Brand Persuasion

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Your potential customers need to know why they should buy from you and your brand.

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You’ve done the research and spoken with your brand’s potential clients, and you’ve also spent time defining and understanding your brand and who you are.

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Now the task is to figure out how do you signal your future buyers and bring them into the fold?

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You need to speak to your audience using the right platforms (i.e., social media platforms, events, podcasts) where they exist, and utilize the right voice, tone, and correct message.

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Formulating the visuals and messaging takes creativity. Getting seen in the right place and gauging if it works is a science.

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“Don’t think that those millions will read your ads to find out if your product interests. They will decide at a glance — by your headline or your pictures. Address the people you seek, and them only.” – Claude Hopkins

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Assignment: Write about the last 5 headlines/ads that were served to you, and what you remember about where they were and what they said. What worked to capture your attention? Was it the words? the design? the placement?

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(Make sure they’re the right buyer…)

Know More, Know Better

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In today’s modern world, brands must be aware.

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It’s crucial to know and understand how other brands, including yours, are currently functioning and living within the real world.

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With how quickly the climate and trends can shift, you should initiate a competitive review process sooner than later, but where do you begin?

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Start simply by examining the visual look and feel of your brand, followed by your key positioning points, mission, values, messaging, and the like.

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These initial metrics are a great starting point for examining your brand’s uniqueness (or lack thereof) amongst other brands within your industry, as most of this information is likely readily available and provided by your competitors.

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As soon as you begin competitive auditing, it will be evident where your brand is strong/weak, outdated/innovative, distinctive/common, etc.

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A competitive audit is usually the push that brings about a rebrand and/or strategic redevelopment that better aligns with where your brand is today rather than where it began. After all, like people, brands do grow.

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(Somebody’s always watching. 👀)

Get the Picture

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So have you ever taken a hard look at your competitors?

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And do you know who your real competitors are?

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Completing a competitive audit will show you where and how you are positioned amongst your competitors.

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An audit will also help you discover where you must pivot your brand in order to have and maintain the competitive edge.

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A competitive audit can encapsulate a range of data, from understanding the competitor’s usual quantitative measurements to their more qualitative metrics, like world perception, values, brand aesthetic, and more.

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The purpose of a competitive review has a large function for your brand. You and your marketing should look, feel, and sound different (and better) than the competition.

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“An audit is an opportunity to build a complete understanding of the business and establish context for the branding solution.” 
– David Kendall

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(If you’ve got it, flaunt it.)

Be the Only One

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When you find the thing that only you can provide, it’s time to make that piece very important to your desired buyers.

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Locally owned Nielsen’s Frozen Custard went so far as to put their Onl Only on a sign — “Only Nielsens uses the custard freezing machine patented by Steve.”

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I’ve never thought about the freezing method for custard, but now I personally can’t help but think that Nielsen’s custard must somehow be better because of Steve’s invention!

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Remember you should let the Only Only be known by your buyers, especially if you are the only one who can get a job done.

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And the only people who are turned off by the message in your Only Only are non-buyers. Stick with the group who cares and identifies with your Only-ness.

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If your product or service is identical to other offerings out there, then you need to find something ownable that makes you stand apart, like Nielsen’s—clarify what only you can provide.

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Question: What Only Only, over the next 12 months, would drive an increase of value for your brand? It could be an increase through sales, desire, hiring, or whatever else. What Only Only can you provide and how can you message this to potential buyers?

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(It’s really that simple.)

Make It Only You

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We believe that all brands have that one unique thing.

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Understanding the unique aspect of your brand, product, service, etc., allows you to play up your distinguishing characteristic, and it is the why that tells someone only you and you alone can accomplish their needs.

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We label this the Only Only. The only thing that you can provide—no one else.

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The Only Only can feel super niche, like it fits in a small pool, or it can be Blue Ocean Strategy large.

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You should only develop the Only Onlys, from the many potential available, that are truly meaningful, distinguishing, and interesting to potential or current customers/clients.

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Only Onlys stem from a variety of things, such as cost, benefits, care, people, availability, specific knowledge, and more.

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Action: Start to list your Only Onlys that easily come to mind. Maybe different products and services have their own unique propositions. For as many different products, services, and/or brands that you manage, work on listing and sorting your Only Onlys accordingly.

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(A shining example of a super niche Only Only ✨)

Marketing Algebra 101

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The effects of marketing will drive a wedge between your product and your competitor’s in a customer’s mind.

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But what factors can you utilize that will equate to creating this effect?

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Well, how about examining it this way—people, like me, purchase this X-product because of Y-reason. Now factor in your product or service as X in the equation.

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Let’s also think of the opposite too, where people, like me, would never purchase XX’s (your competitor’s) product because of YY (or perhaps it can’t meet their Y need).

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Solving for X + Y will become the equation that answers what your messaging should focus on for your various and key buyer personas.

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You find the solution to the problem, especially, when you examine interviews and data from your target customers.

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Action: Find and talk to a small sample of buyers that can help solve your X and Y. In addition to learning why people will and do buy from you, take the time to also get to know why people won’t buy from you.

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(It all adds up)

Stand Up. Stand Out

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What reason do you give your audience to choose your product or service?

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Your brand should have a connective ground that signals your audience as to why your product or service is “better” than your competitors’.

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And, definitely, this logic can stem from pricing, convenience, quality, style, etc.

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Just keep in mind that your competitive advantage may differ from buyer to buyer.

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Groups who purchase out of convenience may coexist among groups who buy out of trust, and these groups can coincide even with those who buy for status.

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Marketing with your competitive advantage displays and connects to your potential and current consumers with what can matter to them — plus, who doesn’t like to stand apart?

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Question: What is your current competitive advantage for your different buyer personas? Does your marketing appropriately reflect them?

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(It’s okay to brag sometimes.)

The Big Question(s)

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So now you know who you’re going to ask and you understand the process and value of arranging an interview—now what are you going to ask?

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We alluded to the notion that the purpose of these interviews is to help uncover the essence and ethos of your brand.

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You may choose to ask your interviewees to succinctly tell you about your brand. For instance, how do they perceive and tell you about your mission? your values? your goals?

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Though the interview is a grand discovery process, the last thing you want to do is exhaust your interviewee and garner nonspecific information. So keep your questions brand-focused and value-based, inquiring about what is accomplished by your brand as well as understanding the interviewee’s additional needs and desires that could be served to your audience through your brand.

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As you listen and observe, questions and additional forays into the responses you are given will naturally occur. Regardless if you have an objective in mind, the discovery process within interviews have the potential to bring about something profound or affirming for all brands. Just listen and ask.

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Action: Create a core list of 5 to 10 questions for your internal and external groups.

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“The discipline of asking bigger questions can lead to profound changes for brands.” – Marty Neumeier

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(Exhibit A.)

Asking the Tough Questions

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Interviews are more than asking questions and expecting a response.

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Interviews are a dialogue waiting to emerge, and, therefore, should be recorded (of course, with permission) so you can keep the conversation focused and undistracted. Plus, it just makes for a better experience (like being rid of any awkward long pauses and silence while trying to take notes).

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When arranging your interviews, be face-to-face. Why? Interviews are more than just aggregating data. Such an opportunity allows you to glean additional information that comes from a visually intuitive and interpretive place.

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As an interviewer, be prepared with your core set of questions that is ALWAYS customized to your interviewee. This gives them the opportunity to respond appropriately from their experience and background. Oh, and keep your questions a surprise so that the responses you receive remain spontaneous and genuine.

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The interview process requires trust in order to create an insightful rapport. So sit, observe, and listen while you inquire about your brand, taking in the strengths, weaknesses, and overall perceptions that are beyond your purview.

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Action: Create a list of what insight you hope to gain from your internal and external interviews.

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“So tell me what you want, what you really, really want” – Spice Girls, “Wannabe”

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(Meme incoming💨)

Gotta Do The Work

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For any agency, doing the research is an integral part of the process. Your first priority to knowing your brand includes many of the things we’ve spoken about in prior newsletters: the mission, the vision, the positioning, your users, etc.

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But a great starting point to understanding your brand or organization is to interview the key stakeholders.

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Well, who are your stakeholders? They’re the members and participants of your brand, and they can be either internally or externally relevant.

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Interviewing a variety of stakeholders provides you with extraordinarily valuable insight into your brand’s personality, voice, perceptions, and more.

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These interviews are an effective tool to help you take a deep dive towards uncovering the ethos of your brand—beyond the product or service.

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Action: Compile a list of the key stakeholders for your brand, then appropriately sort them within two different categories, internal or external.

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“Answering questions is relatively easy. Asking the right question is more difficult.” – Michael Cronan

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(The hard work pays off)