Tim Ferris, in my opinion, has one of the best podcasts on the planet. In episode #177 he interviewed one of my favorite people in the world, Seth Godin. In this episode, Seth shared some of his thoughts on marketing and how we all need to think small to go big. You can listen to the full podcast here. I had the privilege of “graduating” from Seth’s altMBA in January of this past year and the experience was life changing. This podcast awakened some lessons I learned in the altMBA program and reinforced the ideas I have gleaned from Seth’s books and other great marketers. While our culture is always looking for quick wins, those who play the long game usually are the ones who truly reap the largest reward.
“How fast until we see more revenue?” This is a question I have been asked at least a hundred times. When it comes to seeing a return on investment, businesses expect their marketing effort to deliver and deliver fast. While there are a number of things we can do to help jumpstart a campaign, truly successful marketing takes consistent work and commitment over time. Brands like Apple, Coke and Ford didn’t just pop up overnight. They played the long game and focused on building a connection with those they knew their product was for. Below are 4 things you can do to build a successful brand image that will stand the test of time.
Our lives are full of interruptions. From spam email to unwanted phone calls from robots, it seems as if there is no escaping. Brands that constantly force their way into our lives without permission leave their audience feeling violated. This is the exact opposite of building trust. With today’s consumer having more control over the buying process, marketers must think differently.
Our economy is built on connections. In order to earn permission, you must establish some level of relationship. This can be done through social media, your blog, an opt-in email list, etc. Without permission, you become an intruder. It’s the relationship that gives you, the marketer or business owner, the permission to share what you have with your audience. “Permission Marketing is just like dating. It turns strangers into friends and friends into lifetime customers. Many of the rules of dating apply, and so do many of the benefits.” ― Seth Godin, Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers
Marketing is really about telling a story. The goal is to help your audience immerse themselves into your story and picture what life could be with your product or service. With so many messages flying around it can be tempting to stretch the truth in order to attract more people to our story. The problem is when your promises don’t match the expected outcome, your brand credibility takes a hit. “When we recognize the fraud for what it is, we feel incredibly stupid. Something more than our bank accounts is damaged—our egos are damaged. As a result, it’s almost impossible for the marketer to regain our trust.” ― Seth Godin, All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World
Authenticity is the key to creating a story that resonates with your audience. Once you’ve earned permission to speak into their lives you need to tell the truth, and the whole truth. In my opinion, we underestimate people's ability to handle the truth, but being honest works. Let me give you an example. In Apple’s keynote on September 7, 2016, they released the new iPhone 7. The plus version comes equipped with a new telephoto lens. But, the software to accomplish all that lens can do is not yet complete. So instead of not telling the whole story, they shared what they plan to do and when they hope to release the software update. This was a bold move for a huge brand, but their transparency helps nurture the trust they have established with their tribe.
Why should someone buy your product or service? If you look across multiple industries you’ll start to notice a pattern. Most of the products and services in those industries are basically the same. Sure there are a few differences here and there, but the major differentiation is the price. Having the lowest price is not remarkable. Being remarkable is hard for one reason. If forces us to break the status quo and take a risk. “We run our schools like factories. We line kids up in straight rows, put them in batches (called grades), and work very hard to make sure there are no defective parts. Nobody standing out, falling behind, running ahead, making a ruckus. Playing it safe. Following the rules. Those seem like the best ways to avoid failure.”
― Seth Godin, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
There are very few brands that have been able to continue to push themselves past the “fear of failure” and into "being remarkable.” That doesn’t mean taking a un-calculated risk, but instead trusting your gut. There are many times in my life when I knew I could take my business full time, but the fear of failing prevented me. It wasn’t until I pushed past that fear and believed that what I had to offer was not only good but was also remarkable that things changed. As a marketer or business owner, if you don’t believe your product or service is remarkable, neither will anyone else.
After you’ve earned trust and told a powerful and truthful story about a remarkable product and service, what’s next? Consistency. This is one of the most underrated skills all marketers need to acquire. Having the ability to develop brand and marketing consistency is paramount to long-term success. Apple's is a common example in this case, and why shouldn’t they be. Everything they do, from their website to their products, has the same feel. Another company that does this well is Publix supermarkets. From their television commercials to in-store experience, everything matches. Consistency builds trust in your brand and helps to match your audience's expectations.
A phrase I use often with our team and clients is “everything communicates.” From the colors on their sites to the look and feel of marketing materials, everything says something to your audience about your brand. The goal of your marketing efforts is to connect with your audience, develop trust and deliver on the promises you make. Delivering on brand promises starts with connecting the meaning of the brand with the people they serve. "Great marketers don't make stuff. They make meaning.” - Seth Godin
Building a successful business or brand takes time. It can be hard to play the long game, especially when you see others around you who appear to be ahead. But don’t allow their position to determine your path. “The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo.” ― Seth Godin, Poke the Box. If you focus on earning permission, telling the truth, being remarkable, and keeping the promises you make, the harvest you’ll reap will be much greater than revenue. Be patient, keep shipping and stay focused!
"I was 40 years old before I became an overnight success, and I'd been publishing for 20 years.” - Mary Karr
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