Consumers make quick judgments on the fly about companies based on their storytelling every day. In this episode, Dave Mastovich talks about the significance of systematically gathering insights about what those judgments are, beyond the creative aspects, and how they compare with your company’s vision.
It’s the No Bullshit Marketing Show. I’m Dave Mastovich, CEO and founder of MASSolutions, the world’s only no bullshit marketing consultants. Someone reached out to me to ask a question, said, ‘not sure if I need a rebrand or not.’ And I said, ‘tell me what’s going on.’ Because this is somewhat common, I get people asking me this all the time, and they said, ‘well, we’re not really sure. I’m new to the company, we’re not really sure how we’re perceived. And we’re not sure how it looks and sounds. And we’re not sure of this and that.’ And I hear this again and again. And I think this episode can focus on the importance of branding and storytelling and how you can figure out where you are and where you want to go.
The first thing is, I think, often, these clients and potential clients haven’t taken much time to figure out where they are beyond themselves. In other words, they’ve talked internally to say, I think we’re perceived this way, I think we’re perceived that way. It does take some marketing insights. You do need to take the time to have someone going out and talking to current customers, talking to referral sources or centers of influence, talking to the general public. And yes, talking internally. I think you have to track what’s said, and you can just ask some basic open-ended questions about how people perceive you, what they think of when they think of you and what they think you do best, and what they think makes you unique. You have to get some kind of starting point of how you’re perceived. Then you have to decide does that match up with what your core values are and your mission, your vision, your purpose? See how close those two are. And the hope is that there’s at least some closeness there, and you’re not too far off. But then at that point, you can start looking at where are we today? And where do we go next?
That systematically gathering insights also digs into your target markets. You need to see your 80-20. 80% of your business is coming from 20% of your clients. How is that segmented by variables? 3, 4, 5, 6 variables, instead of the typical three. Most people have three variables for the entire market. Get into that fourth, fifth, sixth variable, use your own data first. Don’t do wishful thinking yet. Say this is exactly what our biggest target market is right now. We’ve sliced it into 4, 5, 6 variables. And we started out looking at our 80-20, then we sliced our 80-20 to see what kind of variables we could get. And we now build a target market. So now if you’ve looked at that target market of existing sales, you then go out and talk to them, you pick a sampling of that, ask some open-ended questions, see how they view you. But then also, take a look at the target markets based on how you think there’s people that aren’t buying that could be. You often see that for clients, as they say we think this type of person should buy from us, and we start drilling down and that becomes a target market, and then you find out how they perceive you. So the first step on branding, which is important to all your storytelling, is to figure out what that brand is today, figure out how it is perceived by that biggest current target market of who’s already buying, find out how it’s perceived by a target where you want to get more business from. And see how that matches up with how your internal team looks at it and how it matches up with your mission, your vision, your purpose, your core values. And now you’re systematically getting closer to building this brand and building the brand story and focusing on your big idea, your overarching theme that drives your storytelling.
But a lot of times companies haven’t taken the time. It doesn’t matter if you’re multibillion, multimillion or less than a million, those things I just described happen a lot. Even super big companies haven’t dug into the things I just described. So don’t think that ‘oh, this is because I’m a small or medium-sized business or this is because I’m a nonprofit’. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, doesn’t matter what location geographically you are. It doesn’t matter whether you’re B2B or B2C, it doesn’t matter the size of your company. It’s still happening where people aren’t actually assessing what the perception of their brand is today, and then clearly defining where they want to go. Before you even build the story, define what you want that brand to be based on what you’ve learned, based on what you know people love about you and think it makes you special, based on what your top customers are saying why they buy, and based on what you want to be. What you are and what you want to be. That’s hard work.
So a lot of times people will come to a speaking engagement, or watch a video or listen to a podcast, whether it’s mine or someone else’s, and we kind of want these top 10 lists or top five of this and that. And yeah, that is helpful. But sometimes you have to take a step back and say this is going to be harder than I thought. This isn’t going to be some easy solution because I listened to a podcast. But what this podcast did give you was the framework to figure out what your brand is today, then to match that up with where you want to go, based on your mission, vision and purpose, find out what your existing customers look like, and ask them what they think. And all of that stuff, then can drive an approach to build the brand and your brand story. So it starts with stepping back, systematically gathering insights on the competitive side, on the digital side, on the brand side, on looking at your existing numbers, looking at who’s buying from you now and what they think, looking at who should be buying from you and what they think. All of that brings you to where you can now make the most of your brand, because the importance of branding and storytelling is that we do make quick judgments about companies when we’re making a purchase. We do buy based on things we see and perceive. So your brand is vital. And it’s amazing to me how many of us, because I’ve been there at various points in my career, how many of us aren’t quite sure what our brand is today. And we actually don’t have it spelled out exactly where we want to take it to, we pretty much have a general idea. We all kind of say, ‘I want to be the best market environment, I want our healthcare to be able to help the quality of life for the people in our region.’ Okay, but what’s the brand to explain that? And how can that be believable, it has to be believable. So these are the steps to take so that we can maximize our brand, because the importance of brand in storytelling is hugely significant because we have seconds to get people to make that judgment about us, and whether they’re going to give us a chance to learn more about us and either choose us or choose the competitor.
That might not be exactly what you want to hear, under the title of the importance of branding and storytelling. But, it’s the no bullshit answer. There is a significant importance of branding and storytelling and most companies aren’t even close to maximizing it because they jumped to the creative. They jumped to a new logo, a new slogan or the new big idea. And they call that their rebrand. That isn’t maximizing your branding. And branding is so important to all of your storytelling. Beyond brand storytelling, it’s important to your business-to-employee storytelling. Your brand is important to your leadership storytelling. Your brand is important to your sales storytelling. Your brand is important to all kinds of stuff. And if you haven’t done that in the right process and follow the right steps, instead jump to ‘I think we know what we want our brand to be. Let’s bring in someone that’s gonna do a little bit of insight, ask a couple questions here and there. And they’re gonna come back and be super creative, and they’re gonna give us a new logo and tagline.’ You really need to dedicate the time to do that front end work. And a lot of companies will tell you that they’re going to do that. And I’m just gonna say that’s bullshit, because many of them aren’t following the behavioral science to drive the creative art as much as they could be. And so that’s why I think the importance of branding and storytelling is highly significant. But the importance of understanding what your brand is today, understanding where your brand wants to go, and can you make a realistic story that will be believable around where you want to go? Putting all that together before jumping into the creative and the tagline, the big idea, the new logo, all of that has to be through a lot of soul searching, a lot of gathering of insights, competitive intel, digital assessment, all that stuff needs to be done to make sure you’re prepared to jump into having the behavioral science drive the creative art to build that brand, because that brand will drive all of your storytelling.
If you want to learn more about how you can approach your brand, visit MASSolutions.biz/brand. Thanks for listening to another episode of the No Bullshit Marketing Show recorded in MASSolutions studios in bold, beautiful downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Remember, ask yourself, what’s the big idea? And build your story around the answer. It’s all about bold solutions. No BS.