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The Top Branding Mistake Small Businesses Make

There is a crucial error businesses and experts make when wanting to find the right brand for themselves, and if we don’t figure this out we will always miss just a little bit with our marketing.  If we can figure this one problem out, our message just really lines up directly with what interests our customer and we ultimately grow our business and have much more success.

Branding, in concept, is really about “you” and so as businesses we all want to define “us.” Direct response marketing, in contrast, is actually that shift over to what “they” care about and making your business about the customer and less about defining “you.”

Here’s the hard truth:  They don’t care about you.

They don’t care about you, or your company, or your product.  They care about them.  Don’t be upset, they don’t care about me either.  This is a universal response to having a self.  We care about ourselves.

OK, back to branding.

You could call branding “distraction marketing.”  Brands actually distract us, and end up in places where we do not ask for them, billboards and magazines etc. Direct Response Marketing has to begin with a distraction but ultimately asks the customer to say “Yes, that’s me.” They give a direct response, and choose to connect with your company.

Brands are asking you to “make a decision later.”  They want you to remember them and later to make a decision. Like with Tylenol, who is trying to stay in your head so that later on you will think of them when you are making a purchase at the store. But for people online, it’s not as effective to brand them for a later decision, we want them to actually take action now.  Direct response is looking for action now as opposed to branding and idea for a later time.

So how do we really get into the head of our customer? How do we get away from caring so much about our own branding, and get over to what they really care about?  We need to be the person we are trying to talk to and really craft our marketing towards who they are and not who we are.

There are 3 steps:

  • Step 1 Close your eyes and imagine being that ideal customer and having the problem that your product can solve.
  • Step 2 Describe what they are feeling. Write down their issues, concerns, complaints, frustrations, etc.
  • Step 3 Craft your marketing message from there.  Make your blog posts, any ads or headlines come from these frustrations.  Learn to “brand yourself” by coming from these problems and no longer from what you are about.

Basically learn to LIVE on/in/around these customer issues. Because that’s what THEY most care about.

What if you did this in your business? What if you only spoke to people that are having such a hard time that they are ready to buy right now, instead of getting everyone “out there” to know you? Branding is about getting everyone to know you but it doesn’t matter if everyone knows, it only matters if they know you, and they are going to buy.

If you would like more information on how to begin a Direct Response campaign and ultimately come up with a sequence that sells, or what I call a “Sequence for Strangers” you can. Have fun!

About Rob Scott

Master coach, teacher, and lover of presence. I shift people's minds, and help them massively transform. Get in touch here.


  1. Rob, this is EXACTLY what I needed to read, hear and feel today. Thank you for this post!

    • You are soooo welcome Renee. I hope all is well. I know you wanted to connect. Let me know if I can help with anything. :)

  2. Scott, thanks for this. I know what it’s like to spin into a vortex of distraction by endlessly trying to perfect “my” branding. Thank you for these three points.

  3. Thanks Rob. This comes at a time when I’m having to refocus my coaching to guys who I originally was drawn to working with but let yet another “bright, shiny object” distract me.

    Perfect timing…


  4. Rob,

    So true, succinct and to the point. Really nails the concept home. Thank you!


  5. I care about you!

  6. Anthony Obuegbe says

    Wow! Now I understand branding better. It’s like what advertisers do: they make themselves so striking that they remain in your mind after everything else has faded.

    Your post gives hints to a bigger picture. Thanks!

  7. what about luxury brands???
    They make you care about what they are. They propose you products you don’t really need, they don’t “put themselves into your shoes”, they feed you with dreams and desire…and don’t tell me they don’t succeed!

    • No, you’re very right, luxury brands do succeed. But I would suggest that the pain they are implying is that of “just being normal” or “being like the ‘joneses'”. If all your friends are driving Lexus and Mercedes, don’t roll up in a Saturn. That’s the pain luxury brands are playing too.

      But what I’m saying is not that branding doesn’t work. Branding works really well. It’s just not as useful for small business owners to worry about it when they can do MUCH better working on Direct Response marketing instead. Let the big companies spend their money branding, and put your focus on creating a good direct response campaign.

      My 2 cents anyway. :) (Thanks for the thoughts!)

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