Marketing Matters: 02 Identity

by Emily Blackburn

In this second episode of Qualified Remodeler’s Marketing Matters podcast, host Rich Harshaw discusses the importance of having a company identity for successful marketing. 

Company identity according to Harshaw boils down to five core points: products, workmanship, bedside manner, core values, and culture and reputation. 

Under each of these five points, which Harshaw calls “The Five Pillars of Identity,” are 10 to 12 sub-points that contractors can choose from to help build their identity around. These sub-points help contractors to ask themselves, “What is it that our company is all about?” 

As Harshaw himself puts it, “If you can communicate who you are, how you’re different, why you’re better, and help people to understand what they can expect when they do business with you… I promise you, this is a winning formula. Your marketing is going to be outstanding.”

Transcript below:

Several years ago, my wife and I decided to put our sanity to the test by embarking on what turned out to be almost a 5,000 mile cross country trip in our silver Chevrolet, 15 passenger van with our, count them, six lovely children. At the time ages, about six months to 12 years old. 

Yep. Most people would cringe at the thought of having six kids. We decided to do it. And not only that we decided to take ’em on this cross country trip. After two relatively uneventful days of driving, we were descending out of the mountains into a little community of Ogden, Utah. We started for a hotel. 

Now this was back in the days before iPhones. You couldn’t just whip it out and decide, “Hey, where are we gonna stop? Let’s take a look. Oh, vacancy, no vacancy. Here’s what’s coming up.” Couldn’t do that back then, you had to use the principle of pull over on the exit and see what was there. 

So that’s what we did. And the first place that we found was a Holiday Inn Express. It met our basic requirements: it was relatively new, breakfast was included for free. It had a swimming pool (If you’ve got kids, you know, that’s important). 

So we checked in and as we were doing so I couldn’t help but notice a sign on the counter, showing that Holiday Inn Express was the, what they called, “Home of the Stay Smart Shower-head by Kohler.” The sign sitting there on the counter, showed a picture of a giant shower head that appeared to be, I don’t know, bigger, badder, bolder than any regular shower head could ever hope to be. I didn’t pay that much attention. Just another sign on another counter, no big deal. 

But when we got to our rooms and the kids immediately started jumping between the beds and going crazy, letting all that energy out, you know how that goes, I looked over next to of the TV on the dresser and there was another sign showing a picture of this hulking shower-head and inviting me at my earliest convenience to check out the, what they called “Stay Smart bathroom” featuring, of course, the Stay Smart Shower-head by Kohler. 

All right, I’m a marketing guy. I’ll take a look. 

So I went into the bathroom and flipped on the light and I was met by another sign. This was the third on, now. This was on the counter informing me that the Stay Smart Bathroom had more pleasant surprises, including a bow-out shower curtain rod. You know what that is, right? Plush, oversized towels, designer, toiletries, you know, fancy soaps and shampoos and lotions and stuff. And then of course the centerpiece of the entire bathroom, the Stay Smart Shower-head by Kohler. So I turned and I looked to behold, the Stay Smart Shower-head in all of its glory and splendor, but I couldn’t see it because of that, you know, bow-out shower curtain rod. 

It was closed. The shower curtain was closed. 

So I opened it to take a glance and I could hear the angels sing and the bright lights coming from the heavens as I witnessed the beauty and the splendor of the Stay Smart Shower-head by Kohler. 

Now you wanna know how I knew it was the Stay Smart Shower-head by Kohler? 

Well, believe it or not, it had a sign hanging on off of it, okay, it said, “Here’s the Stay Smart.” It’s like a door hanger, but hanging from the shower head. I took a picture of it. It’s a podcast so you can’t see it, I wish you could, but it was a little sign hanging off the shower and saying, “Hey, here it is! And it’s got three gourmet-sounding settings, invigorating, revitalizing rejuvenating.” 

So I did the only thing I could think of. 

I locked the door, stripped down, turned on the water, set the shower, head to rejuvenating. And, uh, I got in and I’m not gonna lie. It was delightful. Until about 10 seconds later, when my wife started banging on the door, telling me that the kids were starving and destroying the room and to get my butt out of there and to do something with them. So I ensconced myself in the luxury of an oversized, 100% cotton bath towel, got dressed, and I think I took the kids to Pizza Hut. 

So what’s going on? What’s the bright idea here? Well, hold that thought. I’m gonna circle back around to the Holiday Inn Express and that shower-head. I’m gonna tell you how it has a lot to do with your marketing. Yeah. Believe it or not. This showered has a ton to do with how well your marketing campaigns are gonna go. 

So let’s start with this. We’re gonna talk about differentiation today, standing out from the crowd. Now I want you to imagine a basket full of green apples. There’s I don’t know how many in a basket, maybe a hundred, 200 apples. And they’re all green. Now, I want you to imagine one single red apple sitting at the top of that basket. You look in there, it’s all green and you see this one red apple. That’s what you are hoping happens when you go to the marketplace and you do your advertising, you do your marketing. You want people to look at all the different options and see all those green apples that are kind of the same and you want them to notice this one, red apple that’s you, differentiated, right? You want them to see that, and you know what? Most of you probably think that’s exactly what’s happening. 

“Hey, look, there we are. We’re the red apple in a sea of green apples.”

But the truth is what is really happening is, well, unfortunately, you’re just another green apple in a sea of green apples. You look like, to the casual observer, which your prospects are, you just kind of look like everybody else. 

Now, the reason this happens is because most advertising is copied from most other advertising. I mean, think about how you got into this business. Most people that start home improvement, remodeling, design-build companies, they have expertise in either selling or in production. Now that’s not always true, I know that, but about 80, 90 percent of the time, that’s where people come from. 

So when it comes to marketing, they sit down and they go, “All right, we gotta have some marketing. What should we do?” And they look around and they think, “Hmm, what do we do at the other company where I used to work?”Or “What is everybody else doing?” And you just kind of copy it. 

And what happens is not only does your marketing look very similar to everybody else’s marketing, it also says things that are very similar. And the real problem with this is something called platitudes. 

Now I want you to pay close attention. I’m gonna give you a definition of what a platitude is. 

Platitudes are words or phrases that are drearily commonplace and predictable, that lack power to evoke interest through overuse and repetition that are nevertheless stated as though they were original or significant. 

In other words, you’re saying stuff that sounds profound to you, but to most people who are hearing it, eh, it just sounds like something that all the companies would say. It sounds like exactly what everybody else would say. You know, things like “We’ve got the best service, the highest quality, we’ve got a giant selection over here. We’ll give you a free estimate. We’ve been in business since 1431 BC.” 

I mean, these are the kinds of things that people are saying in their marketing. And when somebody goes to find something; siding, windows, kitchens, baths, whatever it is that you happen to sell, whatever it is that you happen to be involved with, they’re going to see a lot of marketing that all looks really similar. 

Now I want you to answer me this: If all of the marketing looks really similar, what is the major thing that most people will default to when making a decision?  The answer, obviously, I hope it’s obvious, it’s price. If you don’t give them other things to make a judgment call on other to judge who’s better and who’s different, then they’re just gonna ask for the lowest price. 

I had a roofing client, this is way back in the day, this is back in the late nineties, who had a giant roofing company, that was one of my customers. And they said, “We hate advertising in the Yellow Pages.” 

Now I know Yellow Pages is way, way, way outdated, but stick with me, this story is interesting. And I said, “Why do you hate the Yellow?” Cause at the time in the nineties, this was the major thing. This is how everybody got a lot of business. 

And he said, “Well, because whenever somebody calls me out of the yellow pages, all they ever do is ask me how much it’s gonna be for a new roof. And I hate that. I hate dealing with these people that are just asking for the lowest price.” 

And I said, “Well, why do you think they ask for the lowest price?” 

He said, “Well, I don’t know, because they’re cheap.” 

And I said, “Well, how is it possible that just the cheap people go to the Yellow Pages and everybody else goes to something else or finds you some other way?”

Now, again, obviously Yellow Pages are a thing in the past, but now we’ve got things like advertising. We’ve got Google. People are gonna do a Google search. That’s all the Yellow Pages was, a book version of Google, right? And here’s what happens. People will Google. They find different competitors and they all look about the same. 

And so people call and they ask, “How much is it gonna be?” They ask you over to their house and they wanna know what’s the bottom line. “How much is it gonna cost?” 

Because they do not know, they do not understand how to make a decision when it comes to buying what you sell now, why is that? 

Well, it’s pretty simple. Let’s just take roofing as an example. Again, I acknowledge that you probably do something beside roofing, but it could be windows. It could be kitchens, baths, doesn’t matter what it is. Let’s just take roofing though. How many times do you think the average person has buy out a new roof? 

And the answer is somewhere between zero and one, probably closer to zero than one. They’ve never bought a roof. They don’t know what’s involved. They don’t know anything about shingles. They don’t know who should be installing it. They don’t know anything. So when they call you, the only thing that they can think of to ask is, “Well, how much does it cost?”

And this leads to a problem, which is, like I said earlier, most marketing looks all about the same, whether it’s your website looks kind of the same as everybody else’s says kind of the same thing as everybody else’s maybe it’s your home show displays. If you’re in home shows, print, advertising, online advertising, if you’re on TV and radio, man, all of that advertising kind of looks and sounds about the same. Direct mail, pretty everything else you can think of. 

This is the dilemma that you have got to find a way to overcome, which is being just another green apple in a sea of green apples. 

Now, here’s why this is so problematic. It would be one thing if you were just an average company and you just kind of were like everybody else, but if you’ve worked hard to actually be different and be better and to be advantageous to the consumer, but then meanwhile, you look and sound pretty much like everybody else, well, that’s a problem. 

So here’s what we wanna do. We wanna figure out how to overcome this problem and actually differentiate. Now, if you don’t believe me, you’re saying “Oh okay. That sounds pretty good, Rich, but our company is way different. We’re not the same.” Here’s what I want you to do. Just go over to Google and I want you to Google, whatever it is you do. 

And then I want you to go to the first 5, 10, 15 different websites that pop up. And I want you to see that they all say about the same thing. And this is the most important part. They almost all have a bunch of platitudes on them. Now, last year I went and spoke at a closet organization association meeting. And, uh, I was talking to them about this exact topic, identity, that we’re gonna get to here in a minute. But, uh, in preparation for that, I pulled up a bunch of websites. And again, one thing I’m going to keep acknowledging as we go through this podcast series, is that I know that every single example that I use doesn’t exactly fit with exactly what you do. So you’re gonna have to kind of go with me on the principles, but for these closet organization companies, here’s what I found: 

I found one called the Closet Wizard: “We work magic with closets, garage, home and elegant built-ins too.” And then if you read this, here’s what it says. “Custom space saving solutions by closet wizard, closet wizard specializes in making the most of your closet space, custom space saving solutions through use of CAD design.”

Okay, you go to the next one. Here’s what we find Classy Closets. The first thing it says is: 20 percent off. And I’m just going through the websites that come up on Google search, “Limited time offer high quality with competitive, low pricing, classy closets services, the Orum, Utah county and surrounding areas.” That’s where I happen to live. “We Excel at organization. When you have a place for everything and everything has its place, you feel more in control, life organized.” How is that saying how this company’s any different or better than any other company? 

It’s just saying what closet organization does. 

Here’s a third one that comes up. It’s called Cutting Edge Closets and Design. Here’s what it says. I’m reading the text on the homepage. “Cutting Edge Closets is centrally located in Orum, Utah and is serving clients throughout the Wasatch front. In Utah. We service all levels of housing markets from entry level to large scale custom premium homes. And we have products to meet any size budget.”

Oh brother. It’s all the same kind of junk. Here’s another one. Oh no. That’s classy. Closets again. They’ve got a video that base says the same thing. 

Oh, here’s one that says “Up to three times more storage space. Let us triple the amount of storage capacity in your closets.”

 Now let me ask you this. And I want you to think about this really, truly, honestly. Okay. Just kind of step aside for a minute, from the examples I’ve been giving you and I want you to think about this: 

Does anybody go to Google and look for a closet organization company if they don’t already pretty much know what a closet organization company does? I mean, they know what it does. “Oh wow. If I go to Google and look for a roofing company, maybe it’ll show me how I could get a new roof.” Of course that’s going to happen. And again, fill in the like for whatever it is You do. Design-build kitchen and bath, exterior remodeling. 

Here’s what happens: all of these websites, and also advertisements, home shows, all the stuff I talked about earlier, it ends up sounding, well, let me give you this, uh, this kind of mental picture. Do you remember when you were a kid and I don’t know how old you are. I’m in my early fifties, when I was a kid, I grew up watching these, uh, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas specials with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. Do you remember when Charlie brown would talk to a teacher or to a parent? Do you remember what it would sound like when the adults would talk? Remember that?

“Wa wa wa wa wa wa wa.”

You remember that? I think it had something to do with the idea that whatever it was that an adult was saying, as far as a kid was concerned, it just sounded all the same. And it all sounded like nonsense. And it wasn’t really worth paying attention to?

“Wa wa wa wa wa wa wa.”

That’s what most marketing sounds like to most prospects. You say things like “more space, high quality. We service any budget” and people hear that. And it’s like 

“Wa, wa, wa, wa, wa wa wa.”

Now, let me tell you what the antidote is. It’s something called identity. Now you saw that in the title of this podcast. Let me tell you what identity is. Identity, okay, remember first, what a platitude was? It’s something that you think sounds profound, but it’s communicated in a way that isn’t profound. 

Here’s what identity is. 

The definition is as follows: words, phrases, and images, articulated with power, precision and passion that instantly and definitively communicate who you are, how you’re different and better, and what customers can expect when doing business with you. 

Now, I’m gonna say that one more time. I want you to get the full effect. The definition of identity: words, phrases, and images, okay, it could be on a print ad. It could be on a website. It could be on any kind of marketing articulated with power, precision and passion that instantly and definitively communicate who you are, how you’re different, how you’re better, and what customers can expect when they do business with you. 

Okay? Now here’s what I wanna do. I wanna hold that definition of identity. And I want to go back over to the Holiday Inn Express. Remember that from the beginning of this podcast, remember I said that there was four different signs on the check-in counter, by the television, on the counter in the bathroom, and then literally hanging from the shower head. 

Well, here’s what I found. I found that when Holliday Ind Express did surveys to find out what people thought about their shower, head, that there was a dramatically different response, depending on whether or not they had seen these signs. Now, here’s what they did. They gave people these little cards to fill out, to rate things about their hotel stay. Now, the people didn’t know that the thing that they were really trying to rate was the shower head and the, the way that they accomplished that is they simply said rate the following things on a scale of one to five, one to five stars. 

Okay. And then they asked them all, all different kinds of things about the hotel. “What did you think about the parking lot? Was the hotel clean? Was the staff friendly? How was the breakfast? How was the swimming pool? Were the beds comfortable? Was it clean? How was the cleaning staff? How was the, uh, hotel restaurant” All of these different things, pillows, were they comfortable?” 

All of these different kinds of things that you associate with a hotel stay, they were asked on this, uh, card to rate from one to five. Now embedded in this were questions about the bathroom and the shower head, and here’s what they found: They found that when they did not put these signs out for people to see, that people rated the shower head at about 4.3 stars, meaning it’s good. We like it. When they put these signs out, people rated it at about 4.9 stars, significantly higher. 

Well, why is that? The reason is that when people know what to look for, they’re going to pay attention and they’re going to give that thing more credibility, more status, higher ratings than if they hadn’t been led to pay attention to that thing. Now it makes sense, if you think about it, doesn’t it? There’s actually a principle of psychology behind this and it’s called confirmation bias, or sometimes you might hear it called cognitive confirmation bias. 

Here’s what that means: People look for evidence to support what they already believe, and they ignore or minimize evidence that goes against what they believe. Okay. Now, confirmation bias is really common in all facets of life. Probably the most obvious example is politics. Whether you lean left or right. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever you see in the news you’re to run it through the filter of your political views. And you’re going to agree or disagree with it. Generally speaking, based on what you already believe. Okay. I won’t get into examples because I like to stay away from politics on podcasts, it just gets people upset, but it is a good example to help you understand this concept of confirmation bias. 

Now go back to the Holiday Inn Express when they took tell people, “Hey, here’s a shower head, Hey, look how big it is. Hey, look how cool it is. Look at it, look at it, look at it, look at it.” And they keep pointing at the shower head. Then people notice that shower head, and they assign, again, like I said, values of credibility, status, and higher ratings to it than they would if it had just not been pointed out. In other words, the shower head could still be awesome and great, but people just wouldn’t notice it. 

And here’s why: because there’s just too many things to notice. I mean, think about it. There’s a thousand things going on all the time in your environment, you can’t pay attention to all of them. Humans are wired to not pay attention. Sensory overload would be unbelievable. So here’s what you’ve gotta do in terms of your marketing. You’ve got decide what it is that you want people to notice. And then you’ve gotta point at it just like Holiday Inn Express pointed at their shower head. So think about it for a minute. What is it that you want people to know about your company? Do you want them to know that there’s certain things that you do really, really well? What are they? There’s reasons that your customers love you. What are they? The key is to identify those things and then articulate them in a way that is impossible to miss. 

If prospects can immediately tell what it is that they can expect when doing business with you, you lose. That doesn’t mean you can’t do business and you’re gonna go broke, but you’re missing a huge opportunity to differentiate. You have to tell people what to expect, you have to point at your shower head. 

Now, when you do this, your identity becomes the central hub of all your marketing activities. Everything you do can be pulled from this identity. Your website can come from your identity, print ads and mailers, online ads, TV, and radio ads, home shows, phone scripts, your in-home salespeople, your SEO. Yeah, even your SEO. All of this can come from this thing called identity, but you have to create the identity first before you can start putting it into stuff. What happens in most cases with most companies is they just start creating marketing based on whatever they can think of. 

It may have something to do with their identity. Usually it doesn’t, usually it’s just platitude filled. Trust me. I’ve seen this my entire career spanning back over 25 years, I have been a platitude buster. You show me a website. I’m gonna show you platitude. You show me an advertisement. I’m gonna show you a platitude. 95, 98, 99 percent of the time. It’s all full of platitudes. 

Now let me give you an example of what it looks like to have an identity instead of platitudes. 

Now, this is a website, I’m just gonna give you one example. I’ll give you more examples later, but this is one that I’ll go through with you right now on this podcast. And you can look it up if you want. It’s a website called upscaleremodeling.com. They’re in Ithaca, New York. It’s a long time client of mine. And here’s what you’re gonna see when you go to this web page. You’re going to see a series of sliders that go across the page. They stay there for a few seconds and then it goes to another slider. And what we’re doing on these sliders is we’re communicating our identity. 

Now, remember the identity should be words, phrases, and images articulated with power, precision, and passion. I want you to think about this when I’m going through these examples: power, precision, and passion, that instantly definitively communicate who you are, how you’re different and better, and what customers can expect when they do business with you. 

Now, again, if you want to go look this website up, be my guest, feel free to do it. Upscaleremodeling.com. 

Here’s what you’ll see: 

The first slider: “We focus on every single detail of every single job. That’s how we guarantee 100% satisfaction. Start to finish no exceptions.” behind that there’s a picture of a beautiful house that they remodeled. Okay? This company does whole house remodels outside-interior, mostly interior, but also exterior. Again, I want you to listen to this one more time. “We focus on every single detail of every single job. That’s how we guarantee 100% satisfaction. Start to finish no exceptions.” A few seconds later, it slides. 

The next one shows a picture of a kitchen. And here’s what the header says: “We are hyper strict on installation standards. Every little detail down to the last is carefully considered.” 

And then after a few seconds, it slides to the next thing, which is a bathroom. And here’s what it says. So there’s a main headline. And then a sub-headline the main headline’s a little bit bigger font. And then a little bit smaller font below that says “Consistent, clear communication is our calling card” And then below that “Always know your job status, no unpleasant surprises ever.”

And then you wait a second and it goes to the next one. And this is a picture of a living room. Again, we’re communicating what it is we do. We’ve got an exterior, we’ve got a kitchen, we’ve got a bathroom. We’ve got a, a living room. Here’s what this one says. “Our warranties have backbone and teeth, not loopholes. When we say it’s covered, you can take it to the bank.”

Okay. Power, precision passion. 

And so these are things that this company really excels at. When you go to the main part of the website to see the main text and headlines, here’s what it says:  “Welcome to stress-free, quality first, ‘not done until you say it’s done’ remodeling.” And by the way, that’s in quotation marks not done until you say it’s done quote, remodeling, successful remodeling. It doesn’t happen by accident. It’s deliberate, measured and absolutely on purpose. 

“We’re stickler for details. We obsess over perfection. So we’re not the fastest and we’re not the cheapest, but according to our clients, we’re simply the best.” 

Now there’s so many unbelievably good things that are happening in these headlines. Where do I start? First of all, we’re using a high level of power, precision passion. Okay. So that’s getting checked off. We’re talking about, uh, well, let me give you this. You wanna talk about price conditioning, listen to this. “We’re stickler for details. We obsess over of perfection. So we’re not the fastest and we’re not the cheapest. According to our clients, we’re simply the best.” Now this is where I pause. And I have to make a disclaimer because a lot of you hearing this are gonna say, “Okay, great. But that doesn’t, that doesn’t say what we do. That’s not what we’re all about. We would never say that.”

Yeah. I know because this is not your company. This is their company. Point at the shower head that you actually have. If you don’t have a big, old shower head, don’t point at the shower head. Every individual company is going to have their own individual identity. It’s like a fingerprint. 

Now I’m gonna talk to you here in just a second about how to create your own identity. But for now, I’m just giving you an example. Enjoy it. This is really, really good stuff. There’s a picture of the owner. His name is Steve Nash, not the basketball one, the guy that owns this company. And here’s what it says. This is the text on the main page of the website. “Does it really matter how a remodeler feels about remodeling? It’s kind of a weird question. I know, but I think it’s an extremely important one. I started this company because I absolutely love remodeling. My father and grandfather were both were remodeling contractors right here in Ithaca. And I began working for them when I was just nine years old. It’s all I’ve ever known. And all I ever wanted to do. I continued working with my father throughout high school and went on to construction college in 1988, shortly thereafter in 1992, I started this company with a dream of creating, literally the world’s greatest remodeling company. I recruited a dream team of professionals who focus on two things and two things only quality work and customer satisfaction.”

Now, again, disclaimer, this is their identity, not yours. I’m not suggesting that you cut and paste and use this. I’m suggesting that you understand the principle. The principle is to identify what it is that you’re good it at, and then communicate it with power, precision and passion so that people know who you are, how you’re different, why you’re better and what they can expect when they do business with you. 

Now, if you go back to this example at the very end, this is after all these headlines, this is after all of this unbelievable, strong, powerful language. Here’s what it says. 

“We focus on two things in two things, only quality work in customer satisfaction.” 

Now, if you were to just create this website and say, “We’re all about two things, quality work and customer satisfaction,” they are platitudes. 

However, when you embed them and you put them at the end of a conversation about “not done until you say it’s done” deliberate, measured, absolutely on purpose, stickler for details, obsess of a perfection, not the fastest, not the cheapest, we’re the best, does it matter how you feel about it? “I’ve been doing this since I was nine years old, I went to construction college. I worked for my father, my grandfather. Here’s why I wanted to create the best in the world: Quality and satisfaction.”

See, it’s powerful. It checks all the boxes of the definition of identity, which are, and I repeat: words, phrases and images articulated with power, precision and passion that instantly definitively communicate who you are, how you’re different and better, and what customers can expect when doing business with you. 

Now heres what I wanna do, I wanna pivot and I wanna talk about how to implement this. This will take just a few minutes that we’re gonna wrap up. I want to go through something with you called the Five Pillars of Identity, the Five Pillars of Identity. 

Now there’s a graphic that I’ve prepared and it’s on the Marketing Matters podcast page. There’s a link to it in the, uh, description of podcast, in the show note. So go ahead and click on that. If you wanna see it, but if you’re driving or exercising, I understand you’re probably not in a position where you can click on that. 

It’s there If you want to go check it out later is all I’m trying to say. 

Now here’s what the Five Pillars of Identity are. There are five different areas that you can create your identity from. Now. I’m gonna tell you what the five are and then I’m gonna go through and give them to you in detail. 

The first one is your products, okay? Are your products different and better and differentiated than other company’s products, your products that’s number one, remember there’s five pillars. 

The second pillar is workmanship. How you actually do things and build things. 

Number three is what I call bedside manner. This is how you treat people, okay? This is a service issue. 

Number four is core values. This is what your company is all about. 

And then number five is what I call culture and reputation. 

Okay? So the five, again, in order: your products, workmanship, bedside manner, core values, and then culture and reputation. 

Now under each of these five headers of these “Five Pillars of Identity” there are about 10 to 12 sub-points that you can choose from that you can base your identity on. 

Now, you don’t have to choose from these ones that are on this list, but it’s a good head start for you to look at this and say, okay, what is it that our company is all about? 

So I’m gonna give you each of these. I’m gonna go through it fairly quickly. Again, I’m gonna to encourage you to go to the show notes and go to the link and find this graphic called the five pillars of identity. So here’s what they are for your products. Okay? Ready? 

Your products: stronger, durable, more energy efficient, better looking, more colors, more secure operates, better, easier, better selection, manufacture, warranty, brand names, more effective, last longer, tighter fit, heavy duty. 

Okay. So the idea here is you look down this list and you say, okay, as it relates to products, how is it that our company is differentiated? What is our shower head that we really wanna point at as it relates to products? Is  it that they’re stronger and more durable? That they’re more efficient, that they’re better looking, et cetera, going through that whole list. I’m not gonna repeat it again. I understand it’s a long list and there’s five lists that I’m going through here, but I want you to stick with me on this because it’s really important. 

Okay. Let’s go to workmanship. 

Here’s what the identity points are that you can choose from under the header, the pillar of workmanship, no cutting corners, attention to detail done, right the first time slowing down for quality, quality materials, experience worker oversight, no subcontractors, training, installation standards, warranties. 

Okay. So again, the idea here is, as it relates to workmanship and your company, what is the shower head that you really wanna point at? Is it that your company doesn’t cut corners, is it that you have a tremendous attention to detail? Is that you do things right the first time. And some of you are listening to this and saying to yourself, “Well, we do all those things, Rich.” That’s fine. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to look at these Five Pillars of Identity, and I want you to choose the top three from each pillar that most closely map to your business. Okay? 

So under products: stronger, efficient, better looking, colors, more secure, et cetera. I want you to go to that list. I want you to look at it and I want you to think which three map most closely to your business. Okay. Shower-head, workmanship. I just went through that. Let’s go to bedside manner. 

This is category three, pillar number three, bedside manner. Here’s some of the identity points: being punctual communication, accurate quotes, no sales pressure, no pricing games, cleaning up after yourself, your worker appearance, hiring standards, being kind and courteous. Listening, respect, professionalism, finishing on time and on budget. These are some of the identity points under bedside manner. Again, choose the top three that most closely map to your business. 

Let’s go to the fourth pillar core values. Now the idea here is: what are the core values that your business runs on? What these should be the DNA of your company. Integrity, respect, compassion, teamwork, enthusiasm, accountability, trustworthiness, friendliness, reliability, consumer advocacy, trust, loyalty, service. And again, I want you to go through that list and I want you to decide which three most closely map to your business. 

Okay? So we’ve gone through the first four identity pillars, products, workmanship, bedside manner, core values. 

Here’s the fifth one, culture and reputation. And here’s some of the points that are under that: company culture, community outreach, reputation, financial stability, origin stories, online reviews, financing, awards, and accolades associations, the history or heritage of your company, promises that you make employees spotlights. Okay? These all go under the header of cultured reputation. 

Look, it’s a podcast. I get it. It’s hard to hear those lists and write ’em down. And maybe you’re trying to listen, you know, go back and listen again. I’m putting a link on the show notes. You can find this graphic that says the five pillars of identity. And here’s what I want you to do. I want you to go through each of the five pillars and find the three points that most closely map to your business. 

So what you’ve done now, if you actually do that exercise is that you’ve identified what you want your identity to be based on you’ve identified identity points. Now, if you chose three from each of the five categories, that’s going to give you about 15 identity points. Now look, if you’ve got fewer or more, that’s okay, here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to take these and you’re going to start to integrate them into your marketing. 

Now, there’s something I wanna share with you called the Trust Pyramid. Okay, I want you to envision what the Trust Pyramid looks like. Think of a triangle. So guess that’s, kind of, a pyramid sounds better than the Trust Triangle, but whatever, the Trust Pyramid, and it’s got five areas that are horizontal. At the very bottom, it says identity points. Okay. So this is the foundation of the pyramid identity points. 

The identity points are the things that we just identified. These are the 15 or so identity points that you just identified in each of the five pillars of identity. Okay. Right above that are these following sections, right above it is: stories, examples, and comparisons. Above that, social proof. Above that, evidence and above that, at the very top, in the little triangle at the top of the pyramid is personal experience. 

Now here’s what you’re going to do. You’ve got your identity points. You’ve already identified them. If you go through this exercise on the bottom of the pyramid, okay. Identity points. That’s the foundation right above that stories, examples and comparisons. Now here’s the key. This is where the magic happens. And I want you to pay really close attention to me right now. What you wanna do is take an individual identity point that you’ve chosen off of the list and I want you to come up with a story, example, or comparison how you actually perform as it relates to that thing. 

So for example, if you choose out of bedside manner, no sales pressure, well then here’s what you need to do. You need to explain what it means to have no sales pressure. Tell a story about what it’s like when there is sales pressure or give a comparison about other companies that apply sales pressure so that people can understand it. 

What we’re doing is we’re creating the building blocks to be able to create your identity. 

Let me give you an example. One of my clients is called Solid State Construction. They have an identity point that’s very important to them. It’s the one I just mentioned, it’s no sales pressure. And when I was talking to them, they say that, “Hey, there is a lot of high pressure salesman in this industry.”

They primarily do siding and roofing. Siding’s their number one, roofing’s their number two. And they said that the high pressure sales is a real problem. In fact, they told me they’ve created a phrase that they call ‘sales gangster’ to describe their competitors, hyper aggressive salespeople. They call ’em sales gangsters. So here’s what we did. 

We took that information and we created a little blog post and we put it on their website. And on that blog post, it says, it’s got a definition like you’d seen a dictionary sales gangster. And then it says, noun, a remodeling salesperson with a mobster mentality who uses underhanded sales tricks, high pressure and deceit to force you to buy the last person you’d ever wanna invite to your home. The total opposite of a solid state construction project consultant, see diagrams below. For example, now notice we aren’t calling out any specific competitor by name. 

That’s not the idea. It’s just to help people understand. Here’s what you can expect. If you don’t have us come to your house, you might encounter this thing called a sales gangster. And then we created a little diagram.

It’s kind of a cartoon illustration, and it has this sort of cheesy looking guy and it says “Anatomy of a Sales Gangster” and then below that it’s got a line pointing to his eyes. Then it says, “Eyes sizes you up like a lion, preying on a gazelle.” 

And then there’s a line pointing to his watch. It says, “Watch loves to waste your time with three hour appointments.”

A line pointing to his mouth “Tries to talk you into buying. Even if you aren’t ready.”

And then a line pointing to his arm, “Relentlessly attempts to strong arm you into a sale.”

And then there’s a line to his rear end, it says, “Firmly plants on your couch until you give up and say, yes.”

And as you scroll down on this blog post there’s another picture illustration, same thing of a very friendly looking gentleman and it says “Anatomy of a Solid State project consultant.” 

There’s a line pointing to his ears, “listens to you to understand what it is you want to accomplish mouth discusses your needs and provides expert advice. Without the fast talking sales games.” 

Then something pointing to his hand, “Guides you to the perfect products for your taste and budget.”

Then there’s a line pointing to his watch, “Is considerate of your time and never draws things out.”

And then there’s finally lines pointing to his legs, “Steps back if you need to think things over,” there’s a little bit of text after that, that explains what that is and “Invites people to set an appointment.” 

Now here’s what you can do with this. You can take and you can turn this into a TV ad or a radio ad. It’s a blog post. You can send it out via text message to people that have set appointments with you. This is how you take and actually implement an identity. You first identify the identity point, and in this case, one of their first 15 or so was no sales pressure, and then you use an illustration. Remember the trust pyramid at the bottom is the identity points. And then the stories, examples, and comparisons, and that’s what that was. Okay. 

What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to build a trust pyramid that at the bottom has the identity and it has the stories and it has the comparisons. So at the top, remember I said it was personal experience. We want it to be the case that when you actually show up to their house, that everything that they thought and everything that they learned from your marketing, from your website, from your advertisements, from everything that they’ve encountered from you leads to a personal experience that is supported by the identity points that you’ve been telling them about. 

It’s like the Holiday Inn Express, pointing at the shower head, and then when you finally get in and you turn on that shower, boom, it delivers and you notice it and you say, “Wow, what a great shower head.”

Whereas if they hadn’t been pointing, you probably don’t notice. if Solid State Construction doesn’t point at their friendly salespeople, that aren’t sales gangsters, well, then you probably don’t notice and they don’t get any credit for it because that’s just human nature. 

I’ll give you one more example, then we’re done. Okay. 

This is a client called Exterior Pro. These guys do windows and siding and roofing. For this one, we went to the identity pillar called core values. And we chose the identity point of integrity. Now, I want you to think about this. This is something that almost nobody does. They don’t talk about their core values because it doesn’t seem like it’s something that people want to hear about. 

But if you communicate with power, precision, and passion, then it’s going to move the  needle, it’s going to make a difference. And this is a little story. Again, remember stories, examples, comparisons. This is a story about a time when their roofers stepped on and ruined flowers in their customer’s yard. 

So we tell the story, the headline says “We paid $629 for new flowers after our roofers ruined her old ones.” 

Sub-headline: “Our roofing crew damage to customers, very valuable flowers. So we foot the bill for new ones.”

And then you read this story and it’s just written out in story format:

“Who knew a few flowers could cost more than a sleek 60 inch HD TV, the latest iPhone or glass or glass seats at a St. Louis blues game. I didn’t at least not until I had to pay $629 to replace some flowers that my roofing crew accidentally damaged on the job. 

Here’s the story. We were replacing a roof for a woman here in the St. Louis Metro area. Before we start any job, we inform the customer that landscaping close to the house can get damaged while we work, we do everything we can to avoid this, like laying down protective tarps, moving what we can, et cetera, but accidents occasionally happen. And on this occasion, a really expensive accident happened. 

The customer had some flowers planted around her home, but they weren’t just any flowers. They were special. 100 year old flowers. The customer’s grandmother planted many years ago. While we were working, some debris fell from the roof and landed in the flowers, damaging some of them. To make matters worse, our suppliers stepped down on the flowers in a different area when delivering the roofing materials. Yikes.

 Naturally the customer was very upset. And so were we, our bonehead mistake caused this homeowner unnecessary grief. 

We felt absolutely terrible naturally. So after we replaced the customer’s roof, we set out to make things right by any means necessary. We told her to purchase everything she needed: landscaping, nursery fees, so on, and then send the bill to us. The flowers held high sentimental value to this customer, so replacing them was the least we could do. Fast forward a few weeks, I received a bill for $629. I know as much about flowers as I do quantum mechanics. So when I got a bill for $629, I almost fell outta my chair. But you know what? After the initial sticker shock, I happily broke out the checkbook and wrote it, wrote the check. It didn’t matter that the flowers cost more than a big screen TV or glass seats to the blues game. All that matters was making the customer happy again. In the end all was well, 600 bucks couldn’t bring back the original flowers, but it did make amends. The customer appreciated the gesture and our willingness to take responsibility. “

Okay, this is where we’re gonna end up right here. I want you to understand what’s happening. 

Let’s review: your marketing is full of platitudes. It makes you look like everybody else. You’re the green apple among a many green apples. What you’ve gotta do is you’ve gotta identify what it is that you’re really, really good at pull. Point at the shower head so that people will notice it. I gave you a formula for doing this. I said, go to these five pillars of identity and choose three from each list. Again, you can find it in the show notes, the link to that graphic. And then once you found those 15 identity points, go through each of them and find stories, examples, and comparison, and then tell those stories, start with a blog post. 

And then you can take that blog post and you can expand it out to an advertisement radio, television internet. You can put it on your website, wherever it is you wanna put it. Send text messages out to your customers. 

This is how you separate and differentiate yourself from your competitors. This is the concept called identity. It’s important, everything that we talk about in the future on this podcast is going to have an overtone of identity. It’s going to come up over and over and over again. We’re going to talk about TV, radio, home-shows, all these different advertising and marketing things. You name it, we’re gonna talk about it, and I’m going to continually come back and say, “Where’s your identity here? Let’s get your identity in this. Let’s make sure that this is infused with your identity.”

If you can communicate who you are, how you’re different, why you’re better and help people to understand what they can expect when they do business with you and you can do all of that with power, precision and passion, I promise you, this is a winning formula. Your marketing is going to be outstanding. 

Marketing in its essence is all about storytelling. He who tells the better story, or she who tells the better story, is going to win. You’ve just gotta tell the story. That’s what identity is all about.

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