I’ve recently realized there are parts of your business that you need to be a downright dictator about. I’ll share three of them below. Let me point out that doing what I’m suggesting is way harder to accomplish than it is to simply share it. This is great for any business or brand who wants to get their message out to the masses and have people instantly know who they are and what they do.
Here at Infusionsoft we have an amazing culture. Our office is a place where all 140 of us come together every day to work together to achieve the same goal. We work hard. We play hard. Most of all, we’re extremely open and real with each other. With such a loving culture comes one major problem – we don’t like to say no. In my observation, this is not unique to us. Many entrepreneurs struggle with the same problem. It’s hard to say no to good ideas. It’s even harder to say no to great ideas. At a place like Infusionsoft, our employees come up with amazing ideas every day.
When you neglect to say no, bad things happen. Let’s discuss three distinct areas where you need to turn into a dictator and say no to EVERYTHING.
YOUR MARKETING MESSAGE
I’ve recently been working on distilling and refining our marketing message. In the process, I’ve realized that over the years we’ve crammed multiple concepts into our marketing and its now overwhelming to prospects. The key to a successful marketing message is to present one clear, concise message that’s easy for prospects to understand. When you fail to say no, the message becomes cluttered with many excellent ideas. The prospect loses and ultimately, you lose. This is one time where being a dictator is the right thing to do. Nail down the message and then say no to all the great ideas that come. For instance, soon you’ll soon see a shift in this direction in the Infusionsoft message.
Earlier this week, I had a brainstorming session with the Marketing & Communications teams here at Infusionsoft about our brand. I asked them to use words or phrases that describe our brand. We wrote all of them on a whiteboard. I was shocked at the results. The teams came up with a list of about 40 different adjectives and phrases that describe Infusionsoft. As I looked at them more closely, I realized that many of them contradicted other ones. They were all over the map. It was clear to me that we’ve allowed many great ideas to creep into what our brand represents. Again, to create a lasting brand that is recognizable to prospects and customers, and invokes loyalty, you need to put on the dictator hat. You need to define the brand in clean, simple terms, and then lock it down. If the brand is always shape shifting, your audience won’t be able to keep up and they’ll give up trying.
YOUR PRODUCT & SERVICE
What you sell should be sacred. Whether it’s a product you ship to your customers, software (like ours), or a service that you provide, your product is how you deliver on your marketing message and brand promise. If messaging and branding tend to flow with the wind, there’s a good chance your product is all over the place as well.
I see this often in the photography world (my dad is a photographer and I follow the industry closely). Here’s how it goes: A photographer goes into business and defines her particular niche, let’s say black & white baby photography. If she sticks to her guns and focuses on that niche, there’s a good chance she can become an expert in that area and people will come flocking to get baby photos with her. But, what usually happens is as soon as a slow month passes, she begins to take on work outside of her area of expertise. Someone requests wedding photos and she does it out of desperation. Someone else needs a family portrait. Pretty soon, she’s no longer an expert. She’s an average photographer that has no specialty.
Software products get feature creep. Retail stores start selling everything under the sun. If you want to be successful, stick on a fake mustache and let your inner dictator reign. Keeping your product or service offering consistent provides a smooth, dependable experience for your customers and allows you to build your leadership position in your area of focus.
I think saying no to great ideas is actually one of the hardest things to do in business. We entrepreneurs are dreamers and we hate to see dreams squashed. But saying no in certain areas allows your business to flourish.
I guess what I’m saying is it’s equally important (if not more so) to rationally reject good ideas as well as accept them. This helps my team and I strongly defend and communicate exactly what we do, why we do it and how we’re doing it. Take an honest, objective look at your brand and working backwards is very helpful and helps you define who you are and what you do so your audience understands it. Soon, we’re going to be tweaking our branding and messaging and when that happens, I’ll be happy to provide insight about it.