Are you focusing on completely the wrong thing in your marketing?

By Nial Adams

There’s a good chance that you’ve been focusing on completely the wrong thing and making a common marketing mistake!

Trying to sell your product or services is not where you need to start. It’s who you are that counts, not what you do!

common marketing mistakeOver a decade ago my mentor taught me about the concept of ‘be, do, have’. I’ll be honest, I understood what he meant but it took me a few years to really get this and understand how it could impact me.

The model works in a very simple way; so try this idea on for size…

Most people (including business people) believe that if they ‘do’ certain things they will then ‘become’ seen or perceived in a certain way. This then results in them having, or achieving, the results they want.

In actual fact it works the other way around.

Firstly you need to become a business, a leader or a person that reflects the values you truly subscribe to. If, for example, you want to been seen as a company with good customer service, then you need to become a customer-service led business.

It’s not good enough to only focus on customer service when something doesn’t go quite right. It needs to become part of your core values. It needs to drive every decision you make and the way you design and run your business.

In simple terms; become the sort of business person you want to be recognised as, this will lead you to behave and do things with a clear focus. Then as a result of this you will surely reap the rewards and have the experience you’re looking for.

But why is this so relevant to marketing? Because it is a common marketing mistake that can be quickly changed!

I’ve taught hundreds of people about the concept and helped them to use this as breakthrough in the way they market themselves and their offering.

When helping businesses, organisations and people to promote their products and services I start by looking at the individuals themselves, not the business. After all, people buy from people, right?!

And this is where I encourage you to start with your own marketing; don’t just focus on what you do or offer. It’s you that the customer wants to become comfortable with first. You, your team and everyone who represents your business. In every way. From the person who answers the phone to the delivery driver.

In many cases, especially for those starting out in business, they tend to want to tell the world about what they actually do. And this normally takes the form of talking about their product or offer.

However, creating a true ‘value proposition’ has much more to it than this and before your customers will listen to your message they need to feel comfortable and confident in who the person is that’s delivering the message. The more credibility you have, the more value you can establish right from the outset.

You can focus on this in a number of ways; your business, whether it has 1,000 employees your just you, needs to express a personality. A human face that people can identify with and relate to. This is about the personality of your brand. Branding is not just about your logo, corporate ID or the colour-scheme you choose for your website.

I believe this has never been more important than it is today. It’s vital to understand this if you want to maximise the results from your marketing.

I’ve seen a big shift in consumer habits and attitudes over recent times. I’m sure you have too. The assumed confidence of large corporate brands is rapidly falling away. The news is constantly awash with stories about companies not only failing their customers but also acting in ways that suggest they don’t really even care.

We know that there is a distinct move to consumers seeking out smaller, independent retailers and service providers as they look for stronger reasons to have more confidence.

Confidence is an essential part of building trust. And trust is the foundation on which a positive and profitable business relationship exists. So ,this is where you need to start first.

So how do you build confidence in the eyes of your potential consumers?

Well, the first thing to stress, which is absolutely vital is this; building a brand and marketing it with the aim of establishing trust and confidence comes from the inside out.

Let me explain.

If you really want to show what your business is made of, who you are and what you stand for, then you need to do this with the utmost integrity and authenticity. It’s no good playing to the gallery and thinking that you can simply talk a good message and the punters will swallow it.

You need to have an attitude that aligns with your message. You need to be congruent. And you need to express this every day, in everything that you do.

If you want to demonstrate that you are a caring and ethical company then you need to expose those values in your day-to-day actions. Marketing shouldn’t be about fabricating a message and then behaving in a way that’s totally contrary to it.

Just look at what we’ve seen happen over the recent past with some of the bigger brands. They love to promote their ‘family values’ and ‘ethical ideals’, whilst at the same time, behind closed doors, they continue to treat suppliers, staff and even customers in ways that are completely unacceptable and contradictory to the face they want to portray. And for the most part they’ve been able to get away with it.

Now the rules have changed; consumers have a voice and listen to each other. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of satisfied customers they serve each month or day. If they are shown to be inconsistent and failing to uphold those values, we get to know about it, fast.

So it’s never been more important to run your business is a way that gives evidence to the values you want to be known for.
The reasons for this should be clear and I certainly hope that this is an attitude you strive for every day.

Going beyond this it’s also about laying down a solid bedrock of credibility. As this happens you’ll see your customers respond to it. They’ll recognise you for it and promote that to others.

When you operate in this way you build real value in your marketing assets from the inside out. And these assets are of real value to you because they can’t simply be bought. They have real substance.

Of course this takes time and effort and yes, marketing isn’t all about instant results. You need to put the groundwork in over time. And the best time to start that? Now!

When it comes to promoting your products or services there are two main factors you must remember. The first is obvious but the second is something that very few people are even aware of. And this gives rise to a common marketing mistake.

Your products or services will have features and you’ll be able to learn how to present these as benefits. You can build a profile that is attractive and, hopefully, compelling. But telling customer’s what they should buy from you is not enough, it’s only one half of the formula.

This second element is vital – your customers need to know why they should be buying it from you!

Consider this for a moment. A consumer is looking for something. They find two identical products, at the same (or similar) price. What factor really helps them to make the decision?

The chances are that they’ll spend their money with the company and person they feel most comfortable with, the one they really trust. The one they feel that actually deserves to win their business.

That’s how I often feel and I’m guessing you’re pretty much the same. It’s a feature of human instinct that will always exist.

So don’t simply talk about your products or services. Make sure you go back several steps and start by taking a long hard look at your company and the people in it. Look at how others might perceive you. Are you expressing what really counts in the mind of your customers?

The principle of Be, Do, Have is a powerful one and a good way to keep on track.

The first focus should be on how behave on a daily basis. If you want to be known as an ethical company with integrity you need become this first. This is only a matter of choice.

You can decide today that you and everyone in your company will become better at serving your customers. You can behave in a way that is consistent and congruent with the values you believe you should be expressing.

Next you can start doing the things that support this with your actions. This is about the good habits of business and the way you focus your approach. This will help you to really build your business brand from the inside out.

It will help you to create a basis for trade and an approach that you’ll become known for. And it is this that becomes the foundation upon which you can then build your offering.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the need to articulate benefits over features. Your customers and clients don’t buy what you do, they buy the end result. This is all good marketing sense and something every smart business owner needs to embrace if they want to get powerful results from marketing and promotion.

So you’ve helped the (would-be) customer or client understand what the benefit is, or the ‘WIIFM’… What’s In It For Me, now you need to help them understand why they should buy it from you, and not just anyone else.

You see, there are always TWO elements to every sales message and so many people either forget, or are completely unaware of this.

1. Tell them why they need to buy your product or service, AND
2. Tell them why they should buy it from you!

It’s with this second element that WHO you are becomes so important. Factors such as trust, confidence, credibility and my favourite (and possibly the most powerful) ‘Social Proof’ are all centred on who you are, not what you do or sell.

So here are my three big question for you;

  • How do you describe yourself to others?
  • Are you making the most of the personal brand assets you have as a person, and
  • Are you really articulating these to the audience?

Are you core to your business brand? If so then this is where you need to start. Remember your customers are buying from you, so this is what starts the process of building trust and confidence.

If you want to significantly dial up your profile and ‘position yourself’ effectively you need to BECOME that expert, you need to BECOME the person other people will trust and value. This creates a powerful effect; when you BECOME that person, you will start to DO the things that reflect this and, as a result, you’ll start to HAVE the outcome you’re looking for.

This concept may appear very simple and perhaps you already follow a similar ethos but my challenge is how are you getting this message out to your audience and what could you do more to dial this up? How can you expand your marketing impact and reach.

Your next step… and actions to follow up:

Take a little time out. Step away from your business and maybe gather other people from your management team, or your trusted advisors, mentor, etc.

Then take a careful look at how you want your business to present its values. What do you want to be known for? What are the things that you know (and can evidence) that are really important to your customers. This could include:

  • A fast and reliable service
  • Excellent value-for-money
  • Being innovative and creative
  • Top quality products or services
  • Attention to detail, getting things right
  • Being responsive to customers, putting them first


Set out a short description of this and then set some aims around it. Think about the different ways you can express these values to your customers (and would-be customers) as you promote and market your business.

Flying Start Marketing Challenge

And above all, remember this is not about paying lip-service, or writing some glib ‘mission statement’ to hang on the wall.

It’s about making these values part of the real fabric of your company and demonstrating them day in and day out.

Business is very tough right now for a lot of companies, they struggle to engage with customers. Gone are the days of doing an average job and still making a sustainable profit.

Don’t aim for ‘average’, and don’t think customers will make do with simply being ‘satisfied’. Be courageous and build a business that really stands out from the crowd.

Be, do and then have…


PS. If you want to learn more about marketing take the Free Trial of Make Marketing Work – my new marketing course online.


Nial Adams Author of Make Marketing Work

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  • […] My key point is this; don’t believe that you need to waste years of trial and error and lots of cash working out how to do everything. Look around you and research your business, how others work and most of all what customers really want. […]

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