I was just listening to the hit song “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips and it made me smile. As I thought about why the song made me happy, I realized that it was not just about the passion and joy that Phillip Phillips brings to his music. I was also smiling because I admire Phillip Phillips as an artist and an individual.
For those of you who may not know Phillip Phillips, he was the winner of the 11th season of American Idol. And whether you like the show or not, American Idol is pretty cool because it provides not only a venue for young artists to be seen and heard, it also provides mentoring and advice from top people in the music industry.
Over the years, I have seen many promising singers on the show who have floundered as they bounced back and forth between the different bits of advice that at times can be conflicting. For example, an artist who has been advised to be more upbeat selects a pop song instead of the sad, country ballads she usually sings. Only to be ranked near the bottom and be told that she selected a song that was not appropriate.
What made Phillip Phillips different is that from the start of the show, he was very clear on who he was as an artist. He had a specific sound that was his own and he never varied from it regardless of the comments that he received. He did, however, switch up the different genres of music that he performed and make other changes that added to his powerful professionalism on the stage. In other words, he was so clear on who he is (his brand), that he was able to selectively apply the advice he was receiving to become a stronger brand.
Small business owners face many of the same challenges that American Idol contestants face. They are in a competition to win the sale and are so eager to come out ahead that they take all the advice they receive and randomly apply it to their business. After all, the advice came from an expert or from someone more advanced so it must be good, right?
The first step should not be to change for change’s sake. Instead, start by becoming very clear on your company’s brand and what it believes in and stands for. Then and only then are you ready to start listening to advice from well-meaning friends, family, and experts.
The next step is to gather all of the advice and filter it through the company brand. If you have an overall business strategy, and you should, you would also compare it to your current goals. If the advice will strengthen your brand and help you to achieve your strategic goals, then you should follow it.
If not, regardless of how smart the person is who provided it or what their relation is to you, you must slow down and do one of two things:
- Modify it so it fits your brand and strategic goals
- Just say no!
What makes a brand strong and memorable so that it attracts your ideal clients is consistent application. In other words, everything you say, do, or show about your company will either strengthen the brand or weaken it. There is no in-between. Customers are either saying, “I would expect that of ABC Company because that is who they are,” or they are wondering why you did that. And if they are wondering, that is bad because a confused customer is much less likely to buy and buy repeatedly.
So, before your brand is gone, gone, gone be like Phillip Phillips and become strikingly clear on what your brand is and what it represents. Then make sure that you and everyone who represents your company apply it consistently, every day in every way. This is the way to come out on the top and be a hit with your ideal clients or customers.