After offering marketing and branding services to small businesses and entrepreneurs for over 13 years, I’ve noticed one common challenge they all face — they don’t have a purpose-driven story that’s aligned to their customers’ needs.
What exists instead is a story that is patched together, continually changing, that tries to please everyone and doesn’t ultimately honor their original existence. Overall, their story is inconsistent across the brand and usually only focuses on them. This results in their ideal customers struggling to connect with the brand or even establish how the business addresses their needs.
So why are so many businesses getting it wrong?
There are probably a number of reasons why companies skip this crucial step to sustainably build their business.
One reason could be due to the ever-changing customer landscape which drives different marketing demands and needs. Another reason could be that while initially having a clear purpose about the product or service they want to offer the world, somewhere along the path to making a profit a company’s reason for existence and clarity on who they are serving was lost in their story, or was never communicated to start with.
Most businesses and entrepreneurs are stuck in a WHAT or HOW story. What their product does, what services they are offering, or how their product or service compares to others in the marketplace. Although this information is important to communicate, it should come secondary.
Marketing is essentially about communicating to your target audience why your product or service is the best solution for their needs and getting them to take action. Whether you use marketing psychology, branding, or the latest online viral techniques, achieving this is the main purpose behind your actions.
What can be done to get it right?
Whether I’ve been engaged as head of marketing, to build a website, develop a brand, or to complete copywriting for a company, I always start with a business visioning exercise to build the business foundation and develop a purpose-based story. Without this, all my efforts are wasted and will continually need to be duplicated as the story changes.
Advertising dollars and good marketing teams can’t make up for an unclear story and brand. If you aren’t clear on your purpose and whom you are serving, then how will your customers be clear you are the best solution to their needs? As companies evolve and pivot their services and products, the original purpose of the company shouldn’t change. Having a purpose-driven story in place allows you to survive even when market conditions or the company focus changes.
In this information age where customers have more choice, the demand for personalization and relevancy in their communications from businesses needs to become the norm. Companies still stuck in “it’s all about us” stories will automatically lose to companies incorporating their purpose into their “it’s all about you” story to their customers.
In a nutshell, customers care about themselves and how a product or service is going to improve their lives. They connect through emotions, which can be communicated through a vision/movement and pointing out how you can address their pain points.
To create a purpose-driven story that aligns to your customers needs, the following questions need to be clearly addressed and communicated:
- The ultimate purpose of your business
- The why, how, and what of your business
- Your brand personality
- What problem you are solving in the marketplace
- Who your customers are and their needs
- The challenges your customers face and what solutions you offer
- Your company language and main keywords
Investing time and money in this investigative and creative process, whether internally or through a marketing and branding consultant, will save your business time and money in the long run.
Featured photo credit: Death to the stock photo via deathtothestockphoto.com