Small Business Week has been a national event occurring during the first week of May since 1953 — a presidential proclamation was made in 1963 officially establishing the week as a national event.
Introduced by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a way to honor distinguished small business owners — events are held in select cities through the country. “More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.”– SBA.gov
The event is now in 63rd (officially 53rd) year of celebration having celebrated some of the best and brightest businesses. At TalenAlexander, we love the entrepreneurial spirit and relish in the opportunity to work with small businesses — we ourselves are a small business.
We are in the business of branding, and far too often have we discovered that small brands just as well as larger ones have trouble defining their brand. This is most often a point of contention with business owners feeling their customers/target audience will conduct business with them based on merit.
While this is partially true, it’s no longer the way commerce works in a sales oriented business world. Think abut the popularity of reality television shows, movies, sporting events, and politics. While the fan bases are typically drawn to these outlets based on a particular interest, they most often gravitate to the most magnetic characters/personalities.
In our current presidential race, long time real estate mogul Donald Trump lacks real, solid political experience. However, he has captivated an entire demographic of voters based largely upon his personality. As mentioned before, his numbers at the poll are less of a reflection of merit and more indicative of his brand.
“People are projecting onto Trump what they want to see. They are pouring into him their fantasies about what could be accomplished by a strong leader who doesn’t care about making people angry. But that’s a dangerous fantasy to indulge.” – Robert Tracinski, The Federalist
Though to be fair, every presidential election is largely based on personality. With presidential candidate Trump, most of his #TrumpedUp claims and ideologies lack a solid foundation creating what has been called a, Cult of Personality.
While the Trump empire is not a small business by any means, his recent level of success attained in the political realm is comparable to a small business on a meteoric rise.
That being said, we educate our clients that consumers are not just buying a product/service, they’re buying you — a brand. Duly we emphasize a certain level of morality, but must stress the fact that we live in a consumer culture based on personality more-so than character.
To be clear, you must have a quality product/service to offer your audience — your business must live up to its claim. Social proof plays a critically important role in your success. Just because you put a guarantee on the box doesn’t mean you’re selling a quality product.
In this scene from Tommy Boy, two (small business) salesmen are attempting to gain a distribution deal for brake pads. The customer, an auto parts retailer, says, “I like your line. And I like your prices. But there’s no guarantee on the box.” The protagonist’s (Tommy) product doesn’t include a keyword that triggers an emotional response in the parts retailer nor his customers– referenced at 0:59.
Tommy’s competitors (we’ll use Donald Trump) have utilized the word ‘guaranteed’ as part of their brand verbiage to go along with their bright orange packaging; Tommy’s product packaging features a green and white color scheme. This customer makes little fuss about the color palette chosen, but draws his attention to the specific language used.
When Tommy’s sales associate, Richard, attempts to define the product in technical terms, he is cut off — referenced at 0:26. The parts retailer goes on to explain the needs of his target market in purchasing a product. Again, their sales pitch is foiled due to a better branding strategy by their competitor.
In a last ditch effort, Tommy plants a seed of doubt concerning the character and quality of their brake pad competitors product. Painting a scenario in which the customer is hustled by slick words and premium packaging, he is able to gain parts retailer’s attention. In his final pitch, Tommy sells the customer his brand based on the strength of his character.
Prior to this sale, Tommy’s company was unable to capture their character, voice, vision, workplace culture, AND personality into their branding. While they carried a quality product and had been in business for years, their marketing efforts were ineffectual. In a real world scenario this is enough to make a floundering enterprise fold, but in Hollywood they understand their audience enjoys a happy ending.
From a real world perspective, their future customers were still likely to be triggered by the word ‘guaranteed’ which held great emotional value with them. In going forward, it would be wise that their company (Callahan Auto Parts) underwent a rebranding and their packaging included specific language to debunk the ‘guaranteed’ myth.
This simple mistake made by our fictional hero’s ‘mom and pop’ brand is one made by numerous small businesses. The lack of importance placed into branding can shortchange a truly unique product/service. The cornerstone to building a successful small business lies in your brand, and that is what we specialize in at TalenAlexander — We build brands that BOOM!