failure

Give Yourself Permission To Fail

I have been listening to Ziva Meditation’s ‘head in the game’ audio for quite some time now. And that’s where I came across this beautiful statement: ‘Give yourself permission to fail’ by the very lovely Emily Fletcher. Better yet, ‘dare to suck’, especially when you are amid some tough competition – be it for getting a new job, rebranding your company, preparing for a new marketing presentation or any scenario where you have to perform, act or respond (especially when the stakes are high).

Now that doesn’t connote if you manifest your sloppiness or deploy this thinking into creating something ‘really terrible’ for yourself. Contrarily, you implore yourself to accept the imperfections of your act and still deliver the very best you are made of, and of constant recreation of a new you.

The authenticity of your brand‘s purpose lasts and lingers while seeking short-term validation of who you are gradually dwindles, and doesn’t seem to matter in the long-term.

That’s where the thinking of ‘give yourself permission to fail’ is rooted in: your long-term thinking, work ethic, brand’s existence and the resulting culture you build for the people around you.

When you accept failures, they make your more grounded and uplevel you with the status-quo. More so, it also strengthens you to become more self-aware, humble and hard-working (no matter how gorgeous the word ‘smart’ sounds to you).

Some more reasons why you should ‘give yourself permission to fail’:

  • You become more creative, even when you feel constrained by your areas of improvement
  • You believe in evolution, instead of always focusing on the outcome. (Though balancing the two is the real game-changer for effective performance)
  • You’re learn-it-all instead of a know-it-all
  • (From the business standpoint): You experiment more and create your own Minimum Viable Products – and make better choices on what works for your brand based on time, cost, effectiveness (growth) and impact.
  • You become more adaptive to new situations, thereby flexing your inner compass to pivot when needed, while keeping your vision intact
  • And the best part? You are in total control of your actions and outlook, giving you new opportunity to explore the unknown with some ‘stretch comfort’ (as you would always learn something new that creates new comfort stretches for you to operate in).

Over to you.

Do you give yourself permission to fail?

And do you give yourself the next chance to improvise and, as Ray Dalio says, ‘maximize your evolution’?

Would love to know!

Brand Experience, branding, customer experience, performance

Performance Vs. Experience – What’s The Long-term Solution For Your Customers?

A lot has been brewing on the Web about what keeps your customers happy and satisfied. Companies work very hard to meet their business growth KPIs and are increasingly outcome-oriented so that their customers see some tangible, measurable results.

And a lot is skewed upon performance – it’s an action-oriented word, literally and figuratively.

Different stakeholders across business functions work together to create systems, processes, and technology for better collaboration to meet their customers’ business goals.

Which, as it turns out, is necessary to always touch the threshold of your customers’ expectations – after all, it’s all about managing customer expectations, if you want to be remunerated solidly for your services.

Since the global economy underpins more service-based offerings, how are we, as marketers and business owners, transitioning towards a more holistic imagery: of products, solutions, ideas?

Whether you are a salon owner, a dental clinic doctor,  a clothing retailer, a fitness coach running your own gym, a restaurateur, or anyone who is making a living by serving your set of customers – you are not just what you are, but you offer in your service menu: in a seamless, considerate, professional manner.

In a term, it’s customer experience, as a result of a seamless customer journey.

While being performance-focused makes you generally competitive enough to be pitted against your other industry firms, but exerting more on experience will make your solution/product deeper, immersive and consumable for your customers.

With that being said, here are some reasons why you should focus on customer experience than ever before, instead of pressing on the sometimes-stress-inducing word, performance, because:

You will be a coherent identity: a consummate brand. Aligning your experience with customer’s [both internal and external] journey – via effective content that espouses your company values, purpose and world-view, bold ideas – will collectively give you a solid foundation for business growth and long-term impact.

You co-create, instead of operating in functional silos and inadvertently competently with each other. Creating a customer experience that is predicated more on skills and talent – irrespective of the role and responsibility that you employees have – is the secret sauce to being collaborative and productive. Your customers can see through the consistency aspect clearly in their buying journey when they are employing your services in their business episode. Further, you foster creativity and create more agile teams that in sync with what your customers’ need(s) in their business context.

You are in a state of flow and not lurking on a number/ business goal deadline. As a matter of fact, when you are more engaged in creating something memorable for your customers, you solidify a deeper emotional and functional impact of your brand. Experience is the ultimate reward can give your customers when you feel you are part of their story: unique, personal and special in their own ways.

In sum: both performance and experience have their own significance depending on your customers’ journey. However, as Whitney Johnson mentioned in one of her podcast conversations with Tiffani Bova, ‘Experience is now the product, irrespective of what companies are selling’.

How are you doubling down on this tenet?

brand advocacy, Brand Experience, branding, Business, startup

The Role of Marketing in The New Age Startup Ecosystem

‘Startup’ is no more just a cute, fancy word. It defines hustle, pain, grind, resolve, commitment, to name a few euphemistic synonyms. Enter the Startupland and you get to greet so many like-minded and disruptive entrepreneurs, college dropouts, ex-McKinsey/ Bain/ BCG consultants joining the fray, among others.

There is a cutting-edge competition, even for the prospective hires, who are so eager to join startups even before there is a product/ market fit established in their business ecosystem. Part of the reasons: competitive equity compensation, more freedom to put your skills to work, more collaborative feel, chances of working with the founders from the scratch (most of the times), and developing your entrepreneurial skills by the side.

One of the most definitive roles that founders are vying to fill is that of a marketer. Naturally, when they are A/B testing their product fit in the market – and beyond – they would need some newness in the way it is presented in front of their customers. Per the seminal book ‘Entering StartupLand’ written by Jeffrey Bussgang, there are 3 stages where this startups’ growth graph fits in: Jungle (pre-product/ market fit), Dirt Road (post-product/ market fit, pre-scaling sales and marketing), and Highway (post-scaling sales and marketing). And all these three stages/ profiles namely – build it, sell it, scale it – necessitate great marketing and growth champs – people who can take the startup to the next level of customer obsession, business success and people growth.

In order to maximize your startup’s evolution, here are 5 ways your marketing hire plays a crucial role to establish your startup’s presence in the market.

A startup marketer:

  • Creates your brand’s manifesto. Your marketing person is also the chief brand officer of your startup. He helps in building, developing and defining your company’s brand persona, values and culture that best resonates with your internal and external stakeholders. The foundational principles and brand philosophies are created by this person after seeking the management/ founders buy-in. And this brand manifesto is an independent staple, regardless of how your marketing complex evolves over a period of time but is as relevant as the founders think and act as per what is outlined in this branding manual/ document.

 

  • Identifies your buyer persona(s). Subsequent to the first point, your startup brand marketer determines the relevant buyer persona(s) – semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers based on market research and real data – as per HubSpot. Naturally, a brand is created and marketed to a specific set of audience aka your potential customers – and their (positive) brand perception adds a layer of confidence to the marketer’s branding approach. Plus: the marketer further validates the brand effectiveness by identifying what kind of customers are going to be using your product/ solution in the market.

 

  • Steers you clear with the product roadmap and adoption for different stakeholders. The marketing person plays a crucial role in planning and strategizing the product roadmap. [It] is created to cater to different stakeholders in/ of your startup – be it for engineers, sales, customers, prospects. Your product roadmap communicates the strategic direction for your product. And so, in the first few stages of your startup’s evolution, your startup marketing person/ team aligns your internal stakeholders towards common growth KPIs for product performance based on your audience.

 

  • Elevates your customer experience journey. Every customer counts. Every customer experience brings value, which, then, is engineered to improve the buyer’s journey. That’s where marketing is constantly analyzing what customers are saying about your product/ solution. By studying the details/ nuances of how your brand’s emotions and functional benefits are communicated to your customers and how they feel about your offering, the marketer strives to improve the overall customer experience. Further, once the customer experience enhances, your few customer success stories – a repertoire of customers who help you in cross-selling and upselling, thereby making a business case of retention – come to fruition.

 

  • Hires and develops your startup’s first few brand custodians – and content. The first product ninja, growth hacker, brand specialist, content marketer – all these new roles are key to build brand advocacy for your startup. And all of the hiring responsibilities rest upon the marketer- especially when the marketing budgets are not that pronounced, new ways of showcasing your startup’s product/ solution capabilities fall under the aegis of the marketer’s work. Which is why, creating content is the most [cost] effective way of meeting customer acquisition and customer retention goals, especially when you are a new-hatched startup.

 

Over to you.

Hello founder(s), what does the role of marketing mean to you and your startup(s)?

 

brand advocacy, Brand Experience, branding, Business, competitive advantage

Think Retention: Your Brand Is Sorted

New customers. New leads. New business. Sounds synonymous, right? In a way, when you are in an acquiring mindset – you are all in for anything that turns gold.

And why not? Commercial success is important for any business to sustain. You onboard more employees – people who can carry the baton of your company’s brand in the business ecosystem. And if they are treated well, they would be your best internal customer advocates.

While acquisition mindset is the constant for your business to grow, retention mindset will help your business to thrive and sustain in the long-term.

Come to think of it – if you flounder with your existing customers, you will feel the aching pinch on a bigger scale than you would when you are not acquiring new customers.

Now, business is the engine that needs to be nurtured well, but it’s your brand that essentially captures the mind space of your customers and stakeholders, even when things go awry in your market.

So where does the retention mindset fit into this context?

A few takes, in various connotations:

  • Your customers need you more than you think. They have an innate understanding of your brand before they chose to do business with you. Chances – and possible bigger ones – are, they have read you visually, emotionally and logically about your brand and then deduced a decision to make you a part of their growth, collectively. They want more nurturing and constant assurance to keep up with their business challenges.
  • Upselling and cross-selling are always simpler with your existing customers than is it is when you are in a pre-screening round for you to qualify, and be qualified, by your prospective customers.
  • Retention of your brand, in the form of value systems, persona, and purpose, over a period of time shapes your audience’s perception of your brand’s existence and doesn’t dilute in a jiffy.
  • Your aspirational growth is balanced by the operational excellence when you have to keep up with the business maintenance tasks. Hence, retention slowly seeps into your culture and responsibility areas.
  • Further, retention implicitly empowers you to treat all your existing and new customers with care and precision in order to provide a seamless customer experience that they have never experienced before.
  • And lastly, retention helps you connect with your stakeholders in a deeper form: as you duly respect how others accept your brand, thereby creating an unspoken bond of trust, empathy, and compassion.

Remember: as they say, ‘customer retention is the biggest acquisition lever’ – and rightly so.

Over to you.

How are you widening the retention space of your brand in your customer’s mind?

Chime in!

branding, Business, online business, Personal Brand

Fail Better, Grow Fast

 

There are abundant opportunities in the market – especially when the majority of businesses are built on the Web.

Whether you are a blogger, a fashion Instagrammer or Youtuber – your success hinges on the Web: the way people respond to your work and your personal brand.

However, there a potential flip to your brand’s success as well: if you rant and ramble instead of educate and inform, you lose your credibility faster than you think.

But the good news? People are more receptive to your failures and bleep-ups – and they genuinely respect the fact that you can try again and revisit your personal brand on the Web.

So the constant fail-iterate –grow-incrementally mentality does thrive on the Web (and offline as well).

Your tenacious A/B testing – of your website, your content, and your brand’s resonance –will help you navigate an otherwise ‘tough love-driven’ online ecosystem.

And all of the ‘testing’ that doesn’t work still rewards you with learnings that can make you sharper in knowing what can work in the near future.

‘If you never try, you will never know’ is the only way forward to grow. Otherwise, we would all be comforting in our ‘home growth strategy’ – which, perhaps, wouldn’t be helping us much if we don’t widen our perspective and growth horizons.

The best part, failing better stretches our mind’s capacity to new limits – and would never be pulled into our previous way of thinking.

So the corollary of growing fast – and right – is by trying more, testing more and parlay those learnings into your business growth stack.

And more than any other way to know how you are progressing is by leaving it to anonymity – aka, the Web. People are more aware than ever about your company, your product, your solutions and can make a perception about your brand more intelligently than you think.

Let your content do the communication – and you do the execution part.

The rest, as they say, is history: aka your weaved-out narrative that has the potential of building lasting brand love.

 

 

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