Daily Lab: Experts don’t build brands

To grow a sustainable business, though, marketing costs need to go down over time, not up.

Daily Lab: Experts don’t build brands
“Experts don’t build brands. They build track records.” — Leah Sanford

When an entrepreneur struggles to get prospects to see the value of their work, they often jump straight to brand building.

The understandable hope is that increased visibility will bring credibility. And great branding designers and strategists can absolutely do that.

But that doesn’t mean it’s always the best place to start. Because there’s something I recommend entrepreneurs do first:

Build a track record.

It’s true, people will work with a company once because they look reliable or otherwise impressive.

But they’ll only work with them again if they actually are. And they’ll only recommend them to others if they significantly overdeliver.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that very few business owners struggle to get work. In fact, they’re usually too busy. Because all they have to do (and often all they’ve done) is lower their prices or increase their marketing costs until they fill the funnel.

But those returns diminish fast. The price gets lower (and so does the quality), and the marketing costs go up (because no one’s coming back because the quality’s getting worse).

To grow a sustainable business, though, marketing costs need to go down over time, not up. Which means our clients and customers need to be doing some of our marketing for us (and more and more over time).

And that means we need to overdeliver to such an extent that they want to tell everyone about us.

So, before we focus too much on our brand, we should focus more on our track record of massive, undeniable client success.

And then, when we add in a powerful brand identity, we add fuel to the growing, compounding engine of customer interest.

As Rosser Reeves wrote more than 60 years ago, cleverness and uniqueness can’t “transmute lead into pure and shining gold. Unfortunately, lead remains lead. We must start with gold.”

We must start with a track record.

And in my experience, the fastest way to build a track record is to focus on what we're best at, what our best clients value most, and what we love doing.

Everything gets easier from there.