russian consumers are overwhelmed by an avalanche of similar offerings. Selling a product to today’s picky customers is becoming a much more challenging task. Unfortunately in today’s marketplace, quality has little influence on the level of demand. Quality becomes an issue only at the stage of repetitive orders and customer loyalty. However, many business leaders still believe that great quality is the key to getting into the prospect’s mind. Other companiesplace high hopes on wild creativity: color arrays and “optimistic” slogans that take no account of the hundreds of similar offerings saying much the same thing. Al Ries and Jack Trout, the originators of strategic marketing, call today’s epoch the “tyranny of choice.” Under thesecircumstances,the way to develop an effective marketing strategy is by telling consumers why they should buy from you: “ . . . BUT NOT FROM YOUR COMPETITION!”

For over forty years, legendary marketing guru Al Ries has studied thesuccesses and failures of hundreds of companies in different countries and industries. This has enabled him to arrive at a simple conclusion: To be successful in the marketplace one needs to know correct answers to only two questions. The former he discovered together with Jack Trout in 1972, and the latter he formulated recently together with his daughter, disciple and partner Laura Ries.

  1. “Why should prospects buy from me, BUT NOT FROM MY COMPETITION?”
  2. “Considering the excessive advertising noise around, how can I get my answer to the first question into the mind of my prospects?”

Al Ries, the legendary author of “Positioning,” together with Laura Riesand their Russian partner Tanya Lukianova developed a methodology that can solve both questions at once. It is called the “Nail&Hammer” Strategic Marketing and Branding Methodology.

“NAIL.” A clear and simple answer to the first question is called “positioning” or “selling idea.” The right “selling idea” is specific, simple and communicates an obvious benefit. Thus it is memorable, gets “stuck” in the prospect’s mind for a long time, and therefore it resembles a sharp nail.

“HAMMER.” The answer to the second question is a visual symbol that is able to unambiguously communicate the “selling idea.” Laura Ries calls this type of symbol a “Visual Hammer” in her book of the same title. The right visual hammer has enough emotional charge to drive the “selling idea” nail deeply into the consumer’s mind despite all the advertising noise around.

The “Nail&Hammer” methodology makes branding a process of four successive steps:

  1. Development of the Nail, the “selling idea.”
  2. Development of the “Visual Hammer.”
  3. Coordination of all other aspects of the brand around the “Nail and Hammer” concept. By other aspects we mean price, distribution channel, package design, point-of-sale material, merchandising and everything else associated with the brand.
  4. Development of a marketing program to build the brand in the marketplace. The “fathers” of positioning, Al Ries and Jack Trout, found that all successful companies regardless of their location or industry achieved the same goal: They managed to own one simple idea in the minds of prospects. Further research by Ries&Riesshows that almost all cases of market success, despite the diversity and industry-related specifics,follow the same formula. They hammer the selling idea nail into the mind of prospects with a visual hammer.

The right nail and the right hammer can work miracles: Together, they often ensure healthy profit margins even with limited advertising resources and extensive intervals between campaigns. Which is not surprising considering that a nail stuck tightly in the mind makes people seek the “loved” brand even without constant advertising reminders.

1. Mapping of the mind with market research

2. Development of the NAIL - the “selling idea”

3. Development of the visual HAMMER

4. All other aspects of the brand must be balanced around the “nail and hammer” pair

5. Prototypes of advertising and PR communications

6. We develop and review mediaplans

7. Implementation of the developed strategy and branding at the client company

8. Additional service: Test advertising. Testing of the strategy and branding on real life prospects

9. Additional service: Test sales. Sales strategy

10. Additional service: Building the brand in the real market