Full disclosure....this page is pretty lengthy. This is partly because I'm a writer, and partly because I know how important it is for you to understand my approach to branding.
Have you ever heard that expression, “It was so hard to sell, I couldn’t even give it away.”? Well, that was a saying I became intimately familiar with when I began my career in sales. You see, I was a life insurance representative. You know what’s harder than selling insurance? Nothing… Nothing is harder than selling insurance.
No one wants to talk about death, take a physical, disclose their debts, only to pay for a product they will never live to benefit from. I often considered switching to vacuums.
As I sat down with prospect after prospect at their kitchen table (because that’s how old I am) I would listen to their stories and what I discovered was that no one who bought a policy from me actually wanted an insurance policy. What they were interested in was security. The reason they were willing to pay month after month for a piece of paper they had likely never read all the way through was because it allowed them the peace of mind of never again having to worry about leaving their loved ones in financial hardship.
Once I understood I was not in the sales industry, but in the solutions industry, everything changed. I went on to be a nationally ranked sales representative and enjoyed a career in sales and also in sales training and development with various corporate companies.
This journey allowed me to work with Fortune 500 companies, international clients, and inspiring local businesses. From copywriting to product rollouts, helping companies achieve better positioning was my jam.
Then, one day my husband got this crazy notion to open a restaurant and asked me to join him.
This will be great we thought. My husband was a well trained and talented chef and was a seasoned marketing trainer. What could go wrong?
Within four years we had four lines of business and served both individuals and corporations. Although revenue was climbing, our profit margins were shrinking and we couldn’t understand why.
Then, sometime in the fifth year, as we rolled out our fifth line of business, our volume began to shift in the wrong direction. We did what every sleep-deprived, exhausted entrepreneur does in this situation. We panicked and worked even harder to try and turn things around.
We went from a critically acclaimed restaurant with regular TV spots and a packed house to a ghost town.
Although we didn’t know it at the time, we had two key factors working against us. One was our background and success in corporate. You see, we thought we could use the exact, unmodified strategies we’d used to achieve success in our corporate careers in our bootstrap startup.
The second was that we thought we had a marketing problem, but that was not the case. We had a brand leadership problem. In the five years we were open, our business shifted and pivoted so much, that there was no one at the helm. We were so busy running the day to day tasks of the business, we didn’t know which items were bringing in the most volume, which had the greatest margins, who our ideal customers were, or even where to find them.
And then it happened… I got unexpectedly pregnant and was no longer able to put in 18 hour days. With a heavy heart, we decided to close our doors. My husband went back to hotels and I began working as a freelance copywriter and ghostwriter.
As the great Marie Forleo says, “Everything is figure-outable”
And figure out I did!
Inspired, by not only my own challenges but also those of my small business community, I was determined to understand what existed in the gap between small business and industry leaders like, Nike and Starbucks.
How were these big brands able to command such attention and loyal followings even through growing pains and shifting markets?
I took courses and read books. I connected with gurus and dissected case studies. And as I peeled back the mystery, layer by layer, I finally arrived at the core of successful businesses.....BRAND!
Remarkable BRAND IDENTITIES were found at the center of every wildly successful brand. And who was responsible for creating these remarkable brand identities? Remarkable brand leaders. These leaders crafted charismatic brands with deeply rooted identities that informed every aspect of the company. This was the secret to creating clarity, trustworthiness, and desirability. They allowed businesses to build teams that "got it" and customers that acted more like ambassadors.
What’s more, they understood how to intentionally develop an offer for their target buyer and position their brand in front of these buyers in the right way and at the right time.
I began to test my theories on friends who owned local businesses and the results were amazing. In fact, their entrepreneurial friends were asking them what they were doing differently. Slowly, I began to take on consulting clients on a referral basis and before long, it was a full-time gig.
As I developed my consulting career, one thing troubled me. What will happen to these brands after I’ve come in and cleaned up their brand? Had I really permanently solved the problem, or years later would I find a re-cluttered organization?
We see it all the time. Organizations abdicate the responsibility of creating a brand strategy to an advertising firm. Yet, the purpose of an advertising firm is to strategically COMMUNICATE your brand’s value and identity, not create it. They focus on awareness and conversion strategies. What most small marketing firms are not equipped to do is create the brand - that's your job.
As I got deeper into my research, this point was becoming increasingly significant. Behind every remarkable brand was an equally remarkable brand leader. I needed a way to not just hand over an “easy to sell” brand and hope they continued to stay on brand, but rather teach entrepreneurs how to ideate, develop, maintain, and scale a brand.
I had seen this phenomenon before in my writing career. Writers, who would skip the editor and head straight to the publisher. Now, the publisher's job was to UNDERSTAND the themes and audience of the book in order to properly position and promote sales, however, the onus of CREATING a clear theme, sticking to that theme throughout the book and ensuring the correct audience is identified is on the writer.
Sure, the publisher can give tips here and there based on their experience, but they cannot create themes and advise on the content of the book...
Enter the editor.
It's the editor that works with the writer to help them ARTICULATE their theme and audience and ensures the messaging and content remain on target. It is the editor that challenges the writer to create remarkable characters. They find literary sticking points and conflicts the writer may miss.
MOST SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS HAVE NO EDITOR!
It was at this moment, I understood the best way for me to help entrepreneurs create sustained impact was to teach them how to develop and lead their own brands, by teaching them how to become more than just the creator, but also the editor.
Here is where the gap lies...
As business owners, you are the visionary of your brand. The writer of your own success story. I truly believe you have tremendous potential to grow your brand.
This is done by understanding how to curate the right offer for the right buyer in a scaleable way. My role is to stand in the gap to help you develop your brand identity and integrate it into the very fabric of your business.
My goal is to help you develop a brand identity of significance that is ready to be advertised and marketed to the right audience.
I know what it's like to be at a loss in business and also how real the stakes can be.
Telling you my entire story isn’t easy, but it’s my journey and it was the path I needed to take. It gave me a different perspective than other advertisers and gurus with fortune 100 clients. I know what it’s like for brands just getting started. I know the potential and also the obstacles. I know the feeling of spending your last $10k on a marketing plan that feels more like a crapshoot than a strategic formula.
I also know how different if looks and feels to do it right.
If you are ready to re-write your story and turn your business into a wild success, you've come to the right place!
Let's get started!