On a recent LinkedIn update of mine, Kristi Winters left the comment “If you’re not ethical in your marketing and promotions, how can anyone expect you to be ethical in your business?” 

In that single comment, she absolutely nailed the essence of marketing. Marketing, done well, tells the world who you are, what they could expect from you, and why they should be interested in meeting you. 

Fill in the blank 

Her comment was in response to my post, which questioned whether a certain behavior was offensive. But, you can replace her ethical question with anything else that should describe your business. 

If you’re not ______ in your marketing and promotions, how can anyone expect you to be ______ in your business? 

______ could be filled in with:  Interesting, educational, impactful, innovative, challenging, etc. 

Be more than minimum expectations 

Most attempts at marketing in our industry only use price, product, and (promises of great) service to fill in their blank. 

In the book The Challenger Sale, the authors point out specifically that none of price, product, or service make the list of the top things buyers are looking for. They go on to point out that it isn’t that these things aren’t important. In fact, they are critically important and are the first boxes buyers check as they vet potential purchases.  

But these items are viewed as the minimum expectations. 

If a buyer doesn’t believe you offer a quality product, will sell it to them at a fair price, and that you will provide good service once they become a client, they won’t waste their time taking a meeting with you.  

But, guess who else they assume offers the same price, product, and service? Any of your competitors with whom they are willing to meet. 

You gotta be different to win 

You will never differentiate yourself and earn business by simply validating what the buyer already assumes on your behalf (quality product, fair price, good service). You will earn their business by bringing a sales process that makes it clear to them your ability to impact their business in ways your competitors can’t and in ways they likely don’t even expect. 

While the sales process is what will solidify in their minds your ability to deliver more than your competitors, you will never get to that conversation if your marketing isn’t getting their attention, setting new expectations, making them think, building their curiosity, and causing them to reach out to you. 

Reader challenge 

How have you filled in your blank? Go look at your marketing messages with as much of an unbiased buyer’s eye as you can. Does it . . . 

  • Get your attention? 
  • Set new expectations? 
  • Make you think? 
  • Build your curiosity? 
  • Cause you to want to contact you? 

Or, are you simply telling the world you can meet their minimum expectations of price, product, and service? 

If your marketing efforts aren’t getting the attention of today’s prospects, your list of tomorrow’s clients is going to be significantly shorter than it could be. 

Photo by RobinHiggins.

Defining Your Business Brand