Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Swimming

My face scowled as I pondered the content I had just ingested.  I recently read an article in Inc Magazine entitled, “35 Ways to MakeYour Business Look Bigger.”  The general premise is easily understandable, but my thoughts went to the logic behind the 35 ways.  Why would one want to follow ways to make a business appear bigger?  If someone is striving to make their business seem bigger then it’s implied that the business is small.  Why not just be ok with being a small business?  Why try to fool your clients into believing you are bigger than you really are?  Appearing to be something that you are not seems a bit misleading and downright dishonest doesn’t it?  Why make your business look like anything but what it is?  A business with integrity, clear communication, and a firm grasp on their brand/identity is a good business.  It boils down to brand or identity discovery and active marketing strategies.

I hold this same logic towards behavior and morality.  Rather than managing what you don’t want to be or what you want to be, be authentic and learn who you are then you can make plans to address behavior.  The same is true of business, before you go out building an awesome website, hiring a virtual receptionist, and implementing expensive marketing campaigns stop and become comfortable with your identity.  Once you know where you are then you can know where you are going and make appropriate adjustments.  If you’re lost in the middle of an ocean the worst thing you can do is start putting all your energy into swimming.  What if you swim the wrong way or further away from shore?  That would be a lot of wasted energy.  The best thing to do is identify where you are so you can plan to get where you’re going.  The benefit for just accepting or discovering your identity before running to the numbered steps so many “experts” offer is that you actually learn who you are, which is priceless.  Another benefit of slowing down enough to look in the mirror honestly and discover your identity is that you may easily overlook strengths and focus too much on flaws.  We have all been guilty of this, this is a reason why those 10x or 5x mirrors are not allowed at the Sloope household, I don’t want to celebrate or focus on flaws.  In identifying your brand you are also able to focus in on unique strengths that set you apart from others.  Slow down, identify yourself then cautiously start planning.

Once you know who you are you can know where you’re going.  Once you know where you are going you can bring people along.  This is where consumers or clients get involved.  If I pay a taxi driver $60 to take me from the airport to home and get dropped off somewhere else I can assure you I may pull a Hulk and flip that car, haha.  In all seriousness though, if a consumer or client is told that a company is something or is going somewhere only later to find out they arrived at a different location than told or experience a different identity than they were sold, it creates a loss of trust, which ultimately leads to no business.  Doesn’t it all boil down to trust anyways?  Consumers/clients trust a company to do what they desire therefore they invest money in return.  Obviously this is a very simplified story of how the free market works.  It is important to be clear with clients and consumers about exactly who you are, without filters, fireworks, or misleading grandiose marketing.  If you can gain trust authentically then you have a strong connection, lasting longer than the next set of steps offered by the next “expert.”

I’m all for a company appearing well put together.  Before money is thrown at marketing strategies brand management should eat up the majority of energy and resources if you ask me.  Putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t make it less or more of a pig, neither shall actions without clear branding.  Understand where you are before you start swimming, could get you a lot further and save a lot of energy.

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