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You’re a chicken.
The one running your business or startup day in and day out.
The one who thinks any customer is a good customer.
The one wondering why your marketing efforts and sales materials aren’t converting as well as you want.
The one stuffing many different messages into your website because you don’t want to leave anyone out.
The one who always says, “yes we can do that” even when you’ve never done it before, just so you get that next sale.
You’re a chicken. Scared.
Scared to choose a single customer. Scared to narrow your tactics to a very small set of effective efforts. Scared to choose a single message on your website. Scared to say no to the wrong customers—the ones that will be a drain on you and keep you from reaching your long-term goals.
You’re too scared to make choices. And it’s this fear that is the single biggest factor in holding back your business.
THE ONE THING THAT STUCK
Back when I launched a pilot test of an online course that teaches marketing strategy to small business owners, and something happened that I didn’t expect.
I thought that the marketing concepts and frameworks I invested a lot of time in would be the most appealing and useful components of the course. Things like competitive frameworks and positioning templates.
While they were helpful, there was instead an unexpected single slide that hit home with small business owners. Here it is:
This was a surprise. Not because I don’t think it’s useful, but because it wasn’t the focus of my attention at the time. I actually put this slide in at the last minute because I figured there’d be some marketing novices in attendance.
I wanted to encourage them and let them know that they don’t have to be a career marketer to practice good marketing. They just need to understand how to “think like a marketer.” And I wanted to give them something really simple to help them do that.
To the business owners taking the course, it was the most memorable and useful point I made in the entire course. During my 1:1 coaching calls between lessons, this came up and was mentioned by students as the most powerful thing I said to them.
How to think like a marketer:
- Think like your customer—the #1 rule of marketing is to be relevant
- Start with strategy—the #1 rule of strategy is to make choices
CHOICE IS LESS RISKY, YOU JUST DON’T KNOW IT YET
You have more to lose if you don’t make the tough choices. Your business actually depends on it. It’s counterintuitive, I know. But be more specific and your relevance and competitiveness increase, meaning sales increase.
Be too broad and your relevance and competitiveness decrease. Your message isn’t appealing because it isn’t directed at anyone. And by trying to solve too many problems with your product or service, you don’t actually solve any of them as well as you could if you made some difficult choices.
Your business will simply take longer to die and, by then, making a change will be infinitely more difficult. The great marketing strategists know this. It’s how they win. They aren’t afraid, and you shouldn’t be either.
It takes courage. Bravery.
“But I need to be smart,” you say.
Yes, you do. And the smart choice is actually the same as the courageous choice.
That discomfort you feel? It’s your friend. It’s a sign that you’re supposed to make a choice. In fact, it matters less which choice you make and matters more to simply make the choice.
So, don’t be a chicken. Make the leap, and set your business up for success starting right now.
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow/connect with Kevin on LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter.