By Brian Cubarney, Founder and CEO, ClearBrands, Inc.
A poll was taken recently that asked a large group of people the following question: If you had to flee your burning home, and could only take one type of possession, what would you take? Ninety-three percent of people said they would take their family photos.
We often wonder what would happen if we asked business owners the same thing. Well, sort of. Let’s forget the burning building. It’s the importance of one possession (your marketing message) that is really powerful – the idea that you have to choose one thing that is the most meaningful marketing message to your businesses and your clients.
Most businesses believe they have an endless list of important offerings. Excellent customer service is a classic example. Or family owned for over 100 years. The list goes on and on. And the list builds over the years because most businesses assume that the more you say you offer, the more value you create. False.
In truth, all of these offerings are great. Important. But not the most meaningful to clients. They are nice things – parity points – creature comforts that don’t really and truly communicate the value of your business (or the value driver of your customer). They shouldn’t be forgotten, but they shouldn’t be the first things a business owner grabs in a fire.
So what should you grab? I asked this question to a client of mine a few years ago. She was the founder of a small, family-owned financial management firm. She worked with clients in a cozy, well-appointed office. She drove hundreds of miles to personally meet with each and every person who hired her out-of-state. She painstakingly prepared and worked on every portfolio into the late hours of the night.
She was going nuts.
I asked her what she would take out of the fire. She rattled off all the classic points, smiling and feeling good about what her firm offered. But then she talked about her barriers. She was tired. Her team wasn’t empowered. She needed to clone herself just to get the work done. She needed these things because she wanted her clients to feel financially confident in their retirement – and it was important that this feeling permeate her entire business. A-ha!
Financial confidence. How simple. How elegant. How spot-on. It took a lot of digging, but at the heart of her struggles, she needed a brand that would help her business project, instill and create financial confidence. The cozy office was great. The time and dedication she put in – well, that’s expected. But her most meaningful marketing message to prospective and current clients was Financial Confidence.
And so we created a brand that communicated this point in a simple, reflective way. And we built a set of consistent steps she and her staff could follow to deliver an experience that exuded the Financial Confidence promise. Now, with a replicable process in place, my client has the freedom to “clone” herself – her staff can easily replicate the way she works.
So you might be wondering, “How do I find my key marketing message? How do I know when I’ve found it?” Here’s a hint: your most meaningful message resides at the intersection (we call it the “sweet spot”) of your company’s unique ability, and the job or task your best clients or customers are struggling with. It’s where your passion meets their pain.