What are You Doing this Fall?
Here’s an Idea: Pumpkin Spice and How to De-clutter Your Brand
It’s beginning to get a little chilly. The leaves are transitioning to fiery hues. You’re finding pumpkin-spice everything and everywhere. I am, anyway. Seriously, did you know pumpkin spice deodorant is now available? This is a trend that has unquestionably jumped the shark.
This time of the year is usually dedicated to finishing strong in the last quarter AND planning for next year. It’s the season for harvest. You can reap what you’ve sown and take time to sort through what your work has yielded over time. Yay!
I’m proposing a new and different Fall activity that will help you with both AND strengthen your brand.
You’ve heard of Spring cleaning. Let’s talk about Fall brand harvesting.
What is a Fall brand harvest? It’s an opportunity to take stock of your products, services and content, and get rid of anything that’s not related to your core business and brand uniqueness.
How does a business accumulate so much stuff?
It starts with good intentions. You want to serve your customers and deliver exactly what they need. During the year, or over a period of years, you’ve probably created products and services to meet a customer demand. You may have started with a selection of three offers. You met with a client who said, “That sounds great. It would be even better if this product/service included x, y and z.” So you incorporated those features or services to your offer and then gave it a new name. This scenario may have played out with dozens of clients over time.
Now, you have a website with landing pages and links filled with copy about these offerings you’ve long forgotten about, or filing cabinets full of marketing material for each one. You may have brochures that have matrices filled with the different option for customers to choose from. It has countless levels and categories with titles like 14K Gold, Silver, 24K Gold, Bronze, Platinum, Titanium, Platinum Plus…you get the idea.
Chances are if you’re confused by all of this information, customers and prospects are 100 times more confused. They may look at all your content and wonder, “Which is best for me?” “How do I choose one?” “This is way too complicated.” “I think I need to go somewhere else.”
Why do it?
All your best intentions to add features, and serve and dazzle your customers, might be turning them away. The confusion about what you do might be diluting your brand. If you offer 800 different things, your brand can become unclear. Remember, strong brands are known for one or two unique things, and can be summarized in a phrase. If your brand can’t be summarized succinctly, it might be diluted and no longer top-of-mind or even relevant.
If you’re not sure where to start with clarifying your brand, revisiting your business model and product portfolio can get the ball rolling. Your brand and business model are not separate entities. They’re intertwined. Your brand is the DNA that is expressed in everything in your business, including your products and services. Cleaning one up can help sharpen the other. Refocusing your business will help uncover brand clarity– you want to be known for a few things, not a few hundred.
A Fall harvest is an opportunity to rein in your content. You have bushels of content, marketing collateral and offers. You probably have a lot of “stuff” floating around on the interwebs –- broken links, services you no longer provide or other outdated information. You might have missed opportunities to connect with clients because of broken links, or you’ve turned someone away because the information was no longer pertinent to them. Rake up all the scattered leaves of content into piles you can review and organize.
Once you’ve gathered all of the information, you can begin to analyze it. Look hard at your offerings. It’s likely your products and services adhere to the “Pareto Principle” or the 80/20 rule, in which 20 percent of your offerings generate 80 percent of your revenue. All the other things that you’ve created on-the-fly were one-offs that aren’t producing.
Identify your core offerings, market those, and keep the others on a shelf in case you do need to share an expanded service with a client. Do NOT publish them, though. Too much clutter takes you back to the land of brand confusion where overwhelm and lost customers rule. Trust that you know your process and how to best serve your clients.
Remember to put yourself in this equation: which of your products or services do you most like creating or delivering? Which ones are the most fun for you to work on? Which ones have the best results for your clients and for you?
This exercise works for businesses of all sizes. I’ve helped organizational clients and my 1:1 coaching clients with Fall brand harvesting. It works best if you have been in business for a few years and you’ve created many different products and services that you can prune.
You can use methods that have worked for you in the past when undertaking re-organizing or housekeeping projects. The basic steps are:
1. Take inventory
I like to use my visual facilitation tools for this. I use a giant piece of paper to list everything. Then, put the names of products on Post-It™ notes so we can move them into categories. Next, we open the accounting books and look at which services have been most successful and we use that data to help organize and prioritize the offers. When we have everything on the chart, we see the business model AND we can dig into the uniqueness of the products themselves to help give the brand a tune-up, too. Ah, clearing things out is so satisfying.
You can spend a few hours, a couple of days or spread this work over a number weeks if you need to. It may sound like a lot of work, but the benefits of a clear business model and brand are worth the investment of time.