Last month, we discussed the vital importance of having a marketing plan and how it shapes the direction of your organization. This week, we will continue in this vein in discussing brand positioning. As you’ve begun developing your marketing plan and diving deeper into visions and dreams for your business, you may have noticed some questions arising…
Why do I get out of bed every day? Is it just to make coffee and a profit? Am I in this work for something more? Am I inspiring anybody? Is this just about checking off tasks? What makes my company unique compared to our competitors?
If you haven’t experienced these popcorn questions yet, consider taking a step back from your marketing planning to thoroughly answer them. A crucial aspect of an honest marketing plan will be revisiting your brand positioning and your why. You also must redefine something we like to call your MVVP (mission, vision, value, purpose), and you must reconsider your Ideal Target Audience.
Let’s dive in…
Revisiting your Brand Positioning and your Why
Brand positioning has been defined by The Brand Journal as “the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market.” In other words, brand positioning describes how a brand is different from its competitors and where, or how, it sits in customers’ minds.
An integral aspect of brand positioning is uncovering your organization’s why. Your why is what motivates your company and your brand, outside of just making money. It affects what voice you use to communicate, what colors you choose for your website, the way customer service representatives answer the phone, and what design speaks your message through your logo.
In short, your why affects everything about your brand and your business.
About 12 years ago, Simon Sinek made this, why, discovery. He coded the difference between people like Martin Luther King, Jr., the Wright brothers, Apple, and everybody else. He said the difference looks like something called the golden circle. This circle, with “why” in the middle, “how” as the next ring, and “what” as the outer ring defines why some people and organizations can inspire and others can not. There are virtually no organizations that cannot define what they do. Most, if not all, organizations know how they do what they do. But, very few organizations know why they do what they do. By why, he did not mean, “to make a profit.” That is a result of what you do, not a passionate purpose. Sinek says, “the difference between leaders and organizations that inspire and flourish and those that don’t is that some understand their purpose, their cause, and why they get out of bed in the morning.” Sinek encourages organizations to think, act and communicate from the inside out–from their why out to their what.
“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
Sinek emphasizes that people buy from brands and stay loyal to brands that speak to their emotions. People buy identities, self-worth, “first place,” “above the status quo,” and things that “just make them feel better.” When organizations only communicate what they sell in facts, figures, and statistics, people literally go, “meh.” But, when for example, Apple communicates their why through messaging like, “We are here to make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it,” people believe they’re not buying just any ol’ computer, but the best computer. They are buying “first place” when they buy from Apple and they feel great about it too.
So what is your why? What is it about what you do that drives you? What are the underlying emotions in all of the different aspects of your work? What are some of the feelings you associate with your work that go beyond language–that reach beyond facts, figures, and 3 point plans?
Redefining your MVVP
Inevitably, revisiting your brand positioning through the evaluation of your why will lead to redefining the mission, vision, values, and purpose of your organization. Lean into this process! This is a natural and important effect of revisiting your brand and your why.
The mission of your organization is the compass that sets your team in the right direction. It is discovered by reaching into the heart of your why and pulling out all the important factors that support and are involved in your why. According to Forbes Magazine, an effective mission statement must be a clear, concise declaration about your business strategy.
Your vision statement is simply where do you want to be 5 to 10 years from now and more closely aligns with your marketing plan. You can expect the marketing plan or “mental model” (see previous Marketing Minute article) you’ve begun creating for your company to cultivate your vision statement. A good vision statement is an expansive view of how your company is going to leave a positive impact on customers and the greater community.
Your values are also formed largely based on your why, your past experiences, and your bravest dream about the kind of character and integrity you hope to lead with. If you are the leader of your company, your personal values will inevitably shape the values of the company as a whole. It is still vital, however, that you allow your employees to develop and share their personal values with your team. Your values keep your company firm, strong and honest.
“A value is a way of being or believing that we hold most important…Living into our values means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them. We walk our talk–we are clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviors align with those beliefs.”
–Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW
Research professor Brene Brown in her book, Dare to Lead, emphasizes that in values work, “we can’t live into values that we can’t name.” This is why establishing values and voicing them to your team is so important. When you name your values publicly, you are held accountable for living out those values. Here is another important note from Brown, “We have only one set of values. Our values can’t shift based on context.” Woof! This means we are called to live a certain way that runs parallel to what we hold most valuable regardless of the setting or situation.
We recommend you name 2-4 values and ask your team to do the same. Then, name the values of your company and consider how you and your company are living-out those values through behavior.
We won’t spend much time on this, nor do we need to. Your purpose is simply your why but as a whole sentence. It is important that you formulate that sentence, however, and take great care with it. When you feel run down as a leader or the country hits an economic crisis that affects your company, you will need to remember a clear, concise statement of why you are in this work. It doesn’t help you to hold a foggy, vague idea of what you are passionate about. State your why as a clear sentence and plaster it all over your organization.
Reconsider your Ideal Target Audience
You are almost there! You are almost ready to dive head-long into marketing planning. You’ve stated your why. You’ve revisited your brand positioning using that why. You’ve redefined your mission, vision, values, and purpose. Now you need to reconsider who your audience is. Get specific and ask yourself and your team, what are the variables that define our target audience? Below is a tool we highly recommend as you reconsider your ITA.
The Stephenson Model
The Stephenson Model is a great way to mentally grasp who you are trying to reach. Through this tool, business owners can identify the primary characteristics of their ideal client.
The Stephenson model is a 4 quadrant figure with an x and y-axis.
- Start by asking yourself, what is the primary characteristic (revenue is a great place to start) of our ideal consumer? Place this answer on the y axis.
- Next, identify the second characteristic of an ideal prospect. This could be personality, location, or type of business, such as a family-owned business. Place this characteristic on the x-axis.
- Now that you have both x and y-axis, prioritize your ideal to less-than-ideal prospects using your quadrants and find your most ideal spot. Here is where you shoot for the bullseye! Inevitably, you will also hit other potential clients that are outside your ideal prospect but aim for that bullseye–that target client–first. In marketing, you have to give your business the opportunity to hit the ideal target.
- After you’ve established your bullseye, sharpen your aim even more. Make a list of even more ideal variables; be as specific as possible and dive deeper. Maybe you identify the main decision-maker in a business you’re trying to reach. Ask yourself, what are they like? What capacity are they working in? Isolate and determine even more variables. This can go on and on…
In a game of darts, you can never aim too accurately. What do you have to lose? So, you hit the ideal target every time. That’d be ok! You’re bound to hit some of the outside numbers even if you aim perfectly. But, if you don’t sharpen your aim, you may not even hit the board. Defining your ideal target audience is always the best way to win in marketing and the process will help you define your marketing plan even more!
Revisit. Redefine. Reconsider. This is such brave work, but the pain and process are worth every minute. If you jump into this work honestly and clear enough space for the appropriate amount of discussion and reflection your team needs to implement these strategies, you WILL experience flourishing growth both personally and professionally. What could be better than that?!