Use Your Core Offer to Define Your Brand
I want to talk about brand. Because differentiation is all about brand. The more different you are, the more likely you are to create a brand that people are going to remember. In fact, as you start to differentiate your core offer and become more and more focused and streamlined around that core offer, your core offer becomes your number one brand asset. Not your website, not your logo, not your color scheme, not your elevator pitch, not your about page, not your sales page, not anything that you have put online, your core offer is your number one brand asset. Your core offer is your statement about what your business is all about, what your highest contribution is, how you go about changing customers' lives. And those are the things you want people to remember about your brand, right. Not the curly cue in your logo, or the color of blue you chose to put your name in. That stuff is important and it has its place, but your number one brand asset, the thing that matters most in getting ...
people to remember you, your company, your business is your core offer. And so this is another place where that junk drawer of offers you have, that what else problem really rears its ugly head. How do you establish traction? How do you establish a reputation online or in your local community if nobody knows what you do? Because what you do is a junk drawer of tools. How do you do that? You can't. You can't. And so if you're wondering, "How do I stand out online? "How do I cut through the noise? "How do I get people to actually remember me "when they are asking this question "or experiencing this problem?" You focus on that core offer. You focus on what it is that you actually do to make your highest contribution and impact people's lives. Because it's impossible to establish a brand if people don't know what you offer. It sounds really obvious, right. But how many of us have suffered from this problem. I have suffered from this problem. (laughs) I am teaching you a lot of really hard-won lessons today by the way. So if I am especially passionate about it, that's why. But it is impossible to establish a brand if people don't know what it is that you offer. And so I've also got a lot of quotes for you because this is something that I've really researched and thought through and thought so long and hard about as I have struggled with this problem and as I have watched people struggle with this problem for years and years. So another great book is called Scaling Up. It's by a guy called Verne Harnish. He's the founder of a company, a coaching and consulting company called Gazelles. And he says, "Ask yourself what is your customers" "greatest need. "What you're looking for is what really matters "to the customer that also demonstrably differentiates "you from the competition." That's the core of your brands. That's your core offer. It's what matters to the customer, that demonstrably differentiates you, your company, your core offer, from the competition. So again, if you're thinking about, "How am I gonna cut through? "How am I gonna get heard? "Why are people going to pay attention to me?" The reason people are going to pay attention to your marketing message is if your customers' greatest need lines up with what you offer, and you're offering in a way that finally gets them something different than what they've had in the past. That's what Bombas has done. That's what we've tried to do. And you see it in every brand new company that comes out and makes a huge difference in their market, you see this at play. That's how that brand recognition becomes almost instant where people get so excited about a brand new product in a super crowded market. Like how does that happen? This is how that happens. And so the more you can focus on figuring out how your product is gonna be different, how it's gonna take advantage of that inevitable opportunity in your crowded market, link that to the customer's greatest need, and build a brand around that based on your core offer, you will cut through. People will pay attention. People love this stuff. They want their needs met, right. They want their questions answered. They want their goals met. It doesn't take tons and tons of money. It doesn't take tons and tons of time. It doesn't even take tons and tons of legwork. It takes some thought work. So again, as we kind of tear down the resistance to this concept of streamlining and focusing your business, I want to make that really clear. That this is an opportunity to get some really fast results by simply deciding to focus. Yeah.
I am going down a rabbit hole where I'm now deciding like, "Oh, this core offer could also ... "I could put this other thing that I've been thinking about "and this other thing that I offer into it." And obviously one part of why people like what I offer is because it's streamlined and I don't want to overwhelm them. So where's the middle ground where ... I'm having a hard time with deciding ... Is it a good idea to bring in all these other things that create the answer to what my customers' greatest need is? Or is it better to be singularly focused? And I know you're going to say, "That depends on what you're offering."
It won't actually. Yes, the vast majority of times, I'd say, "It depends." This time, I'm not going to. Maybe every so often it would depend. But I will tell you I've never regretted streamlining my business. I have never regretted focusing more. I've never regretted making it easier for people to get what they need through the one thing that I'm selling.
Never You ask where is the middle ground. Who says there has to be middle ground? Great companies aren't built like from the lazy middle. Not that you're being lazy. But they're not built in that area. They're built by making a really strong statement of, "This is how we create value. "This is what we have to offer. "This is the solution to your problem." And so I find that the more things get complicated, the more that argument that, "This is the solution for you," gets broken down. And so as I've gone through a couple of iterations of very streamlined business models, I've found that the easiest thing to say is either, "This is exactly the solution you need "because I've done this and I've done this "and I've really built it for exactly your situation." Or, "This isn't the right product for you." Not, "Oh, you should have this other thing over here "that I've saved and kind of left off on the side." Does that make sense?
Okay, yes. And I know, feeling that resistance. I'm loving it. I knew this was gonna be a really resistancy kind of class and a challenge, and I'm loving it already. Any other questions? Good? Ready to move on? So along those lines, what are the other options in your market lacking for your customer specifically? What are the other options in the market lacking for your customer specifically? In other words, what are your customers complaining about? What are your customers saying, "You know I tried this thing and it didn't work "for me because ..." Or, "I really hate that this ... "I'm doing this program," or "I'm working with this company," or "I've contracted with this group "but I really hate blank." What are those complaints that exist in your market? We kind of started to look at that market analysis and we're gonna come back to that for your company specifically. But another angle that you can take with this is looking at all the complaints that exist in the market. Don't just look on the positive side. Look on the negative side too. What are people complaining about? And most specifically what are the people that you care most about complaining about? How are those other options not meeting their needs? I've got a couple of examples of this. This is my friend, Dr Michelle Mazur. If you watched the Creative Marketing Plan class, you know Michelle. She's the founder of a company called Communication Rebel. And she's a speech coach. Now there are lots of speaking coaches out there. There are lots of people who can help you get over stage fright. There are lots of people who can help you sell from the stage. There are lots of people who can tell you, "Walk stage left, walk stage right. "Do this thing with your hands." There's lots of people out there who can do that. What Michelle does is different. Michelle helps people create speeches, great speeches: speeches that get the gigs booked, that gets the book sold, that gets people to work with you. Not because you've sold them, because your speech was so damn good that they couldn't help but take the next step with you. In other words, what Michelle offers is not just more speaking coaching, she offers speeches that sell. Speeches that sell. That's how she's taken advantage of complaints in her market. That's why I hired Michelle to help me work on speeches as well. I didn't need someone to teach me to walk here, walk there, do this with my hands. I certainly don't have stage fright. I love this. I needed someone to help me structure a speech that I knew people would want to take the next step with me. Jennifer.
So if I understand how she differentiates herself is that she teaches her clients how to write compelling speeches. Like it's a compelling content, not glitz and showmanship. But what you say is transformative for people, or inspiring.
Yeah. Um-hmm. Here's another one. This is my friend, Joanna Wiebe's company, Airstory. She also has a blog called Copy Hackers, that I highly, highly recommend. Joanna created Airstory in a market where things like Google Docs, Evernote, Scrivener exist. These are huge products with millions or billions of dollars behind them. But Joanna noticed that her copywriter friends, her copywriter clients and customers, they had some complaints. This is an already well-developed, crowded market, right. There are plenty of places you can go if what you want to go online is write. Do we really need new writing software? Yeah, we really did, because the complaints that people had were around collaboration. Even though Google Docs has a certain amount of collaboration built in. Evernote has a certain amount of collaboration built in. It wasn't what her people needed. For her specific group of people: content marketers, marketers of all kinds. Writers who were writing sales pages, and landing pages. They needed to collaborate with ease. And so she built Airstory in a crowded market to allow marketers to collaborate with ease. That was the hole she saw. Those were the complaints she was listening to. And she's been very successful with getting that product known for exactly that thing. Let's look at CoCOMMERCIAL again. There is no lacking of business support offers, right. There are a hundred gazillion coaches out there who will coach you. There are a hundred gazillion courses out there, Greg will help you build one, that can help you with your business. There are so many different ways that you can get support for your business. And yet, I still heard complaints. I still heard people say, "I just feel like "everybody else knows something that I don't." That was the tip off to me. "Everybody else knows something that I don't. "I just feel like there's something missing." Or, "I've got a question, I just don't know where to go "to get the answers." Google is not helpful. So what I did was build CoCOMMERCIAL for unprecedented access. Never before have you had access to people this smart and savvy who have been there, done that, are still doing it every single day, who aren't just some guru, or some expert, that did it once for themselves and now are gonna teach you how to do it yourself. But people who are actually putting in the work. So unprecedented access was the answer to the complaints that we were having. Or hearing, not having: hearing. And so unprecedented access has this benefit to customers of not just ... It's not just our differentiator. It also allows us to say, "Yes, we're different "because we allow you unprecedented access. "Unprecedented access allows you to talk with people "you've never been able to talk to before. "Allows you to meet people you've never been able to meet. "Allows you to get questions answered you've never been able "to get answered. "That's the benefit to you." So what is the benefit of your differentiator? What's the benefit of your differentiator? How is your offer different? Or how is it going to be different than what's on the market? And what's the benefit of that? Does anyone have one off the top of their head that they're like, "Yeah, I got this. "I know what people are complaining about. "I know how my product is different. "And here's why that matters to customers."
I'll go. I think one of the things that I'm seeing out there with course building is the really good and legit courses are really, really pricey. They cost a lot of money. And the cheap courses aren't very good. So I think there's a nice place for high quality, well priced courses out there that people can take so they don't feel like they're spending the bank on it. So I think it's a really nice niche to fit into.
Yeah, and how does that ... That's probably obvious, but how does that benefit your customer?
I think it's an easier entry point for them. I think they'll be able to bite it off a little bit. And if I can figure out how to make it easy for them to do it, cause I think that's also a differentiator, is how can they get through it themselves real easily, I think that would really be helpful.
Yeah, so I would caution you around building the benefit around price. Because price doesn't have the urgency behind it, right. And so your benefit really you want that to be something that it's like, "Oh I have to have that." No one has to have something just because it's affordable. They have to have it because of a result that it provides or because of a particular outcome that you're promising. And we'll get to that, that stuff. But it also has to help them fix a problem that they haven't been able to fix in the past. And so you could say the problem that they've had is that they haven't been able to afford those other courses. But just from personal experience, I think you'll find that if they can't afford this thing, then they probably can't afford it even if it's 50% less. And so I want you to really think about not just differentiating based on price, but based on something that has that kind of really compelling benefit to someone that compelling result, outcome, helps them: a different style maybe. And I think that might be what you're getting to with the second piece there where you're thinking through like, "What is gonna make it easy for people "to finish this course? "To actually apply this stuff?" That, I really like your thinking there because that's gonna lead you to some, maybe to a different style of learning, a different style of using the technology that exists to facilitate learning, an application. And so if you can say, "My program is reasonably priced "and delivered in this different style." And that's going to allow you, or so you can, actually get it finished, apply what you've learned and reap the benefits from what you've learned. Now there's a benefit to your differentiator.
Does that make sense?
It does and a follow up question to that, you've talked a lot about hearing what people are saying and trying to fill a need. Where does testing come in?
Yeah, we're gonna talk about that when we talk about product market fit. And then we're gonna talk about also listening and getting that kind of feedback. So right now, what we're essentially doing is building a hypothesis. From what you know, from what you can see in the market, I believe this is the opportunity I have. I believe this is the benefit of that opportunity to my customer. And I'm gonna create something that is my initial experiment. And then by the end of today, I think it's less than four. It's Product Market Fit if I'm remembering our lesson plan by number accurately. We're gonna talk about how you cycle through that so that you take that initial hypothesis, get actual data and experience and feedback from it, and then little bit by little bit by little bit rework that hypothesis until it's perfect and the yeses come really, really easily. So as you start thinking about what the benefit of your differentiator is, why being different in your market actually matters to the customer and not just to you, you start to formulate a brand promise. In other words, you're saying something on a much bigger level. You're making a statement about why your company exists and how it's out to help people. How you're out to make that highest contribution. That's what your brand promise is all about. And so it really comes down to exactly what I just said to Greg. It's your differentiator. It's what makes you different in your market. Plus, the "so you can" outcome. In other words, these are three magic words that you can use to tie what makes you different, that opportunity you've spotted in your market for your core offer, to why it actually matters to your customer. So CoCOMMERCIAL is different because we give you unprecedented access so you can ask people who've been there, done that, are doing it every single day the business questions you have today, not six months from now. See how I did that? You want your questions answered today, I have a differentiator for that. (laughs) And I bring those two things together with those three magic words: so you can. How is what your product does different than everything out in the market? And what does that allow your customer to accomplish? What is that "so you can" outcome? Anybody want to take a stab at this? I know I'm putting you guys on the spot early and often here. Jennifer.
Okay, so if I'm understanding where we're going with this, you want us to look at what our core offer would be and then put this phrase together?
Okay, well first of all, I have to say I've changed my core offer 'cause this is something I've been talking to my accountability buddy about. So I'm assuming too with a core offer, we can have products now if we realize this is our core offer, we build it, and we just shift to that.
The differentiator, high-end artists need to know how to move to the next level. The marketplace is saturated with people who will take you if you're a part time artist and you want to be full time. You're mid career. So my offer is that I work with high end artists so that you can get those grants, get into museum shows, because you're writing and speaking about your work more powerfully.
Beautiful, beautiful, I love it. Yeah, that's awesome. So what you're seeing in your market is everybody else's offers are really geared for artists who are kind of taking it from side hustle to full time. And you want to take people from full time to big time.
The key thing that they can't do, if you're really wanting to work at that level, they don't know how to speak theoretically about their own work. It's in there conceptually. But they don't know how to use the terms.
[Tara} Got It.
'Cause they're never taught that. But they have incredibly amazing things going on in their work, but they don't know how to say that. And the grant reviewers and the museums, the curators, they all want you to speak at that higher level.
Got it. You know why I love what you're talking about right now? 'Cause you're very passionate about it.
Well 'cause it drives me crazy that people ...
Good, it drives you crazy.
But the thing about my field as an art historian that drove me crazy was that people can polish a turd.
I can polish a turd and I can see it and spot it a mile away. And so I know that a lot of us can spin bullshit. Let's face it. But what's sad is when there's something really substantive in somebody's work, and they don't know how to say it. And so their work's being dismissed because they can't bring it out.
Gotcha, so you're gonna help people talk about their work conceptually at the level that they need to get the money that's gonna fund the next level of their work, take them to the big time. Wait I forgot the so you can.
You're gonna help people talk conceptually about their work so they can hit the big time, get the grants, take their work to the next level.
Boom, brand promise. Beautiful, love it. And I love how passionate you are about it.
But what's crazy is it's like, "Yeah, but I wasn't gonna be doing that for another year." 'Cause I was answering other questions that have already come up. Like Greg and I were talking about this morning, I've already had people it's like, I'm teaching a and it's not working. I've had curating opportunities; I don't understand what it is. So I've been addressing these little problems and I keep getting more people asking me the bigger problems and like I'm packing to come here and a friend had a $25,000 grant application and I'm sitting there. I'm like, "Seriously, oh fine, just send it to me." And this is my accountability buddy. I'm like, "You owe me. "And if you get the grant, we're going out to dinner."
Yeah, yeah. That brings up a great point which is that part of the resistance to streamlining your business can be that imposter complex piece. Like, "I was not planning on talking about it." But it's so true. You were thinking, "Oh, this is eventually "what I'm going to get to. "This is a year out; this is two years out; "this is five years out." There is no better time to focus on your highest contribution than right now. And so many of us, digital small business owners, are putting off making our highest contribution because we just are trying to make ends meet. We're just trying to piecemeal things together. And I'm asking each and every one of you, each and every one of you, to decide today, "This is going to be my highest contribution "and I'm all in. "I'm all in, yeah."
So with the next two days, we're working through the process. 'Cause I hadn't figured out how I was gonna do it. I mean, I knew the concept, but I wasn't sure what it would look like as the product itself. And that's why I was thinking it would be a year out. Because I understand the need, so I understand the hole. I've heard the questions. I know what people do but I hadn't figured out what the product itself pulls together as.
Yes, so we're not necessarily going to talk about what the product itself looks like. Because that is a "depends" answer. That is up to you to create and innovate on. I will help you find and refine the hole, the opportunity. And when you find that opportunity, it starts to shape that product. And so actually this piece of it: defining what the hole is, defining your unique selling proposition, defining your value proposition. Even though it feels like, "Well I need to know "what the product is before I can do these things." No, you do not need to know what the product is first. You do not have to have the product built to say, "This is the value proposition "I'm gonna go to market with." And defining that value proposition, defining the hook behind that product is going to help you give it shape. So everything that we're doing is sort of the framework for creating the what it looks like without actually answering that question. Make sense?
Okay, cool. I like how much nodding there is here. We're gonna be creating that framework and answering that question without answering that question. So, if you at home, if you guys here are still thinking, "I know this is what my highest contribution is. "I know this is the tool I want to build "or the job that I want to help people get done. "I know what that thing is. "I just don't know what it looks like." Even though these next few exercises are gonna feel kind of conceptual and maybe like rushing things, or like, "What am I working with here?" What you're actually work with here is the framework for how you're going to define what that looks like, how you're going to develop and build that product. And so this process that actually feels like it's the end of the process is much better suited when it's the beginning of the process. When you get this stuff right first, building the product is easy. Like if you ask startup founders here in San Francisco which is harder: defining the value proposition and finding the opportunity in the market or writing the code. Like writing code to you might seem impossible, but let me tell you they could do that in their sleep. It's finding the opportunity and defining the value proposition that's hard. That's the hard part about a startup. That's the hard part about your company. Building the product, writing the code, writing the content, whatever it looks like for you, delivering the service, that's the easy part. That's the fun part. You already know you're awesome at that. You could do it in your sleep. We need to figure out how to sell it. We need to figure out why people need it. We need to figure out what the benefit of it is. That's the important part. Alright, and so that's what we're gonna be doing. But, we're just getting started. As I've been saying, all of this stuff is yet to come. This lesson is about breaking down that resistance. It's about figuring out, "Alright, I can do this. "I can streamline this business. "I can get focused. "I can get out of the junk drawer "and get down to my highest contribution." And that's why we're going to continue to build on what we did in this lesson as the lessons go on. So if you're ready to earn massive traction in your market ... Do you want massive traction in your market? Yeah, I thought so. Be ready to stand out from the competition? If you're ready to streamline your business operations to always know what you're selling and how it contributes to your mission, you are not going to want to miss anything that's coming up.