I get asked a bunch of questions about… you know… stuff. And in the early morning hours I enjoy responding (hopefully) thoughtfully and thoroughly. A couple members of my team suggested I start sharing my advice. Previous AMA’s are here. So, without further ado, please enjoy this installment of Ask MilEs Anything:
A reader asked me: “We aren’t the big brand in town, so how do we move up the charts in recognition?”
Dude. Thank you for asking this question. Considering there are close to 30 million businesses in America considered “small”, it is an issue that I am sure resonates with quite a few business owners. I could talk about this for three days. Lucky for you, I have people to stop me from doing that.
First of all, look at not being the big brand in town as realistic in the sense that to ignore them and pretend they’re not there is foolish, but also as an opportunity.
The big brands do exist.
They have resources you don’t have, both financial and also just from a brand strength perspective.
Sometimes though, large companies aren’t nimble. They don’t change quickly because they’re very set in their ways. To be fair, those ways are how they achieved their success, but this inflexibility may also be a blind spot to them.
Are there ways around the ways they became successful that still serve the customer? Anything they’re missing? Are there unleveraged assets you have which they’re a) overlooking or b) unable to use because of their size?
We’ve written another blog post about an exercise called positioning wedges. It requires you and your team to think about these things and identify the market leader and where they fall short. There’s your opportunity.
On top of that, some of the best advice I can give you, and it may sound counterintuitive, is to not try to win everybody. To move up the charts of recognition, decide who you won’t be. Choose who to lose and become really, really, really, REALLY good at helping the people you do choose to serve.
And, you have to do it not just through advertising. The big brand can throw money you don’t necessarily have at a problem because of their cash reserves. So, that means it’s critical for you to understand that marketing is not just advertising where you dip into your pocket and spend to a third party vendor for things like: display advertising on Facebook, a billboard, how your vans look, radio television ads, retargeting, or whatever else you can think of.
The rest of your marketing consists of the systems, policies, and procedures you use to not only treat your customers, but to treat your team.
What is the purpose of your company? What are the goals that you want to accomplish using the values in which you believe? It is more critical for you than it is for the brand leader to treat the members of your team as VIP-front-of-the-line-black-card-carrying customers.
They HAVE to know, like, and trust you.
Sing your song and run your playbook better than anyone else because if your employees don’t have the resources, the belief, the confidence, and the understanding in you and your purpose, then you’re never going to move up the charts of recognition.
Only when your employees truly believe that your place is the best place to work in town will they begin to manifest the values in which you believe.
Start where I ended. Make sure your employees know, like, and trust your purpose for growing your business and serving your customers. Then sit back and watch as the big brand in town scratches their head trying to figure out how the “little guy” is kicking their metaphorical heinie.