Marketing Talent Inc

How Strategy Can Help Start Ups To Start Right

Entrepreneurs are a different breed

They have an energy, that has them running full blast with no time to spare.  They have a determination to push as hard as they can to find funding, patents, production and customers.  They are willing to do what it takes and will work to nail down every possible detail on their own.  It’s exhaustive.  And yet, until they sell something they have no revenue to cover all their effort and costs.  All they have is optimism and hope.

I run my own business.  Every day I face the same issues you face.

Entrepreneurs face a ton of pressure.  Every friend I meet up with that asks about “starting my own business”, I explain what it’s like, I pause and look them right in the eye and say “it’s not for everyone”.  I don’t say that to discourage them, but rather allow them to keep thinking.  I mean seriously:  a real entrepreneur would just snicker at that comment.

The biggest obstacle is dealing with the pressure.

How you handle that pressure helps to sort out whether you’ll be successful or not.  You have to stay focused on the vision you have for your business.   While there are “revenue temptations”, once you deviate off your path it’s harder to get back on that path.  Stay focused.


It’s the Idea that counts

It seems to me that most entrepreneurs love watching the “Shark Tank” or “Dragon’s Den”.  While it’s reality TV, it’s good entertainment.  It provides one great lesson.  The winners have an IDEA, beyond just a product.  Yes, the product is essential, but if you don’t know who you are, what you can do, who you can serve and how you can serve them, then you will fail.

When I started my business, one of my mentors said “what are you selling” and my answer was “I’m selling me”. His answer floored me when he said “well then I’m not buying, because I don’t know you and I only buy ideas”.  Three weeks later, I came back with the idea of Beloved Brands, and how I would help leaders find more love for their brand, because I can clearly lay out the path from how loved a brand is to how powerful it is and from that power it can make more money.  A simple equation:  Love = Power = Profit.   While no one wants to buy Graham Robertson, every business leader wants a pathway to making more money.

Most successful brands in history started off as a product that solves a rational problem in the consumers’ life.  It’s very likely that the entrepreneur sold the product directly to customers.  Over time, they created a logo, narrowed down on a promise based on what was working, they executed better than the competition and gravitated towards creating some type of experience.  After a while, the consumer took all this marketing stuff and determined the Idea of the brand.  The second generation of the entrepreneur had to do market research to figure out what came naturally to the entrepreneur.  And when they figured it out, they realized as the brand become more loved along the way, the brand become an idea that fulfills consumers’ emotional needs.


To me, a beloved brand is an idea that’s worth Loving.  As a brand generates more love, it gains a positional power versus market forces.  It can leverage that power to drive higher rates of growth and higher profits.

But that’s the history of brands.  So why not learn from history, and instead of slowly evolving towards an idea, why not just start there and own the evolution, and matching up that logo, promise, execution and experience to the idea.

Get to the idea faster.  And you’ll be able to sell that idea with your product.  So, what’s your idea?


Be Strategic

Strategic Thinkers see “what if” questions before they see solutions.  They map out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out.  They reflect and plan before they act.   They are thinkers and planners who can see connections.  Non Strategic Thinkers see answers before questions.   They get to answers quickly, and will get frustrated in delays. They opt for action over thinking, believing that doing something is better than doing nothing. They are impulsive and doers who see tasks.  They can be frustrated by strategic thinkers.

My challenge to all entrepreneurs is while it’s tempting to push hard, you have to stay strategic.  Don’t get into the situation where your feet are moving faster than your brain.


Start Up the Right Way

When you decide to go out on your own, you might be starting with some random product you came up with.  But now you need a vision of where you want to go.  As Yogi Berra said “if you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there”.

Why are you doing this?  Push yourself to start with what’s in you:  The most successful brands start with a purpose driven vision (why) and match the strategies (how) and the execution (what) to the vision.

What does success look like?  Think of your Vision as an end in mind Achievement towards your purpose.  What do you want the brand to become?  Think 10 years out: if you became this one thing, you would know that you are successful.  Ideally it is Qualitative (yet grounded in something) and quantitative (measurable)  It should be motivating and enticing to get people focused.   It should be personal and speak to why you get up in the morning—why you got into this business.

I always like to say “if you woke up on January 1st, 2020 and things on your brand were going well, tell me the 3-5 things that you’d quickly point to as part of that success”.   It’s a big huge goal.


Focus! Focus! Focus! Focus!

Yes, I’m empathetic to the entrepreneur who is facing zero revenues and sees that “revenue temptation” in front of them.  It’s ok to go for it, but quickly get back on track.  Think of it like a quick detour or hobby.  But you have to stay focused.

A good entrepreneur knows who they are selling to, what they are selling, how to sell it and what activities are the best choices. And they don’t deviate.

There are four areas you need to focus:

  • Pick a focused Target Market:  While it’s tempting to sell to everyone.  Focus your resources on those most likely to buy. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you.
  • Pick a focused Brand Positioning:  Start with the target market you just picked, and assess their need states to see where you can best match up. Beloved Brands are either better, different or cheaper. Or they are not around for much longer.
  • Pick a Focused Strategy:  Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies.  Evaluate the health of your brand using the Brand Funnel to understand where you are strong and should keep pushing or where you have a weakness (a Leak) that you need to close.
  • Focused Activities:  While everyone talks ROI, I talk ROE as well.  Return on Effort forces you to prioritize all your activities.

Stay aligned to your plan, and don’t be tempted away from your focus.  When you focus, five things happen.

  1. Better ROI:   With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll be find out if the strategy you’ve chose is able to actually move consumers drive sales or other key performance indicators.
  2. Better ROE:  Make the most out of your people resources.
  3. Strong Reputation:  When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally.  And, eventually you become very good at that one thing.
  4. More Competitive:  As your reputation grows, you begin to own that on thing and your are able to better defend the positioning territory
  5. Bigger and Better P&L:  As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits.  And that means more resources will be put to the effort to drive even higher growth.

photo credit: Zach Dischner via photopin cc


Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do. I have walked a mile in your shoes. My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. I’m now a marketing consultant helping brands find their love and find growth for their brands.

Website: | Twitter: @grayrobertson1


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