Leaders of family businesses need confidence to answer critical questions surrounding their brand and company positioning. Lack of confidence often means that important decisions are not being made, and the brand will immediately begin to falter. In most cases, confidently answering questions about the business target market and differentiators is more important than picking the “best” answers to those questions.
I was having some severe writer’s block this week until I had an unexpectedly lovely chat with Steven Wolgemuth, author of The Crucial 12, an award-winning marketing book that unpacks what leaders need to successfully direct effective marketing efforts.
Steve and I were nerding out together about branding and marketing strategy when all of the sudden he said something that hit me hard.
He said that he has found a leader’s confidence in answering questions about positioning, business target markets, and other aspects of their strategy to be as important as the answers themselves.
I want to let that sink in for a moment.
It is as or more important that you can confidently answer questions around your business target market and differentiators than it is that you have picked the “best” answers to those questions.
As soon as he said that, I knew it to be true.
When I see family businesses get stuck – whether they are $5M or $20M or $1B in revenue – it is most often because they have lost confidence in their answers to those questions.
- Are we really meaningfully different from our competitors anymore?
- Are we targeting the right customers to fuel our future growth?
- How do we explain the complexity of our company in a way that our employees and prospects can understand?
- Are we driving our growth or just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks?
When, as a leader, you lose confidence in your answers, the effects trickle down almost immediately.
Your team becomes confused. Your marketing partner starts providing uninspiring or off-brand content and design. Your sales team starts going off-script and improvising. The clarity and consistency that you need to build value in your brand and drive sales and profit become elusive.
The most important thing to know is that it is natural and normal to go through these periods of uncertainty. If you didn’t question these things, you wouldn’t be doing your job to keep the company evolving, relevant, and competitive. The key is not to dwell too long on them. At some point soon, deciding becomes almost more important than the decision itself.
I’ve seen a 60-year-old company that built up a hugely complex (and confusing) divisional and product brand structure to avoid an emotionally charged decision to change the company name.
I talked the other day with a company that has been trying to decide whether they should launch a new product line for over five years.
I have recently had conversations with four different people in a company that is trying to decide whether to double down on their existing customer base or expand to a market they don’t know well. (Three have competing perspectives, and one is just desperate for a decision so they can move forward and do their job.)
These stalemates suck morale, energy, and money out of these businesses.
If you find yourself relating to this, consider participating in our leadership team workshop or our brand accelerator system. Both of these options can provide the clarity, confidence, and energy you need to move your team forward.
Remember, by not deciding to give clarity to your team, you are deciding to keep your company where it is. You are deciding to stay stuck.