"...what makes it art is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making, something risky, something human. Art is not in the eye of the beholder, it's in the soul of the artist."
The process of creating anything starts inside. You must first know yourself. In this first episode, we explore why it’s important to identify your unique value — your own or your business — and ways to find the things that separate you from others.
Joe: Hi, there. I’m Joe Dudeck, President and founder of Keyhole Marketing.
Shannon: And I’m Shannon Jirik. I work for Keyhole as the Assistant Brand Manager.
Joe: And this is Metaphorically Speaking, a podcast that explores the mysterious side of marketing.
Joe: Thanks for joining us for season one of Metaphorically Speaking.
Shannon: They made it through the trailer.
Joe: They did. Thanks for sticking around if you’re still here. For this first season, we wanted to tackle a topic that I think more small businesses should pay attention to, but I think a lot of them miss, and it’s the idea of creating your own business story. What is the narrative that you’re telling people or not telling people? What should you be telling them? And so we really want to tackle how does one craft and create that story?
Shannon: Yeah, and we really believe that this sets the ground work for most everything moving forward and we love talking about it, we’re excited to explore it and just chat together about what we’ve learned from it. And today we’re going to kind of flip it inward and really just identify who you are and explore why it’s so important to identify who you are and what makes you different (i.e., your unique value) and what makes you stand out from other people.
Joe: Mmhm. So you might hear, over the next several episodes, how we compare the process of creating your story to the way an artist creates art. They don’t just pop into the studio, sit there, and then walk out with some piece of art. There’s a process they walked into that even led them to that decision, to that craft.
Shannon: That’s a real prodigy right there, to just be able to do that.
Joe: That’s right. Yeah. I’m not there. So we’re trying to compare how does an artist create that? How does that process start? Who do they think about? What do they think about? What should they think about? And then, when it’s time to put it out there for the world to see, how do they do that? So there’s a lot of parallels from that to crafting your own business story, so you’ll see a lot of things that we compare in that process.
So I referenced it in the trailer about how we want to walk through these podcasts with a sense of intention, where we’re not just diving into the content, sending you on your way in five minutes, but we want to spend some time a little bit upfront on each one, collecting ourselves, kind of having a moment of silence, a chance to inhale a moment or a quote or a song lyric, something to help set the stage for us mentally and physically so we’re prepared to get into the content. And then we’ll finish off each episode with a sense of motion, like what should we do with this information? What are some next steps?
Shannon: What can you take away?
Joe: Yeah exactly. So for this first reflection I thought there was no better place to start than Seth Godin, of course.
Shannon: Your personal hero.
Joe: That’s right. He had a great quote that I thought really tied in well to this conversation about creating art and, in our sense, creating your own business story. He says, “Art is what we call the thing an artist does. It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it, what matters, what makes it art is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making, something risky, something human. Art is not in the eye of the beholder, it’s in the soul of the artist.” And I thought that’s… because I’ve worked with different clients over the years, I think the process of creating your own business story and putting that kind of piece of art out there is hard and it’s difficult and it can be challenging and you can be confused in the process, but it’s so necessary and it really is something that lives inside you as a business owner within your business and it’s worth getting out.
Shannon: I can see why he’s your personal hero.
Shannon: I think we need to take a few minutes of silence just to process through that.
Joe: We can do that. Why don’t you hit pause now on your podcast?
Shannon: I just think it’s really important. I mean even for me, because I wouldn’t define myself in the normal term “artist,” you know? As a young person, I always thought I had to be a painter or something like that to be called an artist. So, I’m just excited to kind of get an understanding that art is everywhere, we can all be artists and we can do that in our business.
Joe: Mmhm. Yeah.
Shannon: So I kind of want to kick start this conversation by going back to a personal experience that you have had, right on the front lines of really working through your business story. You did a recent rebrand with Keyhole Marketing, and I’m wondering if you can just kind of share some of that story, talk about your recent experience.
Joe: Yeah. Last year we just did a new logo, new colors, new website, but that really came on the heels of a bigger conversation at the beginning of the year, at the end of November. At the end of 2017, I lost a larger client who’d been with me since the beginning, so I knew them inside and out, they’d work with me for a long time, and it was tough to see them go. But it left me with a lot of questions of who am I as a business owner? What is Keyhole Marketing? What are we offering? Because now I had to tell that story to the next client who was going to fill that person’s shoes and how do we share that? What is our story? What’s our unique value? Who are we serving? Who should we even be having this conversation with? So some of those questions.
So, for me personally, I started it with a sense of, just a whiteboarding session where I explored who am I as a person? What makes me unique? What’s my unique value proposition? What are the things that I bring to the table personally? What are some of my strengths? So I looked at things like strength finders and Myers–Briggs to see what are those things that I’m strong with and then started to extrapolate that out a little bit and think about how this applies to the business of Keyhole and how do our clients experience some of the same things that I have personally within me?
Shannon: So what do you mean by whiteboarding? What did that look like for you?
Joe: So it was just really, it was a whiteboard.
Shannon: A literal whiteboard.
Joe: And just wrote up a ton of terms, so a ton of things that were positives about who I am, which is a tough thing to do sometimes, it was a tough thing for me to do. Sometimes it’s easier for me to identify the weaknesses that I have versus the strengths, so it was a hard exercise but a good exercise for me just to see what do I have within me that I may be offering to people or I may not? And what should I be offering? So then just kind of helped hone those messages down to get a better sense of, again, who is Keyhole? Who is Joe?
Shannon: Right. And why did you feel that it was important to do that at that point in time? Or to find your unique value?
Joe: Yeah. It definitely came on the heels of that client leaving, yeah, that sort of incited it because now I needed to draw up new business, there’s some business development stuff I hadn’t been doing for while. It was out of necessity in some ways, but I think it should have been done before then, it shouldn’t have needed that to happen for me to spend the time doing that kind of work. And I felt like, again, as I’m trying to position myself for the next customer, I would need to understand why would they buy from me and not somebody else down the street? What’s so important about my business in their mindset that they would choose me to be their next marketing provider? So that’s where I was just like, if I don’t have an answer to that, then I don’t know, A, who I’m targeting or what are the things that they need to hear along the way.
Shannon: Right. So how would you recommend somebody start this process if they’re ready to dive in?
Joe: Yeah. I think where it doesn’t start is in this compare and contrast game that we like to do, looking at competitors or other businesses in this space and seeing what are we better at than, or how do they excel from us? How should we overcome them? Because I think when you’re trying to find out your unique value DNA, it doesn’t live out there, it doesn’t live within somebody else or what they’re doing, it lives within you, so that makes you different — your unique value. So spend more time holding a mirror up to yourself or your business and explore, ask some of those basic questions of…what do you make? What do you sell? Who do you serve at a high level? And who do you play against? Again, just a name of some people and not even exploring what they do.
And then you go a little deeper and you kind of explore, again, holding a mirror up to your business and figuring out… why did we get started? How did that happen? Who founded it? And then why are you in this profession, why does it matter? And sort of what’s your purpose? You kind of explore, through these questions you’re getting deeper and deeper into finding out what is your purpose? Why are you even doing this in the first place?
And then you can get into, eventually get into sort of those questions of… what makes you better? Questions like anything particularly unique about your product or service that stands out? Is there something that you can say that your competitors can’t say? Is there something that’s difficult for somebody else to imitate and replicate? So you get, as you explore deeper and deeper through some of those questions, those are just some examples, but you can find some more. And I think that’s, again, looking more at yourself than somebody else. You’re just going to find out a lot more.
Shannon: Right. So what do you see as some dangers of not making this a priority or not doing this?
Joe: Yeah. For me, it came on the heels of this client losing, but also it was on the beginning part of when I brought you on board and I felt like, also, I needed to tell you sort of who is Keyhole and what are we about. And if you want to be part of this thing, these are some of the qualities that we care about. And, again, if all of that work had been done, especially when it was just me by myself, I mean I didn’t have to talk to anybody else, but it would not have empowered you well with how to do your job well and understand what are we committed to. So that was one thing.
And then really I think just people not knowing why should they buy from us, what makes us different (i.e., unique value), what makes us better? And they don’t know the benefits, they don’t understand maybe the problems that we solve for them, so some of that language wouldn’t be out there because I hadn’t done the work to do that.
Shannon: And we know we’re not the only marketers out there either, you know?
Joe: Right. Mmhm.
Shannon: So if you’re not exploring this then it is easy to get lost in a pool of people.
Joe: Exactly, yep.
Shannon: So what are some tangible ways that somebody could put this into practice for themselves or for their company?
Joe: Yeah, I think I heard a great phrase right around the same time too. This quote of can’t see the label from inside the jar, somebody told me that kind of when I was doing this whole process, and I thought that really resonated with me because I personally needed somebody else to ask me some of these questions. So sometimes if you’re a sole business owner, maybe you don’t have a team around you, for you to ask yourself those questions can be helpful, but what could really take it to another level is to have somebody else ask those questions. Because for you to spend the time to verbalize a response back to somebody that makes sense, that responds to the question–you’re doing the work of finding the answer that you might not normally do if you’re just answering in your own mind. If you do have a team, it’d be great to grab them and do some work with them. You can have fun with it, you know? You don’t have to just do a boring whiteboarding session like I did.
Shannon: It doesn’t have to be boring, you know?
Joe: It doesn’t have to be, no.
Shannon: It’s just what works for you.
Joe: So you could do some, have some playdough, bring some crayons in, do some painting.
Shannon: Back to the days of our youth.
Joe: Yes. And have some fun. Just explore with them, how do we… ask them some of the questions that we listed out earlier and let them answer through drawings or playdough or something like that. So it’d be interesting to see what they come up with.
And then of course I think one of the missed opportunities is asking your customers and your prospects directly. Sometimes we think we understand what their needs are, we think we understand what matters to them, but we don’t always go to them directly. So I think that’s a great place to start because obviously those are the people who need to hear the messages. And so what resonates with them? What are some of their pain points? So those are great places to go.
Shannon: Yeah, take advantage of that, for sure.
Joe: For sure. And then I think you should do this, I’d say every 2-3 years, just to kind of get a sense of what’s changed since the last time. So don’t feel like you’ve just done the work and now you’re done for life because you’ll enter a new marketplace, you’ll offer some new products or services, you’ll hire different talent, and the story will change. So you just want to spend some time maybe going through this again every couple of years.
Shannon: Yeah, that’s a good idea.
Joe: So, as we wind down this episode and we have this sense of motion or movement of what can we do with this information? And I kind of thought about it from a personal perspective. I might give away too much of myself in episode one, but my wife and I have gone to a therapist for a while, it’s been good for us and necessary for us but there was one exercise that the therapist suggested that I do and I thought it could be helpful for all of us in our own world, so it might help me to finally do this as well because I haven’t done it yet. But she suggested just for helping me to better understand who I am and what makes me different (i.e., unique value) and what factors, in some sense, created who I am, she asked me to write a letter to myself at some point when I was child. So me, as my adult self, would talk to 10-year-old Joe and let him know the things that you wish he would know back then. It could be a lot, there was no ground rules of how to say this or be on these lines, you could just speak to them.
And so there may be something that you would want to do personally as well. Maybe you want to speak to who you were five years ago as a business owner. What do you wish that person would have known? And, of course, you can’t go back in time and change those things, but it’s just that process for you to spend some time reflecting on who you are and what makes you different (i.e., your unique value) and what are some things that, again, as you verbalize back to that younger self–or younger version of your business–what are some things that you wish they would have known? And, by doing that, you’re just acknowledging the stuff that you’ve learned over the years, so it could be a good exercise.
Shannon: Yeah, that’s great.
Joe: I’m not going to necessarily commit to doing it on a personal level, but it could be a good exercise from a business perspective. And maybe one day I’ll actually do the work.
Shannon: One day we’ll get you to do it.
Joe: It’s hard. And that’s what we talked about, it’s a hard process, it’s tough to ask those questions, you almost don’t know what you’re going to discover, but I do know that it promises to be really rewarding once I put in the work, so hopefully you’ll do the same.
Shannon: I’ll think about it.
Shannon: So where do you go from here? We just want you to know that if you’re starting to explore this unique value conversation already or if you’ve been challenged to do that today, head to our website at keyholemarketing.us. For just kind of a low investment you can work through some of our blogs on this topic. Or if you’ve got specific questions and want to chat with us about this process, ask or send your questions to email@example.com… and let’s clarify, that is H-I at keyholemarketing.us.
Joe: We are moving to Colorado in the next couple of months, so we needed to clarify. That could be a lot of different things. So just it’s just H-I.
Joe: Thanks again so much for joining us on this first episode. Let us know if we can help you with your unique value proposition.