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The law of the mind

| By Stephen Carter | Reading Time: 4 minutes
In the fourth of his 24-part series inspired by Reis and Trout’s famous marketing tome, Nick Garner explains why it’s better to be first in people’s minds than first winner in a marketplace

In the fourth of his 24-part series inspired by Reis and Trout’s 22 immutable laws of marketing, Nick Garner explains why it’s better to be first in people’s minds than to be first winner in a marketplace

Last time we talked about the law of category, which states that the goal for businesses to own a category in somebody’s mind. For example ‘football betting’: Bet365, 'big online casino': 888, 'mobile casino: Leo Vegas.

For every brand, the path to success is owning one category or another. If you are a new arrival, maybe you should think about a specific subcategory that you can outcompete others in.

Thinking about the law of the mind

In iGaming when there is so little to differentiate one online gaming experience from another, the differentiator is whether that brand is front of mind.

If the brand is dominant in a specific market subcategory, then it easier for the brand to be front of mind. If a brand is rich enough to do aggressive brand awareness, then it can become a front-of-mind brand.

Of course, if a brand isn’t fully licensed in a given market territory it’s very difficult for them to do comprehensive brand marketing i.e. to advertise on television. This is one reason why local licensing is so critical.

In my second article I talked about the law of leadership and how it’s better to be first than to be better, meaning that if you get in the market early, you end up in front of mind.

Even if latecomer competitors have a stronger offering, because they’re not front of mind and because consumers are slow to change habits, latecomers will always have a tough time breaking into an established market category.

However, what can overcome the inertia of being a market latecomer is getting rooted in a specific market subcategory and then pushing through with aggressive brand marketing activity.

For example, have you ever heard of Gaming Club Casino? It was the first ever online casino launched in 1994 and was powered by the then-fledgling casino provider Microgaming.

But you’ve heard of 888? It’s a casino which was founded three years later in 1997. They invested heavily in brand marketing and became one of the juggernauts of the industry today.

The reality of law of mind
When people think about launching new igaming brands, their usual thought pattern is: “It’s a huge industry, gambling is growing, I want some of that.”

And then they go through a process of launching the site and attempting to find their own segment.

Since most igaming product propositions are very similar, the segmentation is more around the branding i.e. the colours, the name and so on, or specific country territories.

Fortunately for igaming start-ups the affiliate ecosystem loves new entrants. Why?

  • A new brand means players haven’t registered there before and so there’s more likelihood of a higher conversion rate, leading to potential affiliate revenue share.
  • Providers offer huge incentives for players to move around brands
  • Players are superstitious when they lose money and want to move onto the next brand

All of this means that if you’re a reasonably organised operation, its relatively easy to get a brand of the ground. The trouble comes later when affiliates lose interest, players have seen the brand too many times and the brand accumulates to many overheads.

At this point in the brand’s life-cycle, typically a year in, brands are going to have a stark choice which is:

  • Let the brand subside into slow hibernation
  • Pump loads of brand marketing into it and hope that the brand can become front of mind for its target audience

This is why you see a constant cycle of ‘Tier 3’ brands emerging and dying off. When the brand dies, the marketing company behind it launches a fresh brand, using the same software and infrastructure… And the cycle just carries on.

How do you win on the law of mind?
In my view, everything goes back to a previous law I talked about, the law of category. You pick your market segment (in my case I launched a Bitcoin casino) and you aim to be the best in that market category.

So what interesting market categories are there?
To me, the most intriguing igaming market segments coming through are with cryptocurrency and skins gambling (if you’ve never heard about skins gambling, look it up on your favourite search engine).

Of course, I’m biased after all I did launch a Bitcoin casino.

There are grey markets that are getting richer, such as India and Africa. Since people have an inherent desire to gamble, these are interesting opportunities.

There’s even been a fashion for Nordic-sounding brands. One of the big new arrivals has been Play Ojo. Sounds Nordic but is co-founded by Israeli, Ohad Narkis.

Players implicitly understand that Nordic brands are very customer service-oriented, so if Play Ojo comes out with a ‘fair play’ philosophy, players are going to trust this Nordic-sounding brand.

Same principle applies in fashion with Superdry, a brand based around comfort, minimalism and quality. All traits people associate with Japan. But, it’s a British brand.

The point is… when you are dominant in your category, you are memorable. You maintain your category leadership, you will carry on being front of mind because you serve that specific market so well.

If you want to go more mainstream, you have to do mainstream marketing and that involves huge money and local licensing. By the law of averages there are very few mainstream brands relative to the rest.

I’ll be talking about the law of perception in another article, but for now it’s worth saying that if you are seen as ’the’ brand in customers' minds, even if you have a substandard product offering, those customers don’t care because they’ve become habituated around you.

So if you are prospecting and thinking about getting into a market and you believe you’ve got a better type of sports book software or whatever, just bear in mind unless there is an overwhelming reason why they should use you, those players will stay put.

To reiterate, you can pump out the brand marketing in an attempt to win mind share, but you’ve got to overcome the inertia of habituation.

If you’ve got your market segment, with your solid customer base, then it makes sense to do the brand marketing so you take a larger part of their mind share and consolidate your position.

On a higher level, the main point is it better to be the first brand that comes to somebody’s mind than it is to either be better or to be first in the market place.

Next time, I’m going to talk about the law of perception, where we talk about marketing as the battle for a consumer’s perception of a brand.

Nick Garner is founder of the successful Bitcoin casino Oshi.io and is also founder of RIZE digital, the igaming marketing services business specialising in SEO, content, affiliate marketing. Nick has always been interested in marketing strategy and hopes his marketing insights are helpful.

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