Why We Waited 3 Years Before Creating a Brand
Why did we wait three years to create a brand? Shouldn't that be the first thing you do when you start a business? Probably not! It's not what we did, and there are valid reasons for that. Because for years, we proved again and again that we could sell our product – even if it was ugly.
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SOME EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: (5:33) Why we finally decided to create a brand. (9:29) Why you should NOT create a brand as soon as you start your business. (11:10) How we started Email Marketing Heroes. (14:58) Focus on your offer first. (19:57) Fix what doesn't work before making it pretty. (21:26) The four things you need to focus on to make your business work. (23:40) Launching 'ugly' businesses. (27:47) Creating our brand - why now? (29:39) Why create a brand for our products and audience. (33:25) Subject line of the week.
Why we finally decided to create a brand
You may have noticed that a couple of months ago we finally decided to create a brand – we overhauled our entire branding. Our colours and fonts look different, and we've even had our first professional photo shoot together. Why? Because our previous branding looked significantly uglier than it does now.
Over the years of being in business, we've definitely seen people around us producing graphics that looked way better than ours did. But the problem is that neither of us has an eye for things like that. We’re good at communication, but we’re not designers.
When we first launched our business, branding wasn't our priority. We just wanted to get off the starting blocks – not to create a brand that looked nice. So when we launched Email Marketing Heroes all we had was a logo.
We ran a contest, and the person who submitted the best logo also came on board to work with us. She's an amazing designer, but she's not a branding expert. And as a result, over the last few years, we’ve been producing graphics that looked inconsistent. They were nice in isolation but didn’t fit with anything else. All the different elements of our business had a different vibe, and we felt our branding was disjointed and was getting worse with time.
Why you should NOT create a brand as soon as you start your business
Unfortunately, over the years we've also seen businesses with amazing branding go out of business. Why? Because they focused on the things that looked good or what they found naturally interesting, enjoyable, and easy for them – rather than what needed to be done to run a business and to keep it going.
Because we all have to make sales. We have to show up and give value to people. And we need to put out offers that are so interesting and valuable that people are willing to invest in them, so we can stay in business and help more people.
And there’s one really uncomfortable piece of advice we find ourselves dishing out a lot to our clients, which is to stop doing the thing you’re doing because it’s the wrong activity for you to be doing in your business right now. Your problem above and beyond anything else is to figure out how to make money. Once you have that nailed, then you can build around it.
How we started Email Marketing Heroes
When we started our business, we wanted to find out whether people would pay us to teach them email marketing and buy our campaigns. When we launched our membership The League, we didn’t know if people wanted a new email campaign every month – and that's one of our core propositions.
But figuring all of this out was our first aim – our aim then was not to create a brand. Could we build a thriving business based on something people want? Are our offers good enough? It’s not just what we sell and how. If Rob and Kennedy (the hypnotist and mind reader who teach a psychological approach to email marketing) sell email campaigns that you can swipe and use in your business along with coaching, will you buy it (regardless of how we package it)? That's what we tried to figure out.
And doing this was completely independent of any sales pages or any branding. Because it’s about the concept. Is it interesting? Does it get your attention? Is it valuable enough for you to pay a reasonable amount that’s a good economic fit for how we need to grow our business?
So that's what we did back in 2019 when we first launched. We focused on making $20-30k in sales with nothing more than a logo. And truthfully, could we have done it without even having that logo? Because if we could, then we could prove that the fundamentals were all there. If you can sell it when it’s ugly, you can sell it when it’s pretty.
And in the end, we didn’t create a brand until we’d made $600k in the last couple of years. And this year alone (2022) we'll be making over $1m in sales. We waited so long to create a brand because we first focused on how to understand our customers better to make more sales and become more valuable.
Focus on your offer first
If you can take the right offer, prove it, and sell it when it’s ugly, then you can sprinkle glitter on it later. For example, as we learnt from our friend Natalie (co-founder of BuzzFeed) having a pretty Instagram grid isn’t really that important. Sure, there’s an element to it. But if your content strategy is good, you can grow a massive audience regardless of how pretty it is. If you also have the ability to make it pretty, then it’s probably going to grow faster. But ultimately, if you have bad content or a bad offer that looks great, it'll never work. But if you have amazing offers, your business will still thrive even if it doesn’t look good.
So for years we put the branding off and focused on what was helping us have a business. And this is something we see a lot of people struggle with – they’re trying to solve the wrong problem for the wrong stage of their business. The first thing to do is to figure out what problems you have to solve for the stage where your business is.
We could have decided to never fix the brand. And we would have still continued to grow. Because we solve a problem. If you have an interesting and compelling hook to your offer, it will work and it will sell.
Fix what doesn't work before making it pretty
Your number one goal should be how to put money in your pockets so you can keep the business going and continue to serve people. Having a nice website and cool social graphics is fun. But if you start focusing on that first, you might be putting off creating a system for selling your product.
So, for example, if you have a webinar that isn’t converting well, you need to keep tweaking it until you make it better – until it starts converting more. Putting more people in front of it won’t help if it doesn't work. So improve it first and then put more people into it.
The four things you need to focus on to make your business work
The first thing you need to focus on to make sure your business makes you money is the offer.
- Can you position your product in such a way that people understand it and want it?
- Can you grab people’s attention enough that they’ll want to pay for it?
- Is your offer compelling enough for someone to get their credit card out and buy from you?
Once you've sorted your offer, you want to focus on the audience.
- Are you speaking to the right people?
Then you want to look at the logistics.
- Can you support the business model? Does it work?
- If you’re relying on having guest experts give a presentation every month inside your membership, will they do that for free? If you have to pay them, can you afford to?
- Can you get your business to operate the way you want it to from a systems point of view?
- Will it be worth the money or is it just impossible?
- In a nutshell, can you logistically run the business and scale it?
The last thing you want to focus on is the economics, which combines all of the above.
- Can you get the right people to pay you the right amount for long enough to cover the cost of running your business?
- Or is it going to cost you too much to manufacture your product?
- Does it mean you'll never be able to sell it at a price people are willing to pay?
- When you combine the audience and the logistics, will the economics work?
- Can you acquire customers to go into your audience cheaply enough that the offer will cover the cost and make the business work?
Launching ‘ugly' businesses
That's exactly what we did when we launched our Level Up mastermind in February 2022. We told people inside our membership, The League, that we were launching a mastermind without even having a name or a logo for it. We explained what it was, how many people we were going to take in, and how it would work. Does it surprise you that we didn’t even have a sales page? All we had was a Google Document and a concept, and we still sold it.
And that's how we've always launched our businesses. And also why we tell our clients that if something isn't working, it’s not about changing the graphics or the colours. It’s about fixing the offer. Present the offer and sell the product profitably without it being pretty. If you can do that, the branding is secondary.
We believe that most products will eventually sell if you can persevere with dialling the offer, the audience, the logistics, and the economics. But not all of them will. We’ve had this happen to us too when we decided to launch a membership for magicians. A few months in, we realised that the logistics of making that product didn’t work. And that's because it relied on members (the magicians) to contribute their tricks and ideas to the audience. And we couldn’t make that happen. So we decided we weren’t willing to persevere and re-gig the offer again and again. We just scrapped the idea, and that's okay. Because if a business isn’t making sales consistently, you can’t scale it.
Creating our brand – why now?
So we waited three years – until we got the stage where we're on track to make $1m sales – before creating our new brand. You now know why and what we were focusing on before this.
So why now? Because we wanted to. Because it's a bit of fun for us. There are plenty of things we could do with the $10k we invested in our rebranding. And a few years ago, putting that money in our pockets would have been our priority. But now we're at the stage where we get personal satisfaction out of watching our branding look better. We probably won't get a huge ROI for that money. In fact, had we continued to run our ‘ugly version of the brand’ it would still continue to sell, and we'd still be growing.
So if you’ve been guilty in the past of spending time, energy, and money on making things pretty and thinking it will help you convert better – that’s not going to happen.
Why create a brand for our products and audience
We're at a point in our business where we want our new brand to represent and show in a visual sense how good our products are. Because people do judge a book by its cover. But it doesn’t matter how good your cover is if the book doesn’t do what it says on it.
We know that everyone who’s used our products received the most amazing customer experience and the best training. But looking from the outside, you couldn't tell how incredibly good our products are. We waited until we made a significant volume of sales before changing our branding, but we've now designed a brand for the products that we know people are willing to buy. We’re not doing this for products that people may or may not buy in the future. We're building a brand around our audience – the people who buy from us. We're building a brand that speaks to them and their problems – we're not taking a guess after creating a customer avatar on a piece of paper.
Martin and Lyndsay from Jammy Digital, who did our branding, happen to be our customers as well. They know our business, and we were able to tell them that these are the thousands of customers we already have and who buy from us. And that’s powerful.
So what are you doing to make sales? This is what we’re asking all our clients when they tell us their offer or their business isn’t working. What is the activity you’re doing that makes sales? Because that should always be your priority. And then you can have the luxury to create a brand.
We cover this and much more inside our membership, The League, where we help you sell stuff, even if it looks ugly. We show you exactly how to position your offer and how to sell it through emails.
Subject line of the week
This week's subject line is “Crushed by a piano”. Why did it work? First of all, it spells catastrophe (carton-level catastrophe, in fact), and it's also exaggerated. Obviously, people will assume Rob hasn’t really been crushed by a piano. But they’ll open the email to read and find out.
This was a story about Rob’s friend Gary, who asked Rob to move a piano. Being crushed by it is definitely a terrible outcome. So what awful scenario can you come up with that has to do with your story? When you think of one, paint that picture in the subject line and describe what could have happened. The more catastrophic, the better. Try it out!
Useful Episode Resources
FREE list of the top 10 books to improve your email marketing
If you want to write better emails, come up with better content, and move your readers to click and buy, here's how. We put together this list of our Top 10 most highly recommended books that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we happened upon, which have been game-changing for us). Grab your FREE list here.
Join our FREE Facebook group
If you want to chat about how you can maximise the value of your email list and make more money from every subscriber, we can help! We know your business is different, so come and hang out in our FREE Facebook group, the Email Marketing Show Community for Course Creators and Coaches. We share a lot of training and resources, and you can talk about what you're up to.
Try ResponseSuite for $1
This week's episode is sponsored by ResponseSuite.com, the survey quiz and application form tool that we created specifically for small businesses like you to integrate with your marketing systems to segment your subscribers and make more sales. Try it out for 14 days for just $1.
Join The League Membership
Not sick of us yet? Every day we hang out in our amazing community of Email Marketing Heroes. We share all of our training and campaigns and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you're looking to learn how to use psychology-driven marketing to level up your email campaigns, come and check out The League Membership. It's the number one place to hang out and grow your email marketing. Best news yet? You can apply everything we talk about in this show.
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