In John Jantsch's recent e-newsletter he tosses out a challenge to small business owners or to frankly anyone selling anything to anyone.
What's the Measure of One Word?
Can you or your customers define your brand with one word?
It's absolutely essential that you find a way to differentiate your business in a meaningful way. I know I talk about this all the time, but it's that important.
What if you interviewed a handful of clients and asked them this question: "What's the ONE word you would use that best describes what we do well?" Is it fast, attentive, welcoming, creative, cheap, cool, techie, smart, caring? One word is tough, but you need to get there. One simple word that sums up how you are different. If you can do that, and it's a word that means a lot to a lot, your marketing job will be significantly easier.
Can't think of a word? If your business was a car, what type would it be? Why? What are the qualities you admire in people? What color is your business? What kind of music do you sound like? What kind of plant would you be? Why? (Sorry if I'm scaring some of you with this!)
Got your word? Now, how does everyone in your firm define and own that word. Starbucks uses the word welcoming. If you sneak a peak back in the back room of a Starbucks you might find a bulletin board full of "thoughts on welcoming" written by the staff.
What if you asked all your clients and associates to help you come up with your word and then asked them to give your their thoughts on what that word means or how they experience that word. (This would make a very fun activity for a client appreciation party – just add beer.)
If you actually did that you might uncover some incredible marketing material and may even come up with the motivation to inject your word and all its various meanings into everything you do – make your word your filter for every marketing decision.
That's how a small business brand is built, that's how you differentiate your business.
The trick after you find your word is to also find ways to measure how well you are doing building awareness and successfully living it. Sometimes the intangibles are where the most meaningful data lie. How happy are people? How joyful does the office seem? How quickly do you return client's calls? How often do you receive referrals? How many handwritten notes do you send? This is the stuff that can determine if you are living your brand or not.
Don't think you need to mess with such silliness? Your clients probably already have one word in mind, the question is did you plant it intentionally or accidentally?
My word: practical. How do I know? People tell me, all the time.
What's your word? Related article – Small Business Ecosystem
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In a workshop that I offer, Promote Your Business, participants are challenged to hone their mission statement down to three words – memorable words that describe what you offer. Mine are "Words People Read."
But one word. John's challenge isn't so much finding one word that describes your services but more the EXPERIENCE. His word, practical, paints a picture that although you can count on great marketing advice, the latest tips and trends as it relates to marketing your business, you know going in that whatever he tells you will be practical. Not meant for the million dollar marketing budgets, but for you and me – something affordable, quick and effective.
Starbucks word has nothing to do with the coffee they offer but again with the experience you'll feel when you walk through the door: welcoming.
Oh man, John, this is a tough one. In the past my one word was probably FAST – as in turn around time. I will have to ask the question of my customers if that is still the case or if the word has changed. And do I want my one word to be FAST?
At least it isn't coupled with CHEAP. Or worse: LOOSE.
Deborah Chaddock Brown
Professional Writer, Pondering One Word
John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award winning blogger and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide published by Thomas Nelson.
He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing Duct Tape Marketing.system. You can find more information by visiting