Marketing creates transactions. Identity creates lifelong relationships.
I have worked with the world’s best marketing minds. Folks who can create a sales pitch that can fulfill the proverbial promise of “selling ice to Eskimos.”
This is a hugely-valuable skill. It’s one of the only ways I know where people can become millionaires practically overnight, when they strike a nerve and suddenly money comes pouring in.
But it’s a double-edged sword.
Because as quick as you can create those transactions and make that money roll in, your world can crumble around you.
If your marketing is great but your deliverable sucks, you WILL end up worse off than you were before. What happens when you have a truckload of money, and the Eskimo have a truckload of ice — which they quickly realize they didn’t want and need?
Practically the worst thing that can happen, if you have a terrible product or service (even just terrible for the market you’re selling it to), is that you sell a lot of it really fast.
There are massive government organizations built specifically to go after businesses who find themselves in this very situation — who are tipped off by dissatisfied consumers who justifiably want to right the wrongs they’ve experienced.
I’m not saying marketing is wrong…
In fact, I’ve practically built my life and business for the last dozen years around the idea that marketing (and selling) is a highly-honorable skill, and should be practiced and perfected at the highest level.
You should get so good you can sell ice to Eskimos.
But you should also realize that selling ice to Eskimos is really bad business. That Eskimos probably would appreciate firewood a lot more (I really don’t know, but I’m going with it).
And that instead of building a business around selling ice, you can turn yourself into the guy or gal who brings warmth in the cold, and you can use that same selling ability to generate far more value and a much better lifetime relationship.
Marketing, as a skill, falls under the “Architecture of Skill” model I’ve written about before…
At the superficial level, you can get good at tactics. Specific wording in copy, color choice in design, and so on.
Underpinning that are the bigger techniques, that help you choose the tactics you’ll use.
Beneath technique are the strategies you’re applying. What to do when (while techniques and tactics tell you how to do it).
And as the foundation of it all, you operate on a set of principles that dictate the strategies and can have influence all the way down to the tactical level.
What if I told you there’s something even deeper — more powerful — and more consequential than even the skill, such as marketing, that you’re practicing?
In other words, what if there were a force more powerful than marketing?
Well, I already gave it away.
Who you are.
Just think: many people buy Apple because it’s Apple. Apple has an identity, and for those who resonate on that level, it makes any marketing principle, strategy, technique, or tactic secondary to the fact that Apple just released a new product. They buy Apple because it’s Apple.
Now, there’s a lot to this. And the implementation does carry down all the way through the Architecture of Skill, down to the tactical level. For example, there’s a reason Steve Jobs would give his keynotes standing on stage in front of a giant black screen with just the picture of the new product in the middle. There was a reason they’d use those keynotes as product launch events. Those were the strategy, techniques, and tactics that they used in the implementation of the Apple identity. And they’ve continued beyond Jobs, although admittedly Jobs was a big enough part of the Apple identity that his death took a (oh no, here comes the pun) big bite out of Apple. [Roy’s face flushes with embarrassment and shame for that one.]
So the question: is there a tactical way to create a core identity for your business?
There are entire tomes that have been composed on many aspects of this, but there is one core tactic that I believe allows to reach down to that identity level, and put it out there for all to see.
And when you get it right, it’s more powerful than marketing. Because identity shifts the entire architecture of persuasion. Such that when identity lines up, it trumps any implementation of marketing skill you lay out.
Someone who resonates with you on an identity level will stick with you through thick and thin. Once they align themselves with you, it will be almost impossible for a competitor to come in and separate them from their relationship with you.
The secret to creating a powerful identity? Core values…
Before I go deeper, this is NOT meant to be some namby pamby corporate motivational tool. We’re not talking mission statements, or slogans, or anything like that.
Rather, these are the values that reside behind everything you do, every product or service you create, every selling or customer service decision you make, every choice in hiring and firing…
The ideal situation happens when there’s total alignment around the core values — including the business leadership, its rank and file, and customers and clients.
When that happens, the business becomes an almost unstoppable force in its market.
Defining core values…
The secret to defining core values is to look at those within your business and ask…
— Who in our business conducts themselves in a way we’d like everyone else to copy?
— What are they doing when they are conducting themselves that way?
— What is the underlying reason for them behaving in that way?
When you get down to those underlying reasons — the deep motivations for your best performers’ best behavior — you have core values.
In a big team, this is a collaborative process, with these questions asked and answered across the board, the answers ranked, and the core values narrowed down until you have a fundamental list of the values that should drive your business.
If you’re building your business from scratch, this is something you should do early, and it can help guide you to build the business you want, not just the business that happens. (For example, if you have a clearly-defined set of core values, make them part of your hiring process, so you only hire people who resonate with and are motivated to implement those values in their daily work.)
Here are my core values…
Earlier today, I launched my new BTMSinsiders service.
And because I have a big vision for that and plan to create a much more scalable business beyond freelance copywriting (and no, I’m not retiring from copywriting, yet…), I knew part of getting it right would be defining my core values.
After much refining, here they are:
— The Golden Rule: We treat others the best way we want to be treated.
— Multiplier: We constantly create a bigger future for everyone we come into contact with.
— Value-First: We deliver 10X more value than we ever expect in return.
— 5-Star Preeminence: We strive to be the best, most beneficial option in our category, creating a “wow” experience that’s clearly head and shoulders above the rest.
— Kaizen: We practice continuous incremental improvement in all impact areas.
— Fail fast, learn fast: We embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and improve, so we test things that may fail with enthusiasm and speed.
— Better together: When the team wins, we all win.
— Integral: We help each other be fuller humans by supporting physical, mental, spiritual, social, and systemic health.
— Long-view: We act in ways to foster 12-year or 12-decade relationships, not 12-minute, 12-day, 12-week, or even 12-month profits.
— Call the dead moose: When we see an issue, big or small, we name it and address it quickly and completely.
I’ve been formally developing these for a good six months. But they’re an extension of a lifetime of working on myself, paying attention to when I’m at my best, both in terms of my external success and my internal self satisfaction.
An example of how to use Core Values…
Here’s a great example, before I wrap up this essay.
In launching BTMSinsiders, I wanted to be able to share the Story Selling Master Class content, which others had paid $500 to get access to less than a year ago.
The challenge: how to charge just $37 for access to a $500 training package AND keep people who’d paid $500 happy?
My first core value above is The Golden Rule. Specifically, I adapted it to “We treat others the best way we want to be treated.”
So I asked: If our roles were reversed, what would make me actually feel good about this situation?
What I came to was that I’d give my original Story Selling Master Class participants a deal that would lead to even more in savings than they’d paid for the program in the first place. And they’d get access to all the additional content.
I wrote them a note explaining myself, with this offer. I told them EXACTLY what I was doing, and why. And gave them the first opportunity to grab a BTMSinsiders All-Access Pass.
I could have done this differently on a million different levels. And I probably could’ve gotten more short-term revenue out of them, as recent buyers are often the ones willing to spend the most money with you in the short term.
But by using my core values and specifically The Golden Rule as a guiding principle, I had absolute certainty that this was the best course of action.
This decision, isolated, will have a very small impact on my business. But by applying the core values to the 10,000 little decisions that go into the business over the next year, I’ll be establishing an identity for BTMSinsiders that’s incredibly attractive to the people I want to be surrounded with, and creating the exact business that I want to be running.
(Done right, with a fitting business model, this will also create a snowball effect as I find more and more really cool people who resonate with what I’m doing at BTMSinsiders on an identity level.)
If you resonate with this essay and with everything else you’re getting in Breakthrough Marketing Secrets, and you’re ready to create even more breakthroughs, check out BTMSinsiders for the next 30 days. If the training you get doesn’t blow you away, let me know and I’ll ensure a prompt and courteous refund. Click here to grab your All-Access Pass.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,