Helping Young Entrepreneurs at Express Night with Jeune Chambre de Commerce de Montréal

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 11.26.42 PMI had the honour of being asked to represent the marketing community last night at the Entrepreneur Express Night hosted by the Jeune Chambre de Commerce de Montréal.

Attendees could signup up in advance for 1 of 10 round tables, each including an expert from a professional field with a predetermined topic of discussion.

The topic of discussion at my table was ‘Marketing & Branding: Creating and Turning a Profit With A Strong Brand’.

Here are some of the surprising and not so surprising questions I was asked last night from 10 entrepreneurs along with my answers.

Q. How do I convince my target customer with my branding to adopt my product when they say they don’t need it?

A. You can’t. You are targeting the wrong customer segment. It is like trying to shove a round peg through a square hole. Branding will not make a difference when your product or service offering is not solving a problem for that customer segment. The question is, how long do you keep trying to sell to someone before trying something else? That something else needs to be an educated guess. Try to understand why they do not need your solution and then either pivot the customer segment or the solution to better fit another problem.

Q. If I start a blog, will I annoy my community deterring them from using my service?

A. No! Blogging is not spam. Provide your readers with valuable content they can learn from. Members sign up for it or drop in when they can. You can survey your subscribers to ask them how often they wish to read a post if you are uncertain on how much is too much. We can never assume to know what a customer wants until we ask them. Read an earlier post I wrote on this very topic.

Q. I have store traffic and have no idea who my customer is. How can I define them?

A. Start a newsletter. Offer future discounts in exchange for a signup at the cash, then survey your new signups through an online survey. In a survey you can capture all of their demographic info. Start a community social online and invite your customers to join, this is a great way to get feedback, earn trust, offer promotions, and most importantly learn about your current and potential customers.

Q. How can I become a thought leader on and offline when there are already so many out there. 

A. There might be many resources out there, but there is no one like you. You can always offer a unique perspective on your content. Here are three ways you can start becoming an a leader: 1, -Collaborate with other ‘complimentary’ thought leaders. Leverage their audiences to drive traffic to your web destinations. 2, Build up your online social street cred a.k.a. your social engagement footprint by asking your inner network i.e. friends, family & professional connections to share and comment on your content. This will help build your influence. 3, Speak at events, on panels and host your own events. Network your butts off to reach the right people so that you are in the right places to spread your influence.

Q. How do I incorporate all my co-founder’s personalities into our brand when we are so different?

A. You don’t have to. Your brand personality should speak to your audience. I love companies with a human touch. But that might not be right for your audience. Your brand stems from your mission statement and not necessary who you are as individuals. Define and validate what value you bring to your customers and how are you different in their eyes. From there, figure out how your audience wants to be spoken to so that they will trust, connect and buy from you. If the partners disagree on brand personality, take it to the polls. Validate with customers or leads. Keep in mind that your brand can evolve, nothing is permanent.

Closing Remarks

The one question I left with the entrepreneurs when was this: how does your solution impact your customers lives? Get that answer (from customers) and you’ll have a thorough understanding of what you need to do to propel your brand forward.

Thank you to the event organizers, Pascale Petit-Gagnon and Vanessa Cherenfant for a fun night of exchange and enlightenment.

If you have any questions for the Brendan & Brendan team, ask away in the comments!

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