Are you being caught in a trap of spending heaps of marketing and getting no traction? We’ve got Lisa McLeod here from Selling With Noble Purpose, and she’s going to talk about how to make sure that you have a clear cut message.
3 Things That Hinder Your Business
So Lisa, what are some of the main blunders when people start marketing and trying to sell a new business? What are the things you think they need to focus on?
Lisa: There are three main things that get in peoples’ way.
The first thing is what they think it means to sell. This is over-describing what they do.
Secondly is their expertise. Most people start a business because there are some customers out there who are not getting their needs met. What gets in their way when they are trying to sell is that they are too deep in their expertise.
Lastly, they don’t have clarity and purpose. They think their purpose is to sell, but the purpose is to make a difference to your customers. This should be the centre of your marketing message and not your product. How do you make a difference to customers? What is your impact?
How to Have a Clear Voice and Define Your Marketing Message
I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of doing that previously. I’m an engineer who thinks very much in detail. I was in a spot where I knew I had a great product, but I thought, what if I have the cure for cancer but not the voice and the clear message to tell everyone about it. Do you have an example of seeing businesses that highlight what they do instead of why they do it?
Lisa: That’s right! It’s what they do versus why they do it.
Let’s say with the cure for cancer, the fact whether it’s injectable or it’s a pill, all we care about is the cure for cancer. We need to think this way as sellers. We had an IT company we were working with, and it’s an American company, and you can outsource all your IT to them.
So when I started working on it, we said, what impact do you have on customers? One guy in the room stood up and said, we help small businesses be more successful. That’s what happens when you have that clarity of purpose.
Every time you interact with a customer, that’s what you’re trying to help them: be more successful. And if you’re a business owner, one of your challenges is getting your people to have the right behaviours with customers.
What Is Your Impact?
Absolutely. We changed our marketing messages around after addressing the question of what we are actually doing. We’ve redefined the message of what we do in business and what we do for people’s lives to challenge their operations by creating kindhearted personal relationships driven by cutting-edge advancement. We changed our marketing message and said we guarantee your uptime, and if you go down, we pay you. The message is very clear—we guarantee that your business will run perfectly with technology—and we’re happy enough to put our money where our mouth is.
Lisa: The exercise you have done is really important. Finding your “why” can be easy if you have a small business with a handful of employees, but if you go to a mid-sized business, you need to be explicit.
Why? Because you want a competitive differentiation.
Even if what you are selling is not unique, you’ve got to show that you do your business differently.
Second, you need an emotional engagement with your people. You have to drive emotional engagement with your team to motivate them to try new innovation. As a leader, you have to articulate the impact you have on customers and make that the north star of the business.
How to Have a Competitive Differentiation to Define Your Marketing Message
As your business becomes bigger, the message shouldn’t get watered out. What is the differentiator between copycat-like businesses, such as McDonald’s and Hungry Jacks?
Lisa: You’ve got two key ways to differentiate yourself.
2. The experience of doing business with you
I was running the session for a group of leaders and we were talking about this. McDonald’s and Hungry Jacks can’t be differentiated from each other. What interests me during the session is, I asked who stands out among these organisations? There is an east coast of America company called Chick-Fil-A and a west coast company called In-N-Out Burger. I thought people were going to come to blows arguing about which one is better. The reality is, is the food better at either one of these fast-food chains?
The place of true differentiation is the experience that you were creating for your customers.
But Don’t Change Your Business Only in Response to Your Competitors
If you’ve got a business and you’re trying to try and work out how to make sure that you are targeting your audience appropriately and being separate from your competitors, what’s the best way to do that?
Lisa: If your response to competitors is the basis of what you’re doing for your business, you are not going to create a differentiated experience. If you want to create true differentiation and be clear with your message, you need to find your purpose in the way you do it. You have to answer these three questions:
- How do we make a difference to our customers?
- How do we do it differently in the competition?
- What do we love about what we’re doing?
When you answer these questions, this creates the story of your business, and that’s the story you go out to the market with.
Talk to Your Customers and Get Honest Feedback
I always say the best way to find out how you make a difference to your customers is to ask them, would that be fair?
Lisa: Totally. If people are buying your products or renewing their contracts with you, this means that you are doing something as simple as creating a great experience or maybe helping them to be more successful because as an IT company, you are doing all their back up IT. Company owners can sleep at night knowing that you take care of the technical side of their business. It’s not just about the product but the impact you are making on your customers.
How to Do It Differently From the Competition
We’ve had a customer who had to leave, and so I asked them, what could we have done differently? So if you’re selling something that’s not very much a commodity and not like a burger, like IT Support Services, how do you make sure that you understand your competitors? How do you make sure that you know them well enough to know that you’re doing the right thing and you’re doing it differently from the competition?
Lisa: Instead of asking your customers, “Why did you buy from us?” ask, “How did working with us impact you?” They can say you were cheaper, you were the first one here, or you had more widgets, but what matters is to know the impact you have on them. This is how you will differentiate your business from the competition.
How to Find Out Your “Why” to Define Your Marketing Message
One of the products we sell was by far the cheapest in the industry. It is selling us as the hook to get you in the door. It is not a high-profit product. It is up to think about possibly what if their current provider isn’t doing what they meant to be doing and starting to dive in to see how we are different from their current provider.
Target Businesses You Are Excited About
“Companies with a purpose bigger than money outperform their competition by over 350%.”
Lisa: I once asked the customer, “Why did you pick us”? They said we picked you because we could tell that you were really excited about our business. And so I started saying that we only go for businesses we’re really excited about.
You have to be specific on what you sell and make sure you have a lens on it.
Selling With a Purpose
It’s the frame of mind. When you are excited, that rubs off on other people. Once you have a purpose in business, what’s then the connection to profit?
Lisa: Companies with a purpose bigger than money outperform their competition by over 350%. People that sell with purpose, whose purpose is to improve life for customers, outsell people who are focused on targets and quotas. And this is important if you’re in any kind of a sales function or if you’re a leader in the business, the reason why is flip it.
Who would you rather have calling on you? Someone whose purpose is to help you or someone who’s just trying to close you?
It shows up in every aspect of the business because you’ve got to have really clear systems and processes just to be a successful business.
But you will not be a differentiated business, which is the most profitable business, unless you have clarity about how you and your team make a difference to customers if you’re just sort of running your business in that transactional way.
Profit is the test of your validity. The purpose of a business is to improve life for customers. Profit tells you whether you’re doing it or not.
Create a Tribe of True Believers
So you’re focusing on the right information. A good example is Apple. What they’re selling is the experience of selling the support. They’re selling a beautifully crafted product. Their message is clear.
Lisa: That’s right. Steve Jobs was very famous. He had a conversation with John Sculley, and he was trying to persuade John Sculley, who was the CEO of Pepsi, to come work for him. With great excitement and honour, I got to interview John Sculley a couple of weeks ago for a piece I did for Forbes. And he said, I remember Steve Jobs saying you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or you want to change the world?
Apple is a good example. And you might be listening to this, and you might sell ice cream or concrete, but there is innovation in every space. And the reason Apple has innovated, the reason the customer experience is amazing, the reason the products are always on the cutting edge, the reason they look beautiful, the reason that out-of-the-box experience is great is that they’re not selling technology…they’re selling making a difference to you. They’re selling you on having a beautiful experience. And that’s where everyone’s eyes are pointed to.
And where that comes from is the language of the leader. If you point your team towards revenue targets, you’ll only be mediocre. If you point your team toward something bigger and then use those commonplace metrics as a way to measure your progress, you’ll create what I call the tribe of true believers.
Check Out Selling With Noble Purpose
I’m going to ask you a question. It’s probably going to be an easy one to answer, but we ask most of our guests, what’s your favourite book?
Lisa: My latest book is Selling With Noble Purpose. I will tell you a book that has influenced me greatly, which is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning. And there’s a connection between that and the work that I do. Some people don’t think a man searches for meaning is about finding something to tether yourself to during challenging times. And he was a victim of the Nazi concentration camps. The thing that I realised in reading that book years ago was people need to tether themselves to something bigger than themselves and that that was the key to surviving a challenging time.
While my circumstances are not as dramatic, there’s a story in Selling With Noble Purpose about when my husband and I lost a business and I had to dig deep and find a way to come back from bankruptcy.
Selling With Noble Purpose is a lot of how I did it. I’m not comparing myself to Viktor Frankl. I’m saying I was inspired by him and I thought about him a lot. I thought about what I didn’t know 10 years ago when I was having to come back from the recession, but I realised in hindsight that tethering yourself to helping your customers versus tethering yourself to your revenue number, that will give you the tenacity to prevail.
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Get the assessment!
Go to Selling With Noble Purpose and enter the code BBF
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That’s good advice. I know that I found that a long time ago that I love helping people with technology. But what I really love doing is making a difference in their lives. And the book that changed my life is The Go-Giver by Bob Burg. He’s changed my mindset about business and how people hold your information.
Lisa: There is now reviewed data that says that everything that you’ve just described about helping others and putting them first results in you. Winning your market, having a more profitable business and enjoying your life a lot more.
Living for something bigger than yourself. Hopefully, that means you’re leaving a legacy behind or you have set a good example. If anyone is looking to better their business and make sure that you are selling with a noble purpose, you can jump across Selling With Noble Purpose and jump onto the assessment. Otherwise, stay good and stay healthy out there.