The Biggest Mistake Entrepreneurs Make in Positioning Their Brands
The hitch hiker waves you down and you pull over. You roll down the window.
She asks where you’re headed.
You turn off the engine and settle back comfortably in your car seat, then launch:
“Well, my father taught me how to drive when I was twelve. We had a farm, and he made me learn the stick shift in a old green pickup…”
She looks at you like you’re nuts. Steps back and starts to wave down another car.
This is what you and I do every single time someone asks us what we do, and we launch into a massive amount of irrelevant, unnecessary and annoying noise. Noise important to us, but which has nothing whatsoever to do with solving the client’s problem or meeting their needs.
We want so badly to be the hero in our client’s story. That’s why we write resumes, build websites and yammer on about ourselves. Our history. Our big-name clients. And that’s why your potential client, that hitch hiker who only needed a ride to the next town, walked away.
She still needs the ride, not the entire history of how you learned to drive.
Yet this is what we repeatedly do. Our marketing materials, our messages, all tend to reflect our pride in our stories, as opposed to how we’re going to help the client tell theirs. How we’re going to help them succeed.
I have been as guilty of this as the next guy. For my part, I did it because I was deeply insecure about my creds. I have found that the more I doubt my creds, the more clutter I put into my website, my marketing copy. All that does is distract, confuse, and ultimately put off the very folks I could get to the next town. I keep forgetting that I am the car that gets them there. That’s it.
My clients can’t make the determination to use my company if I obfuscate the obvious. Are you going to the next town? Can you drive safely? Are YOU safe? Yes, yes and yes? I’m getting in. Let’s go.
When we recognize that the client is the hero on their own journey, that’s when we clear away the clutter. It’s our job to help the client, not the client’s job to pad our resume and give us bragging rights.
Clutter is anything in our message that does not directly speak to the client’s need to be a hero. How he can solve his problem. How she can get a safe ride to the next town.
When we lecture our clients online, in our marketing materials and in person about how heroic we are, the potential client is already dismissing us. He doesn’t need another hero. He’s trying hard to be one in his own right, and he needs someone to get him there. Our story can’t overshadow theirs.
Your job, and mine, as business people with offerings, is to succinctly communicate to that potential client how we are that guide. Not only that, how we understand their pain, have the experience and know how, and others have used us for much the same journey.
Simply, clearly, easily.
I am verbose. I understand how hard that is. That’s why you and I often need those folks who can get US to the next town by helping us craft a brand message.
Businesses who are able to absolutely clarify their messages get business. Because there are a lot of folks who need to get to the next town. That “next town” could be anything from a custom plastic form to an airline part.
So when you consider your pitch, how about making it simple?
“I can take you to the next town, right up the road. Car’s safe and I do this a lot. That work for you?”
Branding is an art. I’m not the expert. I’m trying hard like everyone else to figure it out. But I do like to share good ideas and resources. Because as someone who has spent a lot of time advising businesses, I’ve made the same mistakes. There are really good folks out there with truly good advice.
For a great primer on how to tell a succinct story, see this terrific little book by Donald Miller. Lots of resources. Gather too much, you likely end up with more clutter. Pick something. Stick with it. Test it. Get metrics. See what works.
You’re not the hero, your client is. And when you need help building your brand story, then you become the hero who needs a ride to the next town.
Doesn’t matter where you get your advice. Bottom line, clear away the clutter, the noise, the self-congratulatory back-thumping that confuses our potential buyers.
Clarity is power. How clear is your brand message?