An Interview With Heidi Cohen
What’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing and why is it so important?
Nothing will accelerate your brand more than achieving Simple Clarity. This is the ability to describe your business and what makes it unique in ten words or less.
Simple Clarity is a unique from your standard elevator pitch, because it’s a very condensed and practical description of your business.
It’s like putting your brand on the label of a file folder in your customers’ minds. The label doesn’t provide detailed notes of the folder’s contents, and it doesn’t have any super benefit statements.It’s simply a reference point.
Simple Clarity is a tool to help your customers identify your brand and file it away so they can retrieve it later. And the clearer the label, the easier it is for your customers to categorize, store, and retrieve.
When you achieve Simple Clarity it makes your brand easier to remember, easier to refer, and easier to talk about. And it gives your brand credibility, because you can speak about it with authority.
But finding the words that stick can be a challenge. Surprisingly few companies make their brand easy to understand. They struggle to clearly explain their business, and this leaves customers confused. And when a customer is confused it slows them down, makes them ask more questions, or even motivate them to consider another option.
The ability to express what your company does simply and succinctly separates your business from the herd. You will see the results of Simple Clarity in your sales funnel: more referrals, faster sales cycles, and happier customers.
What was the inspiration for your book? What is the key concept behind your book?
Sticky Branding is the book I wish I had access to when I rebranded my family’s business a decade ago.
In 2004 my world was falling apart around me. I had just joined my family’s business — an IT staffing company — and the wheels were falling off the bus.
You could see the carnage in our sales. What used to take our sales guys a week to achieve was taking them a month. And more and more we were forced to compromise our values and take on poor clients — clients that were unprofitable, unethical, and unpleasant to work with — to keep the business going.
To turnaround the company we analyzed our business, our market, and what it would take to succeed in our industry. Our findings shocked us. It wasn’t our salespeople who were failing us, it was our brand. Our customers couldn’t distinguish us from the competition.
That realization led to a major rebranding of our business, and was the catalyst that brought me into a decade long study of how small- and medium-sized companies grow remarkable brands — what I call Sticky Brands.
Sticky Branding is a branding playbook that provides ideas, stories, and exercises to help you grow your brand.
What do you want readers to take away from your book or be different as a result of reading it?
Growing a Sticky Brand is a choice. It’s a choice to stand out and be remarkable. It’s a choice to build meaningful relationships with your customers. It’s a choice to forge your own path and innovate in your industry. It’s a choice to stand out, attract customers, and grow an incredible brand.
My hope for readers is they make those choices. Any company of any size can grow a Sticky Brand, but it starts with a commitment.
If you make that commitment — if you choose to grow a Sticky Brand — you will:
- Attract more customers
- Sell more faster
- Inspire employee engagement
- Become immune to the competition
- Earn higher profits
How do you describe yourself professionally?
What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career? How did they influence you? Your selections can cover any topic.
Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore
This was one of the first marketing books I read. It opened my eyes on how to build a niche market, and how to introduce new concepts into established markets. It also reinforced a long held belief that a brand cannot be all things to all people.
Beyond Buzz by Lois Kelly
I pick up Lois Kelly’s book every year. It was game changing for me. It introduced the idea of building a brand with a strong point of view, and scaling relationships and brand awareness through content. It taught me conversations make brands sticky.
Selling Is Dead by Marc Miller
I am a sales guy at heart. Selling Is Dead is one of the best sales books I have ever read. It’s dense, but really insightful. It talks about how companies have to adapt their selling to fit their market; you can’t sell a commodity the same way you do a new concept. The book’s approach to selling new concepts has influenced my approach to marketing.
What is something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?
I have a slight anime and manga addiction. I watch more anime (Japanese cartoons) than I do “normal” TV shows.
I love the stories. I love the artwork. I will often get hooked on an anime show, and then follow the manga (the comics) to go even deeper into the stories.
Is there a piece of content, a social media campaign or a marketing campaign that you worked on that you’re particularly proud of?
A very recent accomplishment: Sticky Branding beat Oprah!
Sticky Branding launched on January 10, 2015 worldwide, and promptly sold out. I couldn’t believe it. Within hours all of the hardcopies of the book were sold out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indigo.
The booksellers had underestimated me and my community. They thought “this was just another branding book.” We proved them wrong. The next week Sticky Branding was a Globe and Mail Bestseller. It was #1 in Canadian Non-Fiction and #2 in Non-Fiction. It beat Oprah’s book, What I Know For Sure.
Beating Oprah is going on my resume. 🙂
The reason the book has done so well has a lot to do with the Sticky Branding community. This is my other major accomplishment. My LinkedIn Group is one of the largest branding groups on the site with almost 40,000 members. It was the community’s support that propelled Sticky Branding onto the bestsellers’ lists.
Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you’d like to share?
Nope, we’ve covered a lot of ground. Thank you for the opportunity to share a piece of my story!
Name: Jeremy Miller
Company: Sticky Branding
Book: Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers & Grow an Incredible Brand
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