Mindshare Is Meaningless
You’ve heard of mindshare, the portion of customers’ minds that a vendor’s brand occupies. Mindshare is meaningless; building it is a waste of shareholder capital: People don’t make cerebral decisions.
Martin Cooper, inventor of the cellphone, told Morley Safer of 60 Minutes: “The consumer is king. The consumer ought to make the decisions … certainly not the engineer. Engineers tend to get enchanted by the technology itself.” Indeed! I call this obsession technologica erotica — a term I coined in 1989.
Focusing exclusively on logic, technology, and product features — common in the high-tech arena — will result in two undesirable outcomes: 1) failure to tap customers’ real buying motivations and 2) artificially high cost/length of sales.
Fusion Point of Thinking & Feeling
Because mindshare is meaningless, I coined GutShare™ — that portion of customers’ guts that a vendor’s brand occupies — based on these truths:
A great CEO decides with imperfect and/or inadequate information. The only way to fill the “info gap” is to use his gut, risking his neck (pure emotion) despite those missing puzzle pieces — with neither time nor money to find them. If he can’t or won’t trust his gut, it’s impossible for him to be an effective executive.
In “GutShare vs. Mindshare,” I explained that people make all decisions with their guts, not their heads. Every decision, in one’s business and personal life, has both emotional and logical components that combine in his gut. Appealing exclusively to customers’ intellects with your brand, therefore, is a huge mistake: it will fail. GutShare is gold.
“Nothing in life is done with one side of the brain. Everything has an emotional content and a pragmatic aspect.”
Founder of IDEO
• GutShare Snippet #1: Below is the opening paragraph of an article appearing in the 08.31.09 issue of Fortune magazine about BlackRock, the wildly successful investment-management firm:
On October 1, 2008, BlackRock’s CEO, Larry Fink, was sitting in his glass-framed Manhattan office when CNBC reported that Warren Buffet was buying a big stake in General Electric. BlackRock’s nearby trading floor erupted with excitement. The experts and pundits on the tube viewed the Buffet news as a sign that the markets were stabilizing. Fink didn’t see it this way and shared his gut reaction with an associate. “This isn’t about a sweet, clever grandfather from Omaha making a nice deal! It means GE can’t roll over its commercial paper, and corporate America can’t fund itself!”
The key here is that Larry Fink’s gut, a fusion point of thinking and feeling, told him what decision to make. He trusts his gut because he knows it has the answer.
• GutShare Snippet #2: Don Hewitt created 60 Minutes in 1968. At the time of his death in August 2009, his famous creation was the longest-running primetime program on American TV. Here’s how CBS summarized its secret sauce:
In the cutthroat world of network television, of programming, ratings, and focus groups, 60 Minutes ran on the gut instincts of Don Hewitt.
• GutShare Snippet #3: Warren Buffet’s Mr. Fix-It, David Sokol, in an 08.16.10 Fortune profile, discusses one of his biggest business failures:
In what he now says was probably the biggest failure of his career, Sokol in the early 2000s decided to invest in a new method to remove zinc from one of MidAmerican’s geothermal wells in California. The technology worked in the lab, but when applied in the field it flopped, leaving MidAmerican with a $200M loss. In retrospect, Sokol should have done more pilot-testing.
“The worst mistake I made,” he says, “was that when I approved the project, in the pit of my stomach I knew it was a mistake. I’ve tried to teach this to young executives ever since. Your gut instincts are extremely important to listen to, particularly when they are telling you not to do something.”
Again, the gut is the key dashboard instrument, and David Sokol reinforces it. Those who don’t grasp this fundamental principle cannot manage and cannot sell to managers.
• GutShare Snippet #4: Bob Kraft made two brilliant personnel decisions in 2000: hiring Bill Belichick as the Patriots’ head coach and de facto general manager, and drafting Tom Brady in the sixth round. Nobody else in the NFL wanted either. In an 11.15.10 Fortune profile, Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, shares how he made these choices:
“Anyone could have hired him,” Kraft says of Belichick. The same could be said for Brady. Why, after Belichick’s struggles in Cleveland and being so closely associated with the difficult Bill Parcells, did Kraft pick him up? “My gut,” Kraft says without pause. “That’s how the best things in my life have happened.”
Again, the gut is the key dashboard instrument, and Bob Kraft reinforces it. Those who don’t grasp this fundamental principle cannot manage and cannot sell to managers.
• GutShare Snippet #5: In writing about entrepreneurs and venture capital on 10.04.11 for the Wall Street Journal, Scott Austin set the stage with this introductory paragraph:
“When considering whether a first-time entrepreneur is the next Mark Zuckerberg, VCs usually have scant information on which to base their investment decisions. Like baseball scouts evaluating raw talent, they must use pattern recognition, and ultimately trust their gut, before betting millions on a young founder.”
Once again, the gut emerges as the decisionmaker’s best tool.
Getting the picture? The gut is where decisions happen. Alas, too often, people ignore their guts by overthinking, regretting it afterwards. The gut always has the right answer.
The objective of branding is to maximize GutShare — the portion of customers’ guts that a vendor occupies. Forget about mindshare — it’s a useless, meaningless concept.
Customers — military, industrial, commercial, consumer — are emotional creatures drawn to brands that resonate in their guts. To maximize GutShare, your brand must incorporate and reflect your customers’ emotions.