In 2010 John had a high paying job in the corporate world. But after being laid off in 2012 he had no idea what he was going to do when after being out of work for nearly 15 months.
Unemployment was not enough to sustain himself and his family. In all, it was just a fraction of his financial needs. He had put in what felt like hundreds of applications, and every time he went on an interview the room was packed with candidates.
The odds were stacked way against him and he knew it. He didn’t want to take a low paying retail job and when he tried they wouldn’t hire him because he was “over qualified.”
So, he decided the best way to make it was to start a business.
He found a niche he felt was underserved in the company he previously worked for and decided there was a need for someone to fill and hence his new business.
Unfortunately, after 24 months he was struggling like it was the day he started.
What he learned after reaching out for help was that he prospects didn’t understand what business he was “really” in because he couldn’t effectively communicate it.
When the business is confused or inconsistent about how to communicate what it does you can bet the audience will be as well.
Whenever John spoke with someone is was as if the person he was speaking with glazed over and he knew he was losing him or her but he was helpless to do anything about it.
Traffic on his website was virtually non-existent and his blog wasn’t any better.
No one followed his pages and those who did only did it in hopes he would follow them back.
What was the issue?
Why weren’t people in love with he had to offer?
He knew he had something special but for some reason people were not connecting with him and his pocket book and his check account suffered as a result.
Month-after-month, after month the frustration grew as the bills got behind. His family was feeling the pressure and the hopes and dreams he had felt in the beginning was now more of a nightmare.
Where the Problem Began
When John started his business he was full of hope.
Who didn’t need what he was offering? He told himself.
Once he made the decision the first thing he did was spend a few days to build his website.
That didn’t go as planned.
After he decided on what he wanted it to look like he hit his first challenge…
“What do I put in the website or in an advertisement for that matter?”
That’s a normal and familiar refrain. Who hasn’t struggled with that question?
This is where John’s problems began.
Instead of focusing on what, who, when and where he jumped straight to the “How”.
His first and REAL problem is that he didn’t know what a business is really built on…
A business first and foremost is built on a message that is created by the owner or entrepreneur
Mass Marketing Mindset Takes Over
Since the day the printing press first arrived and news became possible through newspapers mass marketing has been with us.
Mass marketing is nothing more than presenting a product or service to a broad audience in hopes of reaching just a few who are able, willing and ready to buy.
For nearly three centuries we have been beaten into submission by mass marketing. I cover this extensively in my eBook “The Shift – Making the Fast Paced Transition from Mass Marketing to Context Marketing.”
But marketing is evolving and changing and the old rules are quickly fleeing.
What John did was just a form of mass marketing.
He took his idea and transferred it to the “how” before he was ready.
His website, blog, social media, advertisements, etc., were nothing more than flyers that in our times say nothing, mean nothing and help no one.
Ultimately, there is no message or brand and no reason for someone to buy from you when they don’t consistently understand who your business is and what your business can do for them.
What is Branding in the Traditional Sense?
In a traditional sense, branding has been a consistent, visual representation of a company that over time seeps into the minds of an individual so that when you think of what they offer you think of them.
It’s heavily used by corporations with bug budgets and it is often used on a much smaller scale in small business.
The problem for small businesses is many feel that they have to do what big businesses do if they are going to be successful without realizing as I’m going to share in just a bit that they can leverage and benefit themselves better in many instances than a big business can.
At the corporate level, think of logos that are designed to be memorable and identify who a business is through it.
Take for example an airline. When you think of Southwest Airlines you may think of a plane, their color scheme, the “heart” and their logo.
But also think of the experiences many have that play into their brand… fast turnarounds of flights, on-time 90% of the time, flight attendants who love to have fun, sing or make special announcements.
With sports teams you may think of the team logo, colors; or other things “winner” or “loser”; or you may think of your favorite or least favorite athlete.
Here is the heart of branding…
How do you feel about these brands when you think of them?
You may have a strong emotion that is either positive or negative or if the business is not known to you the reality is you don’t have one at all.
Branding as a form of marketing ought to be designed to evoke an emotion. But, the emotion is always tied to an experience.
Let’s talk about a small business for a moment. Many small businesses may brand through:
- Local participation in events
- Low cost TV ads
- WORD OF MOUTH
Here is one thing I can assure you, branding is expensive if you see it as mass marketing! But, as I have already said, marketing is changing and the majority of us are not ready for it to our own detriments.
How is John Supposed to Brand When It’s Changing? What are the Changes?
John is figuring out the hard way that everything is changing.
People are consuming advertising and our marketing differently than they ever have before. We are in the midst of another transition much like when radio was introduced and later tv.
When you consider that the average person is bombarded nearly 55,000 times per year with advertisements in all kinds of venues and formats they simply cannot see or retain it all and nor DO THEY WANT TO.
In a study a few years ago I saw from Harvard Business Review they said on average a person has to be
“touched” more than 150 times before they begin to identify with a brand with a product.
That is a massive amount of expensive exposure that has to consistently be exposed to the masses over-and-over again.
In Googles Zero Moment of Truth Research in 2011 it said on average a online person has to see 10.4 pieces of content before they are familiar with your brand.
Content can be a website, landing page, blog article, social media post, video, podcast, blog comment, etc.
In a world where your site visitors come from a search engine, social media posts or through another means to either find a specific solution to a problem or fulfill a need; the average person visits a site once and many times returns from where they came.
In the 2015 B2B Web Usability Report, surveyors said the #1 reason they leave a website immediately is because of a lack of message.
Think about your own habits when you go on a search. Aren’t you the same?
John certainly is but he never really pieced together how his message, brand and delivery all work together.
This makes branding very difficult in a changing world where people are searching in ways they never have before and we have to attract instead of hunt.
How is branding changing and what is John supposed to do before it’s too late?
Branding is more than ever not just a visual representation of your business. Its primary core function in my opinion is now messaging.
Your message is your brand and your brand is your message!
The visual representations of your business (like a logo) will reinforce your brand, not the other way around.
What do I mean by message?
When someone sees your website, landing page, blog article, social media post, video, etc., what do you have to say to them that leaves them feeling you’re competent to help them solve their problems or meet their needs?
What are you saying to them that strikes an emotional and cognitive cord and leaves them feeling that you are amazing and that you really understand and identify with them?
How are you identifying with them in a way that is relevant, compelling and inspiring?
Your message is now what defines you because that’s what people are looking for?
Want some proof?
Here is what they are saying:
- 70% of consumers learn about a company through articles rather than ads
- 81% of U.S. consumers trust advice and information from blogs
In the offline world I identify what a person’s brand and message is when I ask “What do you do?”
In most instances, people don’t really care? It’s a pleasantry or a way to find out how they can potentially sell you something.
However, when a message and brand are so tightly tied together that I can answer the question by discovering their need and talking to it I have the opportunity to attract them.
I earn the right to share with them, about them, and for them.
Messaging and branding is now about building in the mind of each prospect how we can make a difference for them because we relate to them.
This is what it means to understand what business you’re “really” in.
Last fall Ryan Biddulphof of Blogging from Paradise tagged me as the “clarity guy who understands what business you’re “really” in.”
Because at my core that’s my message and in over ten years of entrepreneurship and in owning seven businesses and working with hundreds of clients (and talking with thousands) I’ve seen people make the same mistakes over-and-over again that John made.
They skip thinking about the foundation of their business and run straight to strategies. The strategies never work because they are not tied to brand or message and the audience doesn’t know what to do with them.
Worse yet is that because there is no message or brand tied to the strategies they end up chasing technology and blaming it when it does not work.
How Do You Learn Your Message and Develop Your Brand?
Because messaging and branding are now tied at the hip and are more than just logos, sponsorship’s and other forms of mass marketing we have to think deeper about this issue.
How do we develop our message and brand?
I will explain but please recognize that doing this by yourself is nearly impossible. I have a new clients I spoke to initially about this a year ago that are signing with me now because they have learned this the hard way.
Here is the process:
- What specific problems are you passionate about solving?
- What tangible values do your customers experience and how did they feel about the experience?
- What problems does each tangible value “specifically” solve?
- Who do you “specifically” solve them for?
- How is your product or service “a” solution?
- Define what business you’re “really” in from your customers point of view
Once you have learned the answers to these questions, in order, you will start to see your business very, very differently.
As you do, you will begin networking offline and online differently and your message will radically change from talking about you to talking with your audience about their problems, needs or desires.
When your emphasis changes so does your message and so does the perception about your brand.
When your message changes so does your marketing strategies.
As you begin to engage, connect, and resonate you give the technology a chance to work for you because you realize that in today’s world the way the technology ought to be used for growing your business is the same way it’s always been offline… one person at a time.
It’s only the tools that are different and the opportunities for massive exposure when done well.
Mass marketing does not require you to know the answers to the questions above in detail because you’re simply hunting for the one meal that is on a million acres of land. Good luck with that.
It’s now harder and harder to do.
However, you can create a dynamic offline and online presence that will attract your audience instead of repel them.
Consider this for one moment:
When your audience understands your brand you make word-of-mouth opportunities easy!
Isn’t that you want?
Every day people include me in their blog posts via quotes and links and share me on their social pages.
Check out a few here:
I get invited on major sites like SEMrush to contribute blog posts and present through podcasts and webinars (fyi I have an article coming up on in the next two weeks and another webinar with them on October 15th).
In addition I’ve been invited to contribute to instantetraining.com and I’ll be doing a webinar very soon with Roger Gauthier with Trivision Global.
There is a lot more…
The point is that my brand and message are aligned into one and that’s what you want. When you understand the answers to the questions I asked earlier you ultimately create amazing opportunities for you and your business no matter if you’re an offline, online or combination business.
If you’re just indulged by mass marketing in a world that is rejecting it more and more you are not in a position to demonstrate how competent you are to help someone or make a difference for them. You’re just looking for numbers that don’t matter.
How cares how successful you look if it’s not real? Anyone can get social media followers but what does it mean if they don’t engage with you and ultimately what does it matter if it’s the wrong audience who isn’t able, willing or ready to buy from you?
You’re a business and your goal is not false metrics… it’s building a tribe of those who either are able, willing and ready to buy from you or who serve the same audience you do but in a different way who are willing to introduce you to their audience you for them.
If you’re like John who is chasing the wind in vain, losing money and time and you’re ready to invest in yourself so that you can grow your business then I would love to chat with you.
I will give you without obligation or commitment up to one hour of my time to learn more about you and your business as well as offer you at least one idea that you can implement immediately.
You can also learn more on the “Begin Here” page.
I do hope to hear from you and I want to learn more about you and your business so be sure to click here and schedule one hour with me.
I hope to meet you soon!
~ Don Purdum
Do you have a question, comment or idea you would like to share? Please, engage with me in the comments below and talk about it!!!