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Don't fall into the death spiral

Why do you get out of bed and go to work in the morning?

Do you know the answer? Could your employees answer the same question?

If you don’t know, and especially if they don’t know, yesterday was the time to start figuring it out. But hey, better late than never!

I recently had a very interesting, and very important, conversation with Rob Howard, one of Canada’s leading brand builders - or as he would say “brand rehabilitation experts” - about just that.

Rob is the author of Fix: Break The Addictions That Are Killing Brands. His thesis is simple yet significant: your business has to have meaning for you, your staff, your consumers. If it doesn’t, if you lose your reason for being, you get trapped in a death spiral. A process where you make short-term decisions for short-term gain, essentially buying clients.

You have probably been there before. I have. Your day-to-day operations become about figuring out the next sale, discount, special offer you can get to market (the very overcrowded and noisy market).

In the death spiral, advertising is only about customer acquisition. Rob would call it “customer interruption”, simply shoving them down your sales funnel. This is the opposite of “client interception”, engaging your target audience where they’re at, with the language they speak, in the way they want to be spoken to. When you intercept a customer, you respect them and understand their worldview, with an emphasis on their journey.

Rob offered two questions to gauge if you’re doing this.

  1. “If you stopped advertising tomorrow/promoting/discounting tomorrow what would happen?”

  2. “If your company/product/brand disappeared tomorrow would anyone miss it?”

Knowing your market in this way takes tremendous effort in research, testing, and retargeting, of course. But the core is straightforward. Remember why you do what you do. Or, as Simon Sinek would say, “Start with why”. When you’re centred in that way, you live and breathe your value and the value you offer to the world. You make space for others so you can come to them without being pushy or justifying your existence.

One of the best things about this line of thinking is that it applies to all businesses and all people in the business. From the solopreneur ready to make their first hire to the Fortune 500 company that needs a change to increase global profitability; from the data entry guy in finance to the CEO in the E-suite, knowing your why is really a culture thing. A thing that could make or break your company in the long term.

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