I’ve been a proud member of the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber for nearly three years. It’s a great organization that helps businesses grow and interact through networking, events and community service.
Every week, the Chamber has five early morning Connections Meetings. Business owners and reps mingle for a half-hour of networking, followed by a one-hour structured meeting. During the meeting, each member gives a one-minute commercial telling the group who they are, what they do and what type of referrals they’re looking for. This is the classic elevator pitch. It’s best to mix things up and not give the same commercial every time. It keeps you on your toes in some small way.
I have several commercials that I rotate between meetings. Some are very specific about what we’ve been up to lately. Others offer tips and advice to help attendees think differently about the way they market their businesses. Occasionally, I’ll address a current event and how it relates to marketing and communications. I try to keep things helpful and informative, which also helps promote our own subject matter expertise.
One of my more effective commercials is when I look around the room and tell everyone that, no matter what they do for a living, they all have one big thing in common. And, this is 100% true. Every attendee at every meeting I’ve gone to possesses the same important characteristic. Some know they have it, but don’t realize they share it with everyone else. Others don’t even know they have it, but it’s definitely there. And, some have been told they have it, but aren’t quite convinced.
So, what is this one thing everyone shares without even realizing it?
It’s their greatness. Each and every one of them is exceptional at something.
The same applies to you and, hopefully, your business. You were born with greatness. And, if you’re smart about it, and a little lucky, you’ve discovered how to use it in a positive way and to your advantage.
What You Should Really Be Selling.
The next time someone asks you what you do for a living, instead of talking about your product or service, think about what makes you great at what you do. It’s likely not anything tangible that you’re selling. It’s something more than that. Perhaps it comes from your service and support. Or the relationship of trust and confidence that you build with your customers. Or something else. But, it is certainly there, if you just look a bit deeper.
You see, even if you’re selling widgets, there’s something more that you offer that distinguishes your business in a positive way. It’s what your customers truly gain from you that they can’t get from anyone else. It’s this frame of mind that defines your business more than anything. This is your brand promise. And it’s something only you can own. Nobody can take it away from you. And, that’s what you should be selling.
Never Lose Sight of What Makes You Exceptional and Why It Matters to Your Audience.
The first step of any successful branding effort is one of introspection and discovery. Uncovering what makes you or your business great is where you begin to define your brand promise. If you can’t quite figure it out on your own, maybe you’re too close to it. It often takes the objectivity of an outside consultant to “pop the bubble” and challenge your thinking. They can help you see your business the way others do and how it stacks up against your competitors. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.
We’d love to help you sort it all out. Let’s talk some time.
As the year closes, ask yourself how your current challenges and objectives align with your overall vision. Have you lost your way, or are you sticking to your Brand Promise? Is it still meaningful to your customers and prospects? Have you allowed yourself the room to evolve with their needs, or have you boxed yourself in?
If your business is like ours, you don’t have a bottomless marketing budget to build awareness of a name that lacks clarity. We have to be more calculated and deliberate.
Business naming is the hardest part of what we do. Aside from the creative challenges, there are three major hurdles we have to leap. For every name we present, there are, literally, dozens of candidates that never make the cut. The client never sees any of those.
If your brand cannot adapt to change, you could end up burning cycles recovering what you lost instead of spending your time building on what you have. As Ben Franklin once put it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Greatness cannot be achieved within a vacuum. It takes vision, perseverance and a team of experts to make it happen. It requires an understanding of what your audience wants, even if it’s something that doesn’t quite exist. You aim high, learn from your failures and never say, “It can’t be done.”
Building a great brand is never once-and-done. It’s more than a name, logo and graphics. It’s a frame of mind — an experience — with a narrative that stays relevant and makes its audience part of the story.
It’s important to look like you belong in your market. But, it’s more important to promote your own uniqueness. Remember, your brand and identity is about differentiation. It’s not about being like the others.
In the end, we got exactly where we needed to be and could only have arrived there through a long and sometimes daunting process of introspection, exploration and affirmation.
If any of these scenarios seem familiar, perhaps it’s time to consider retooling your brand.