Sunday, February 26, 2012

How To Avoid Blurry Positioning

If you find yourself in the role of consultant, how you express that role speaks to your brand. How you position your brand, is what defines it. Ideally you should embrace the services that best show your passion to your audience. I recently had this discussion with a client of mine. Their consulting services were equally divided between two audiences. Essentially the same solutions but to two disciplines. They had a passion for one, and a responsibility to another. This intrigued me.

I wanted to know why they felt it necessary to split their attention between the two. The client felt that because they were two distinct audiences the service should also be split. On the surface, this seems logical, but from a brand perspective it divides the message. In order for your brand to stand out, it should have a singular thrust. The more fractured the message the larger the risk of confusing your audience. You really want to fine tune your discipline. Choosing one strong direction absolutely focuses your consultancy. I advised my client to choose the avenue where they were most passionate. I felt that that would be the most powerful. They would also enjoy themselves more. And shouldn't you have fun in your business?

I showed them that if they embraced their passion and put all their energies is succeeding in that area, their clients who are entrepreneurs would by nature bring their other businesses into the fold.They would get all their business naturally. Initially, my client felt that targeting the two areas was the better strategy, but now focusing on their passion gave delivered their ultimate goal more organically. It was also a more honest and natural approach. My client is now much more focused and excited to take their brand in a distinct direction. Compared to their competition, they are no longer a generalized service but a differentiated one. They will be seen as a strong leader in a category populated by generalists.

All too often businesses feel the urge to be all things to all people. This is fine when you have the customer through the door. But the process leading up to that awareness is a little more refined. In order to capture new business, you've got to distribute a message that resonates and gets them to notice you. This is where branding shines if done properly. Strategically. Keeping focus pays off. Avoid the temptation to sell everything all at once. One caveat of this strategy is that if you forget to mention it - you don't do it. And for every service mentioned you also invite competition for that that service. Focus the message reduces the competition and delivers your brand powerfully.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The 10 Biggest Family Businesses in the U.S.

When it comes to family businesses, blood and money really do mix. Some of today's biggest and most successful businesses have pledged to keep it in the family to ensure that the original ideals and vision of the company remain intact. Generation after generation, family members are groomed to take over the business and carry on the family tradition of hard work and leadership. Check out these 10 family businesses more

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Embrace The Limb

Considering all the words I write on branding, essentially all I'm saying is that if you're not playing, you're losing. That's not to say that  you're not successful, but that you're not being the best you can be. I'm saying that marketing can be a little easier when you compete as a leader not a follower.

Most companies advertise by using campaigns to inspire consumers to buy in the moment. They use any number of proven techniques to get the attention of you the consumer. A number of these techniques have even taken on a life of their own. Ie: When something is new and improved, or there's 50% more etc., you see these statements contained in a burst, or a banner, or a peeled back page - these visual gimmicks are called violators in the industry. There are violator companies out there, who do nothing but generate these cues. Color is used for its psychological effects, sound and smell are often brought into play. Tantalizing visuals are also used to stir those emotions. As this paragraph outlines, there are any number of tried and true ways to advertise and they are consistently used by everyone who advertises.

The one thing that every advertisers does not use is positioning.


Because to position wisely, you must be a leader. As we see in life, not everyone is cut out to be a leader. There are vastly more followers than leaders. Many businesses like the tried and true. They don't enjoy going out of their comfort zone and they pay a high price for this. It is much easier to do nothing and be content with what you have. A lot of people are afraid of "Leader" because they fear being called out on it. This is  a just fear if they're really not a leader, but are pretending to be. It's not enough to say you are the Leader, you must BE the leader. Act like one and win like one. Without knowing it, we all lead in some way. It's within all of us. Maybe it's the 'no brag rule' that our Mother's instilled in many of us, or a childhood shyness we never quite outgrew. If you ache for your brand to lead, then positioning should be a must-do in your business bucket-list.

This is where I typically come into the picture in the role of Brand Consultant. I take heads of companies through the maze of their business environment and deliver an awareness of their brand. This clarity provides the fuel that satisfies their hunger to lead. Often times, the positioning developed accurately reflects an area, they currently dominate but have not articulated effectively. I inspire them to "bold-up" as it were. If you couple the Leadership Positioning with traditional marketing, then you have a very powerful message to resonate with customers. Without positioning you are simply one of many. Your competitors are many as well. Without Positioning, everyone is saying the same thing in different ways. All the slogans while inspirational, don't resonate. Leading gives the customer something to embrace and understand your value.

As a category leader, you must embrace the limb. That is to say, you have to climb out onto the limb first, then with all confidence embrace it. To benefit from this precarious location you have to put in place processes that encourage and sustain your leadership. Brands grow or decline with time. Depending on the foundation laid out, your brand will go in one of these directions. Establish a strong set of Brand values and stick with them. The leadership position you embrace, must where to these values as they are the foundation defined.
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