Are You Really Who You Say You Are?

There are business owners out there who believe they, and their business, are one thing when they really are something else.  The problem creeps in when they start telling people who they are and the customers (and the public in general) discover the business is entirely different than how it’s portrayed.


This, on the surface, appears to be a public relations disaster waiting to happen.  It is more commonly known as marketing myopia, and can be corrected.  That’s the good news!

A common example is the owner of a business that sells insurance.  The type of insurance has little significance, primarily because whatever the type of insurance is offered to potential customers, roughly half of the population will have an adverse reaction to the term “insurance.”  The same percentage, give or take a few percentage points, applies to car sales, real estate agents, consultants, plumbers, and virtually every other occupation.  Why?  More on that later.

Think about insurance in its most basic form for a minute.  Insurance is protection for the purchaser from some accident, death, or the negligence of some other party.  Except in the case of dying, the owner can rest assured that his or her property is covered against a loss.  When the policy holder dies, the insurance is intended to take care of loved ones, although it can never replace the companionship that is lost.

What is the end result of having a policy?  Peace of mind.  The ability to sleep well at night.    Reduced risk in case of loss.  Protection.  What is that insurance agent selling, from the customer’s point-of-view?  Pick one of the above, such as peace of mind.

Before we move on to other examples, let’s go back to the reason why so many people have an adverse reaction to various professional occupations.  If you had a painful experience in the dentist’s chair when you were a child, how positive are you likely to feel about dentists in general?  Over the years since, you’ve probably shared your uncomfortable experience and fear with countless other people. You probably wait to go see a dentist until you have cavities or need a root canal, which creates another less-than-pleasant experience … and the cycle continues.

Any person who’s had a bad experience with an insurance agent or policy claim has done the same thing, so the more types of insurance and agents that are in business, the greater the chances of bad experiences.  We tend to forget the good experiences, so it becomes natural to have apprehension about various occupations, especially those involving sales.  People don’t like to be sold; they like to make their own decisions.

Consultants are another good example.  Business owners shy away from consultants because they have the single perception that a consultant is going to cost them money.  The truth is a consultant should help a business make money!

Let’s look at some more examples.

If you operate a tavern and someone asks what you do, do you tell them you run a bar or serve alcohol to get people drunk?  Maybe.  Would it sound better if you explained that you’re in the business of providing entertainment in a fun, relaxed environment?  People can drink alcohol anywhere.  What you provide is an experience.

As a restaurant owner, do you tell people you run a restaurant?  Yes, it’s true that’s what you do, but what they’re really looking for is the answer to why you do what you do.  Try telling people you provide delicious food and exceptional service in a family friendly or cozy, candle-lit environment … whatever’s appropriate for your establishment.  The right answer is far more likely to pique a person’s curiosity and be interested in giving you business than the fact you run a restaurant.

A carpet cleaning business helps people keep their living spaces clean and healthy.

A website company creates a global presence and market place.

A gas station enables car owners to keep driving their vehicles.

A plumber reduces the risk of water damage or ensures a clean supply of drinking water.

It’s our hope this has opened your eyes, and minds, to taking the time to think about what it is provide as a product or service to customers.  A manufacturer of baseball bats turns pieces of wood into sporting equipment but, from the consumer’s perspective, offers a quality product to play a game at a professional level.

Contact Brand Irons if you’d like some help sifting through the jumble of what you offer so you can concentrate on telling people what it is you provide to them