The Secret to Building a Brand Today

You are here:
Module 1: How to Position Your Brand to Sell
Section 1: How to Differentiate Your Brand
Post 4: The Secret to Building a Brand Today

Let’s review quickly – we’ve talked about you and your business. We’ve looked at your customers and competitors. Now you’re ready to learn the secret to branding today:


HIPOD is an acronym for High Impact Point of Differentiation.

Your brand will breakthrough much faster once you fully understand this concept. Today’s hyper-busy world rewards it!

We talked about a castle with a moat in the last post. If you remember, we said the width of the moat is based on your relationships with customers. Its depth is determined by your competitive advantages.

You accomplish both with HIPODs. So let’s talk about how you go about discovering them. We’ll start with benefits.

Most business owners sell the wrong thing

Most business owners sell the wrong thing. Sell the wrong thing and you’ll sell nothing!

Well, you may still sell something – as long as your competition sells the wrong thing too. But as soon as anyone realizes they’re selling the wrong thing (the first step is admitting it) and then corrects it, look out!

The market will change. Customers will vote with their dollars. They’ll go to the firm selling the right thing.

What’s the right thing? Benefits. What’s the wrong thing? Features.

Let’s think about a really simple example. It’s a product which you use every day: toothpaste.

You’ll often see “fluoride” on the packaging. But people don’t buy fluoride. They buy a beautiful smile.

They don’t buy the mint-flavoring. They buy a kissable mouth!

They don’t buy features. They buy benefits!

People don’t buy toothpaste. They buy what it does for them.

The same is true of your product or service. So it’s up to you to figure out what you really sell. We’ll talk more about this in the next section on Messaging.

For now, let’s prepare for that by diving deeper into benefits.

(NOTE: You’ll see the questions we ask throughout the rest of this post in Part 4 of the Differentiate Your Brand Guidebook.)

3 ways to rise above your competition

  • Functional benefits

Back in the day, the secret to success was to “build a better mousetrap.” The quality of your product alone could make you stand out.

But unless you have patent protection, your success may be short-lived.

Competitors are perfectly happy letting you improve the product. They’ll watch to see if it sells. If it does, they’ll respond quickly to close the gap.

Besides that, the best product doesn’t always win. Sometimes, customers don’t want the best. They often want the simplest. A few want the cheapest.

The key is to know your customers. What do they want and need? The better you know them, the more likely you are to give them exactly what they want from your products and/or services.

  • Experiential benefits

So differentiating by functionality can be quite difficult, especially if you’re not rich with resources. Plus, we live in a service economy – the space where most business owners and entrepreneurs thrive.

So think about the experience you can deliver. It’s still a great way to differentiate these days.

The key is to BOTH deliver AND make sure the customer knows!

This is a critical mistake we see so often business owners make. It’s understandable – you may feel that calling it to your customer’s attention is like “tooting your own horn.” You may think it’s expected so it’s “no big deal.”

But if your customer doesn’t know you’re doing it, you’ve wasted an opportunity to build your brand. Sure, you’re taking care of them and that’s important. But it’s equally crucial that they know you’re doing it!

[George] I learned this lesson the hard way. I owned a heating-and-cooling service company. We had a customer who called to cancel her service agreement, which called for preventive maintenance of her furnace and air-conditioning system. She said she didn’t need it – her equipment never broke down! My employee said, “That’s our goal!” Her service agreement was saving her lots of money. I’m happy to say she kept it.

This raises another important point about the experience – reinforce the buy decision every chance you get. Which reminds us…

Aren’t you glad you’re in this program? (We just couldn’t resist! :)) But seriously, most people never invest in themselves. You do. So we know you’re going to win. You’re going to build a brand that sells!

[George] Our customer knew we were servicing her equipment. But we failed to remind her why she was doing it, how wise she was and how much she was saving in money and inconvenience.

So think about how you can stand out from your competitors by giving your customers an experience they don’t forget.

Even better, what can you do to make the experience remarkable – in a good way? Figure that out and your customers will naturally spread the word!

  • Relational benefits

A little history – at one time, functional benefits were the only factor which business owners considered. As it became more difficult to sustain a competitive advantage, experiential benefits rose to the surface.

As we said in the last post, we’re taking a huge forward leap backward. Social media is making a huge impact on the buying process. Now…

Differentiating in the relationship is an area ripe with opportunity!

Nine out of ten people say the #1 influencer of their buying decision is a recommendation from a friend. You create incredible leverage every time a customer becomes your ambassador.

Some of this comes from the experience. But in today’s communication-rich world, it pays to specifically look at how you can build relationships with customers to rise above the competition.

You do this by getting to know them better, without thinking about when they will place their next order. So you forge a relationship beyond provider-customer.

You do it by thinking about all of the challenges they face, not just the ones where you make money. If you can share a resource, great! You’ll do it willingly.

We’ll revisit relational benefits again and again throughout the rest of this program.

As you think about benefits for your customer, it’s important to realize an important change.

You used to build a brand on one compelling benefit. That was then.

This is now: Supercharge your brand by offering a bundle of benefits which make a significant impact with your customers.

What benefits are most important to your ideal customers? Look at each of the areas – functional, experiential and relational. Consider which benefits you can deliver uniquely well.

5 stages of customer connection

So benefits are one part of discovering your HIPODs. The second part is touchpoints.

Touchpoints are places of interaction. They’re “locations” where you meet the customer or the customer meets you.

A significant change has taken place, thanks to the social web. Research shows that…

Four out five of your customers will find you before you find them!

That’s why you need a brand that sells. Customers are generally further along in the process when they contact you.

They’ve already made some decisions. They’ve shopped the competition. They’ve already filtered firms out. They’ve gathered information. They’ve look at reviews. They’ve read blogs. They’ve checked with their friends. They’ve gone as far as they can without talking to a human being. Then finally, they contact you…if you’re lucky.

As you can see – not only will most of your customers find you before you find them, they also will avoid talking with you as long as possible. They’ll come to you later rather than sooner, like they used to.

Unless you’re smart enough to have a brand that sells. (And look – here you are!)

A brand like this sells for you in the early stages. It brings you more prospects. But not just any prospects – these are highly-qualified leads, because they match your customer persona.

But to make that all of this happen, you have to understand touchpoints. You do that by thinking about the journey from the point of no awareness to being an engaged customer.

The two of us decided to take a vacation.

[George] I asked Mary-Lynn where she wanted to go.

[Mary-Lynn] I said I wanted to go somewhere warm, with BIGG water. But I didn’t want to get on a plane.

It was mid-March when we had this conversation. We planned to go in early April. We live a couple hours south of Chicago. So a sunny beach is a long way away at that time of year!

We can’t remember what had happened, but there had been an issue on a plane. So airport security was going to be tighter than ever, which means even longer lines than usual. We just didn’t want the hassle.

So we looked at the map and decided on Panama City Beach.

On our previous vacation, we were supposed to have an ocean-front room. But they didn’t deliver.

So as we scoped out places to stay, we made sure the water would be front-and-center to our room.

We found a place with a website that sold us. (We’ll talk about this in Module 2.) Finally, we made a phone call. We asked a few questions. We booked our room.

We showed up on the appointed day. We got exactly what we wanted. It was a great trip!

Our trip is like your customer’s journey. We started out not knowing where we wanted to go. We just knew what we wanted out of it (warmth, water). We also knew what we didn’t want (no plane).

When the search starts, it’s broad. We could have decided on just about anywhere on the Gulf Coast of the U.S. or even Florida’s Atlantic side. Heck, we’ve could have gone all the way to Key West!

But we settled on Panama City Beach. Why? Well, a friend of ours recommended it. And it was the closest place which could give us what we wanted (least pain to get the desired benefits).

We’d had a bad experience with a travel company. It worked to the advantage of the place we stayed. They had photos which showed the view from their rooms. So we knew we would be right on the water.

If you understand the bad experiences your customers have had in the past (not from you, of course), you can make sure you speak to them.

So up to this point, we still hadn’t talked to anyone from the resort. We made one phone call. We had a few simple questions. But we were ready to book. And we did.

Now, your sales cycle may be a little longer than that. It doesn’t matter. The key is to map out your customer’s journey. If all goes well, it looks something like this…

The Buyer's Journey

Note the lines aren’t straight. Some are more squiggly than others. We did this to emphasize that buyers don’t usually take the direct path. It would be nice if it worked that way, but it doesn’t.

Let’s look deeper into the five stages of customer connection:

  • Aware

People are busy. They’re distracted.

They don’t know about you. And they probably don’t care. It’s not personal. It’s just the way it is.

Until they need you. Or they want a benefit which you’re uniquely capable of delivering. Then they will actively search for you.

But you’ll rise above your competition if you don’t wait until then. You can create initiatives to reach them now. Then you’ll be the one they think about when they’re ready to buy.

So think about the initial touchpoints with your customers. Where will they occur? How will they find out about you? How can you help them at that point?

  • Interested

So a potential customer is now aware of you. Now is your time to shine!

If you do it well, they’ll become more interested. So think about your early conversations with customers.

Most of the time, these conversations won’t take place in the real world. They’ll be digital in some way, shape or form.

It’s at this point where we see a lot of business owners make a costly mistake – especially those with a sales background. They think interest is raised from face-to-face meetings.

It can be. But it’s a tremendous drain on resources, most specifically time. Plus, it’s not where most buyers are today. Remember – four out of five future customers will find you before you find them.

So just hope all your competitors think like the business owners we’re describing here. You’ll snap up customers way before they ever find them.

Sure, they’ll get a new one here and there. But you’ll attract many more!

How? By helping them where they are!

Step outside your role and think about the people you serve. What are they thinking at this point? What do they need to know?

More importantly, what are they feeling? What benefits do they want? What would help move along?

But also think about what can derail a buyer. What might cause them to lose interest? How can you build trust?

What are the touchpoints at this stage? Think about where they occur and how important they are to total customer satisfaction.

  • Persuaded

You’ve done your job well. You have a person jumping up and down ready to do business with you.

What happens next? How do you move them from “persuaded” to “sold?”
What could give them pause? How can you prevent it?

  • Sold

You got what you wanted – a sale! It’s a wonderful thing.

But many business owners (and they have plenty of company in the business world) think this is the end goal.

You won’t make that mistake. Because you know (or soon will), there’s still a tremendous amount of opportunity.

“Sold” means you have a customer using your product or service. This is the real test!

What promises have you made? How do you deliver them?

Think about a first-time user. What do they need to know? How can you make it simpler, easier, more comfortable, etc.?

What might cause them to be unhappy? What might cause surprise? Confusion? Contempt?

It pays to think about all these things in advance. They’re the potential touchpoints. Get these right and the best is yet to come…

  • Thrilled

Many business owners don’t fully grasp an important concept: It’s better to be consistently mediocre, than occasionally excellent.

We’ll talk about this more in the last section of this Module. But for now, think about how you can deliver a consistent experience. Then you can consider how to improve so you make the biggest impact.

How can you tell if a customer is thrilled? Ask them!

Survey your customers (or a random sampling of them if your transactions are frequent and small). Consider giving them some reward for participating – it could be as simple as a discount on their next purchase or a drawing for a gift certificate. Ask them:

How satisfied were you with your most recent experience with us?
(please circle one)

1-Very unsatisfied
3-No opinion
5-Very Satisfied

Obviously, you would hope for a rating of “5” from everyone. These are your “thrilled” customers.

But what’s the second best answer?


That’s right – it’s better to get a 1 than a 2, 3 or 4.

As Ken Blanchard taught us in Raving Fans, you can turn a 1 into a 5 faster than the others. In other words…

It’s much easier to take a person from “enraged” to “engaged” than it is to turn someone from “apathetic” to “ambassador.”

This is such an important point to understand, let’s belabor it just a little. You see…

1s are mad enough to tell you!

The 2s, 3s and 4s won’t. Sure, they may do business with you again because it’s too much trouble to switch.

But don’t fool yourself – they consider alternatives almost every time they buy. At some point, one of your competitors will hit their hot button.

And they’ll be gone. They also won’t talk about your business – at least not in a good way.

Since you can make a bigger impact with a 1, think about how you respond to them. It’s an important touchpoint.

What didn’t they like? How can you remedy it proactively, so future customers don’t experience it?

Also think about your 5s. What thrilled them? Do you have a system to replicate the experience over and over, so you can thrill future customers?

And what would thrill them even more? Your 5s will help you improve. You just have to ask!

By focusing on thrilling your 5s even more, you’ll pull up the others. That’s great, but it’s not the real reason to do it.

The real reason is that your 5s will engage. They will tell others. They will build your business. All you have to do is keep thrilling them!

So think about every touchpoint in your customer’s journey. What are they thinking and feeling? What obstacles do they see? What questions do they have?

Are there related decisions? What are they?

For example, people with kids may place a high priority on the school system. If you’re a realtor, it’s part of the buying decision.

You can move them along by helping them find the right school, not just the right home!

This goes beyond show and tell if you want to thrill them. It means providing resources and opening up your network so they feel confident in their decisions.

You know the path to purchase isn’t a straight line. But you can make it straighter by thinking about your touchpoints.

In just a moment, you can thrill a customer

So we’ve talked about benefits and touchpoints. Now it’s time to put them together to find your HIPODs.

We’re looking for moments. You can win a customer over in just a moment.

You can also lose them. Research shows two out of three customers leave because of a single moment.

So out of all of your touchpoints, we’re looking for a few vital moments.

Many business owners try to be good at everything. But you won’t thrill customers that way. You won’t be remarkable.

So you’ll have to spend more money on marketing to gain more customers who aren’t happy with you. Fortunately, there’s a better way…

Focus on the unique benefits you can deliver
in the few most vital moments of the buyer’s journey.

How can you exceed your customer’s expectations at the most critical times? This is the question we’ve been leading up to.

We’ve helped you think about the whole journey so you didn’t accidentally leave anything out. But now, we want you to…

Filter out all the points where you only need to be good,
so you can focus on the few moments where you need to be great!

That’s a HIPOD – a vital moment where you can showcase benefits your competition can’t touch!

Find those and you’ll have a wide and deep moat!

Sample HIPOD

Let’s say you’re a builder. What’s a vital moment for a builder? Picture this:

Sam and Sally bought a new home a few months ago. It took them a couple of month to get settled. Then they invited a bunch of their friends over for a cookout.

Their friends arrived one by one. The hosts took turns giving their friends a tour. They commented about the shower in the master bath, the view, the large patio. What a great place!

People mingled. The tours continued. Everybody raved about the house. Finally, dinner is ready and they all sit down to eat.

Another couple brought up their new home buying experience. They moved into their new house at about the same time as Sam and Sally.

The wife started, “We love our house, but we’re not happy with our builder.”

The husband piped in, “Yeah, he won’t return our phone calls. We have a few things which should be fixed, but we can’t get in touch with him. He seems to be avoiding us. Have you had that problem?”

“Oh no,” Sally replied, “I guess we’re lucky…but our experience couldn’t be more different. Our builder set up an appointment with us when we closed. He said a home is a complex system. There are always some little things which need some attention. So he told us to make a list and then we’d go over it when we met.”

Sam added, “He came at the time we scheduled. We discussed our list. He took a look at everything on it. He made some notes and called his office. We scheduled the follow-up right then and there. The crews arrived as promised and fixed everything. We couldn’t be happier.”

If you were at this cookout, and you were considering having a new home built – which builder would you want? Would you call anyone else?

Many people probably wouldn’t.

This is probably the biggest complaint customers have about their builders – after the sale, when they’re using the product – but still early.

We like this example because builders aren’t likely to get customers who buy from them every year. But you can see quickly how they can get new customers from a customer who just bought.

People show off their houses. They talk about their builder – good or bad.

The builders don’t hear these conversations. But rest assured, they do take place. And business is won or lost because of them.

So Sam and Sally found a hero. Their builder created a system to follow up and follow through at a vital moment.

It sounds easy, but most builders won’t do it. They see it as a cost.

But it’s actually one of the most significant opportunities a builder has to make an impact. It pays BIGG dividends!

Where in the buyer’s journey can you make the biggest impact?

Next Step

Congratulations! You’ve completed the reading for Module 1. Here’s what to do to complete it:

  • Go to the Differentiate Your Brand Guidebook. Complete Part 4 (if you’ve been doing each part as you go) or Parts 1 – 4 (if you read straight through).
  • Then you’ll be ready to move on to Section 2 of this first module – How to Create Messages That Sell.

Of course – if you have any questions in the meantime, send them to us at with “BTS QUESTION” in the subject line.

Your Business is Like a Castle with a Moat (and a Skyway)

You are here:
Module 1: How to Position Your Brand to Sell
Section 1: How to Differentiate Your Brand
Post 3: Your Business is Like a Castle with a Moat (and a Skyway)

We met with an enthusiastic team of future entrepreneurs. After much research, they had an interesting idea for a business. They wondered what we thought about it.

We asked a simple question, “Who’s your competition?”

One of them leaned forward in his chair and proudly proclaimed, “That’s the best part – we don’t have any!”

It’s a true story. Only it’s not one team of future entrepreneurs. We’ve heard it again and again.

If you ever find yourself thinking you have no competition, think again.

In fact – if you don’t see any competition, it’s probably a sign of danger.

Someone has tried your idea before and didn’t make it. You need to really be sure the market has changed before proceeding.

So competition means there’s a market with money. That’s good! You’re ready to build your castle with a moat, a skyway and a tunnel. Let’s look at each of them.

Your castle is your stronghold

Back in the day when castles were castles, lords and nobles built them as “private fortified residences.” They created them to control the territory around them.

Think of your business as a castle. You want a stronghold so you can defend yourself against enemy attacks (i.e. your competitors).

It also serves as a base from which to launch efforts to reach the people in the territories around you (i.e. other niches).

Your brand is the foundation of your castle. The walls are built on your unique strengths.

You have a tall tower, so you can see out over the landscape. This represents your vision, which we’ll talk about before we wrap up this Module.

Your castle is where your community resides. You take care of your customers here – watching out for them, protecting them, and serving them.

You do it for your own reasons. That’s your mission, another subject we’ll visit later in this Module.

Of course, your customers can come and go as they please. But why should they leave when you take such good care of them?

Your moat keeps outsiders at a distance

Your castle has a moat surrounding it. You only lower the drawbridge when you want, for who you want. So “outsiders” are kept at bay.

Outsiders include your competitors. While your castle protects your community, your moat keeps your competitors even further away.

The width of your moat is determined by your relationships with your customers – the stronger your relationships are, the wider it will be.

Its depth is based on your competitive advantages – the greater they are, the deeper the moat will be.

The wider and deeper it is, the more you can charge for your products and services. We call this a “reputational premium.”

[George] I had never heard that phrase before. But one of my customers used it to describe one of my former businesses. Ironically, it came as part of a complaint – one which I’m happy to say we quickly resolved. The customer was even more convinced. She became one of our best salespeople – and she did it for FREE!

Many business owners fail because they don’t charge enough. Others get by on a meager living. But it doesn’t have to be that way…

You can build an extraordinary life by building a business with a reputation for excellence! That’s branding! That’s why you’re here.

We’ll talk more about building a moat in the next post. For now, we want to get to know your competitors better.

(NOTE: The rest of this post is a preview of what you’ll look at in Part 3 of the Differentiate Your Brand Guidebook. So just focus on absorbing the material here.)

Think about your top competitors (3 – 5 should suffice). What they do well? (If your answer is “Nothing” – you’re either not being honest or they shouldn’t be on your list!). Jot down their strengths as they come to mind.

Now flip the question. What don’t they do so well? Write down your answers as you think of each competitor’s weaknesses.

Resist the urge to think of your strengths to find their weakness. Just focus on them. By doing it this way, you may find an opportunity you would have missed otherwise.

Skyways enlarge your community

A skyway with a castle? That doesn’t make sense. Yet, in a funny way it does.

You see, we’re at a unique time in human history. We’re time traveling – simultaneously taking a leap backward and forward in time. It’s all thanks to the social web.

We’re going back in time to a day before broadcast communications. Back then, people did business with people they knew.

They didn’t hear an ad on the radio or see one on TV, because neither one existed! So they relied on relationships and referrals to grow their business.

But now we have new tools, thanks to the social web. And we have new ways of serving people. So mindsets are changing.

Business owners are an independent bunch. That’s one of the reasons they do what they do!

But there’s a better model today: interdependence.

For example, some of your competitors may not actually be in competition with you. They may be your greatest ally!

You may accomplish more working together than either of you could do on your own! It’s been dubbed “coopetition.”

So you have your castle. And you have a “friendly competitor” who has built one next door.

You each have your own place. How can you make more money by working together?

Build a skyway between your two castles!

Then your community and their community can go back and forth. You both instantly gain access to people you weren’t serving before!

And you can have more than one skyway!

Build as many as you can because this is one of the best ways to grow your business quickly. Even better, it requires very little investment on your part. We’ll revisit this subject in Module 3 when we talk about promoting your brand.

Build tunnels for smoother operations

We almost left this out but decided we should share it with you. It’s an extension of the “coopetition” idea.

The skyway is about the front-end of your business. Customers see it. Tunnels are about the back-end. Customers may not need to see them.

You may be able to share resources or functions with a competitor and both save money. In fact, there’s a thriving industry which does this for you these days – shared office space.

Landlords give you access to a copier and other equipment. You share a receptionist as well as conference rooms with your fellow tenants. It’s a win for everyone!

Look for ways you do more with less money by not going it alone!

Next Step

You have a choice to make: You can go on to the next post or go through Part 3 of the Differentiate Your Brand Guidebook. You probably know by now what we recommend! 🙂 Just a reminder – if you have questions, simply email us at with “BTS QUESTION” in the subject line.

How to Attract the Customers You Want

You are here:
Module 1: How to Position Your Brand to Sell
Section 1: How to Differentiate Your Brand
Post 2: How to Attract the Customers You Want

Business owners often make a dangerous mistake – they pursue popularity at the expense of profitability.

They try to attract everyone. Unfortunately, they resonate with no one.

This mistake is usually driven by fear. They don’t target a small group of customers because owners are afraid there won’t be enough of them to generate enough sales to pay the bills.

They also fear giving up a significant upside. After all – if your idea solves a problem for everyone, shouldn’t you market it to everyone? In a word…


How Facebook attracted over a billion users

We can look at Facebook as an example. How did they become the most popular social network?

They started with students at Harvard.

That’s it. Not the population of the world. Not North America or even the United States.

Not all college students. Not all Harvard students, past and present.

Just students currently attending Harvard.

Then they expanded to two other Ivy League schools (Columbia and Yale) and Stanford. Next, they expanded to the rest of the Ivy League before opening it up to all colleges in the U.S. and Canada.

Then they targeted high school students. After that, they opened up the network to employees at Apple and Microsoft.

Finally, they offered it up to everyone. Facebook built their BIGG success one niche at a time.

Start with who you do NOT want to serve

If you’re like many of the business owners we talk with, you may struggle to tell us who your ideal client is. So we’ve found it pays to look at it in a different way:

Who DON’T you want to serve?

Something amazing happens when you clearly define the people whose business you don’t want…

You attract more of the customers you do want!

We talked with Michael Port, best-selling author of Book Yourself Solid, about this concept. He calls it the “red velvet rope policy.”

One night, a nightclub owner in Manhattan didn’t let Paris Hilton past the red velvet rope. By the next night, the news had spread.

People flocked to his place! They wanted to patronize the place that wouldn’t let Paris Hilton in.

The same will be true in your business. You’ll attract more of the customers you want to serve by not marketing to people you don’t want. (We’ll talk more about how to make this happen in the next section on Messaging.)

Now – if you’re like most of the business owners we talk with, a question has formed in your mind:

What if you don’t get enough business from the people you want?

Just lower the red velvet rope for awhile. But put it up again as soon as possible!

[George] I paid a lot of money to learn this concept. It was stressed by one of the franchisors I worked with. They emphasized avoiding price shoppers. Go for people who want value. Whenever I strayed from this advice, I got burned!

It’s kind of funny. Many price shoppers demand the best price AND the best service. You can’t deliver both – someone can always beat you on one of them. So you end up with an unhappy customer who makes your life miserable while you eke out a meager living.

You can avoid this altogether. Start by defining who can’t get past your red velvet rope.

If you’re a startup, think about people you’ve had trouble working with in the past. If you’re already in business, think about problematic customers. In either case, what common denominators can you see?

(NOTE: We’ll dive deeper into this as well as the material that follows in Part 2 of the Differentiate Your Brand Guidebook.)

Your ideal customer is closer than you think

Early in the history of BIGG Success, we were talking with one of our coaches about our ideal customers. We told our coach what we discovered…

Our best customers were a lot like us!

She replied, “Well, duh!” We’ll never forget that moment. It was a smack in the face. And we needed it!

Chances are you see your ideal customer every day. You see them when you’re shaving or putting on your makeup.

Your ideal customer is the face in the mirror!

Remember authenticity? We discussed it in the last post. Authenticity helps you resonate.

It’s easier to resonate with people like you. In fact, it comes pretty naturally.

You know you. You know the challenges which you’ve faced to get where you are. You know how you got past them. You could really help someone like you.

Now understand, your ideal customer may not be just like you. But you probably have more in common than not.

So if you’re a startup, look for a target group of customers with whom you share similar characteristics. Think about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook – he was a student at Harvard who initially targeted students at Harvard.

If you’re rebranding, look at who your most profitable customers already are. If you can attract more people like them, you’ll have more “most profitable customers.” What a great way to grow!

So look at the same five areas you considered for yourself:

  • characteristics
  • dreams
  • strengths and weaknesses
  • values
  • place

What if your ideal customer is an alien from outer space?

Our flip answer is: “Good luck!”

It’s hard to resonate with someone that different. We aren’t saying it can’t be done. We’re just saying it will take more work.

You can probably find a better group of people – you’ll be able to attract them easier and deliver better results. However…

If you’re seeing some common ground at first glance, keep these three things in mind:

  • You probably have more in common than you initially think. Look deeper for all your similarities.
  • Don’t expect a perfect match. You’re not looking for clones!
  • You can empathize. You simply have to ask questions and listen so you come to understand them nearly as well as you know yourself. Then you’ll be able to think and feel like them.

[George] In one my early businesses, my ideal customer was married women between the ages of 30 and 55. I was a 23-year old man! So how did I relate to them? They were my mom and my sisters! With that understanding, I hired staff who fit that profile. They were all a huge help!

So if your ideal customers aren’t like you, figure out who in your life they are like and/or hire people just like them.

However, the social web requires businesses to be more personal. The more background and interests you share, the easier it is to make people feel special.

But you can still resonate if you listen attentively to and learn from people like them. And that leads us to…

You want your ideal customer “in your face”

Do you like it when people get in your face? Of course not! But we’re telling you – you want your ideal customers to be there! Here’s what we mean…

Words on a page can be meaningful. A summary can bring life to the words. But a picture can bring the summary to life!

So in the Guidebook, we’ll help you create a persona which summarizes the words you used to describe your ideal customer. Then you can find a photo which represents that persona to you.

We keep ours in front of us so we can remember exactly who we’re writing to or talking with. We’re looking at you right now! 🙂 Okay, that almost sounds creepy – we meant to say, we’re looking at a person who represents you to us.

You can do the same for your customers. Then you just need to glance at the picture to conjure up a rich description in your mind. It will help you stay focused on how you can help them.

Ultimately, they’ll reward you with loyalty. And they’ll tell people how good you are so you don’t have to! That’s one of the many reasons why you’re building a brand that sells.

Sample persona

As an example of everything we’ve discussed in this post, let’s say you want to market to business owners in the United States.

There are more than 27 million of them in the United States alone. How do you reach that many people? You can’t – you don’t have the resources. Yet. (That’s another reason you’re building your own brand – to gain leverage to do even more.)

But for now, you need to hone in on a smaller target market.

Well, there are 10 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. That’s still too many. You need a tighter focus.

You learn there are about 4 million “mommy bloggers” in the U.S. Now you’re getting somewhere!

Filter it by geographic location or by blogging topic and you’ve probably identified a great target market – especially if you’re a 30 something, college-educated, environmentally-conscious, stay-at-home mom with a blog!

With all of those qualities, you will know the most significant problems these people have. You’ll have a sense of what they want to accomplish. You’ll share many of their values. So you can offer them exactly what they want.

But what if you’re a dad? You would likely struggle to resonate with mommy bloggers.

So how about “daddy bloggers?” The numbers are harder to come by, but there may be as many as 140,000 of them. There’s a target market!

By the way, we got all this information online in less than 15 minutes. You’ll want to do more extensive research on your ideal customers. But you can get a sense of direction in almost no time!

Next Step

You’re now ready to move on. You can either go through Part 2 of the Differentiate Your Brand Guidebook or go on to the next post.

(As before, our recommendation is to go to the Guidebook while the material here is fresh in your mind. But you’re the boss – so you make the call!)

And don’t forget, you can email questions to us at
with “BTS QUESTION” in the subject line.

How to Be a Hero to Your Customers

You are here:
Module 1: How to Position Your Brand to Sell
Section 1: How to Differentiate Your Brand
Post 1: How to Be a Hero to Your Customers

We live with more uncertainty than ever before. Change happens faster and faster. New industries emerge, old ones are disrupted. Bubbles and bursts, booms and busts – the volatility is frightening.

We are bombarded with messages at a rate 28,571 times the amount our brains were built to process them. Since we can’t handle them all, most of them go completely unnoticed by our conscious minds.

A simple trip to the store can require more decisions than our cave-dwelling predecessors made in an entire lifetime. Many people feel overwhelmed with these little decisions, not to mention the major ones.

They’re looking for heroes. You can be one.

You can help them feel courage in the face of change and uncertainty. You can serve as a filter so they feel confident making decisions and moving forward. You can be by their side so they never feel alone.

They’ll reward you with their trust. They’ll support you with their money. They’ll sustain you with their loyalty. And they’ll happily recommend you to people just like them – the kind of people you want as customers.

Then, you’ll make the kind of money you’ve always wanted, you won’t have to work so much to make it, and you won’t have to spend so much money to grow your business.

The three secrets every hero knows

The question is: How do you get started? How can you be a hero to your customers? Remember the 3 R’s:

  • Ring true
    Authenticity is critical today. Nobody likes a fake. You have to know your superhero powers. After the next two bullet points, we’ll spend the rest of this post discussing this subject.
  • Resonate
    You strike a chord when you’re both relevant and timely. You have to read the situation so you understand the problem. And you have to be there when they need you. We’ll talk more about resonating – especially in the next post but you’ll see it through the whole program.
  • Results
    You promised to relieve a pain or give them a gain. But hero worship is suspended until you actually save the day by rescuing the victim! This is another subject which we’ll visit throughout the program.

We’ve learned something interesting about these three secrets – the best way to tackle them is two at a time…

In order to get the desired results, you have to resonate with customers. In order to resonate, you have to ring true.

As the owner, your brand is a reflection of you. So how do you ring true? Bring your true self from the depths of your being to the top of your mind.

Here are the five areas to look at:

(NOTE: Just read through the following for now. Then go to Part 1 of the Differentiate Your Brand Guidebook which will walk you through the four items.)

We start with the question mankind has pondered since the dawn of civilization: Who am I?

Think about yourself in a very holistic way. Describe yourself in your current state in as many ways as possible. If you’ve already started your business, think about it as well. What is it?

There’s no editing here, just a free flow. Record every thought that comes to mind in the Guidebook.

Once you’ve established where you are, you can think about where you want to go. Think five years from now. Who do you want to become by then? What do you want your business to be like?

Don’t try to conjure up specific, measurable goals. You’re just trying to get the desired “look” and “feel” of your life and business five years down the road.

Once again, let the ideas flow and jot them down in the Guidebook as they reach your conscious mind.

Strengths and weaknesses
Use your powers for the greatest good and you’ll be a hero. So it’s important to discover what you do best.

We want to point out a mistake people often make: Passion and strength may be related. But they don’t have to be.

You may have a passion for something you do as a hobby. It’s a part of you. It’s also a way to resonate with customers. Some of your strengths may be used for both. But there’s a difference between passion and proficiency.

What are your strengths? It’s a question many people struggle with.

First, you may downplay your strengths. When you can do something so easily it’s almost second nature, you may think it’s like that for everyone.

Second, we’re taught to be humble. So many people are bashful about proclaiming they’re outstanding. Don’t be one of those people! You won’t reach BIGG success unless you play to your strengths.

So if you’re finding it challenging to define your strengths, reach out to your family, friends and colleagues. Tell them you’re working on building your own brand so you can serve more people better. Ask them what they think you do really well.

Another way to find your strengths is to think about your weaknesses. The opposite of a weakness is often a strength. BIGG picture people often struggle with details and vice versa.

A notable example is Albert Einstein. He didn’t start talking until he was three, a year slower than normal. At sixteen, he failed a language exam. He was considered a terrible lecturer.

Research shows the “linguistics part” of his brain was smaller than normal. But the “math and spatial intelligence part” was unusually large. His genius stems from a liability.

As you think about your strengths and weaknesses, write down every thought in the Guidebook. We’ll get to the filtering process later.

When it comes to business, what’s most important to you? Notice the distinction we made here – your business values may or may not be the same as your personal values.

For example, you may highly value innovation in business. In your personal life, you may put a high price on stability. As a matter of fact, there are good reasons to do so.

However, business is a social science. Ultimately, it’s all about people! So you’ll want to makes sure your business values honor how you feel about people.

What are your core values? Record them all in the Guidebook as they come to mind. We’ll get back to them later.

What business are you in? It’s surprising how many people don’t give this much consideration. By doing so – you’ll understand yourself more thoroughly, serve your customer better and uncover more opportunities.

In the Guidebook, we’ll take you through all the various ways of looking at your business.

Next Step

With this background, you can either go through Part 1 of the Differentiate Your Brand Guidebook or go on to the next post. (We recommend that you dive into the Guidebook, but it’s up to you!)

Also note – if you have any questions, email us at
with “BTS QUESTION” in the subject line.