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A healthy brand requires a significant amount of focus in specific areas. Certain seasons of your brand’s life may look different than the others, and you may end up building out different things throughout the years.

Times will come when you need to evaluate where you are spending your time and money. Are your purchases aiding your goal, and is the time you’ve allocated toward certain things actually building your brand in the right direction?

You have to take a step back every once in a while and assess the situation. Regular evaluation times are a necessity for a healthy, growing brand.

You may have to make some hard decisions. You might need to cut things out of your life. You may need to stop spending money in an area that is more fun than others because it’s not actually helping your mission.

In this episode, we’ll be talking about how to consistently and regularly evaluate how you are investing in your brand, and how to reposition your focus to accomplish your goals.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • Evaluate your brand, and how you’re spending your money and time.
  • Get creative with alternatives to expensive investments instead of just pouring money into things.
  • Invest in details that bring delight.
  • Set aside your ideal situation to give your audience and customers a really good experience.
  • Invest in lessening friction for your audience.
  • Unexpected delight comes from the attention to detail that you give each order.
  • Constantly evaluate how investments make your brand better and help you achieve your goals.
  • Help guide your customers to the right perception of your brand by reminding them them that you’re human.
Show Notes
  • 03:49 Cory: The term “investment” is interesting. We sling it around a lot. When people think about investment, they primarily think about financial investment. When you think, “I’m going to invest in this stock,” or, “I’m going to invest in myself,” or, “I’m going to invest in my business,” or, “I’m going to invest in my brand,” it’s often the idea, “I’m going to put money into this thing because I want to see a return.” When it comes to deciding where your brand needs deeper investment, all of this comes back to evaluation. Kyle and I are really big on evaluation, on taking a step back and assessing the situation.
  • 04:38 Sorting out, “Is what I’m doing right now actually helping my brand? Is it developing the kind of perception I want people to have about me, my business, and what I’m doing? Is all of this coming together correctly? Am I focusing my money on the right things?” What you choose to invest in depends on how you’re evaluating your brand and how you’re spending your money and your time. Is this thing actually building your brand in the right direction?
  • 05:17 Kyle: There are so many things that I would love to do for my brand that don’t make practical sense right now. There are some products I would like to launch, larger investments that would not make financial sense for me at this point.
  • 05:47 Cory: How do I keep going in the right direction? Kyle could invest into icon pillows right now, or he could invest in something else. He could put that money somewhere else. That doesn’t mean that he would never invest in that someday, if that’s going to help him accomplish what he wants to accomplish. In this moment, though, what is wise? What is common sense? What is practical? How do I get to a place where I can invest a little bit deeper?

Think Creatively

  • 06:49 Kyle: It’s an interesting thing to evaluate. There are also some things you have the ability to do that may supplement what you want to invest in. For my products, I wanted to have really nice Thank You cards that go with the product, because I’m very thankful to anyone who has ordered products from my store. It’s a new area that my brand is expanding into, and I’m excited that I’m supported. I wanted to have these really nice Thank You cards, but on top of the product investment, these are fairly low-cost, low barrier to entry products. Therefore, the returns on my end are not as significant.
  • 07:47 They’re good, but they’re not significant. They’re not enough to justify having a super nice, polished, custom card made as a Thank You card. I thought about this a lot, and I realized that from way back when I did photography work, I had this heat embosser. You order these little metal plates for it, metal dies, and it heats them up and it stamps foil or paper. It’s really cool. I hadn’t used it in forever. I just had it lying around and didn’t know what to do with it. I realized that I could order paper, foil, and new dies for the machine, and I started making these Thank You cards. Including the cost of all the paper I ordered, the dies I had, and the foil—all that together makes each of those cards about $0.16 for me.
  • 09:01 That’s a super low cost, compared to if I would have ordered foil-embossed custom cards. This is like 1,000 of them. There’s no way I would have gotten them for that price. There are things you can look into to help your investment costs in a different way. This isn’t the way other people are doing it. I’ve never received a foil-embossed Thank You card in the mail. Typically, people do it a different way, but I played to the strengths I had to lower my investment costs. What things can you do to circumvent your perceived need to invest in things that may not push your brand forward, but help you achieve a certain level of quality?

Get really creative with alternatives to expensive investments instead of just pouring money into things.

  • 10:14 Cory: Kyle, I have a question for you. I think I know the answer, but I’m going to ask it on behalf of the audience. These Thank You cards that you developed, that you literally created, do not have a direct monetary return. How would you describe or define the return on investment for those cards for your brand?
  • 10:36 Kyle: It’s an investment into the perception of my brand. Most people don’t really think about or know that I’m hand-packaging all of these products. I’m putting them together myself, stamping the packaging myself, writing these Thank You notes by hand… This is a very hands-on process at this point in my brand’s life cycle. Maybe in the future, we’ll figure out how to accomodate larger orders, but right now it’s very small orders and I’m appreciative of those things. I want the people who order to know that I’m appreciative of the fact that they came to my site and wanted to support my brand growth.
  • 11:31 The investment is into these people that are already showing me that they believe in what my brand is about, want to support me, or appreciate the content I’ve created. I want to make sure those people know that I care about that. The investment return isn’t necessarily financial, although it could become financial in the future, but it also increases word of mouth. If nobody else is receiving a really thick paper foil-embossed Thank You handwritten card in the mail, they’re going to tell their friends about that. They’re going to say, “Look at this thing I got! This is so cool. He wrote it himself to me, and all I did was place a $12 order.”
  • 12:23 It increases word of mouth, brand loyalty, and brand perception. That’s the investment. It’s not a monetary return. I got creative to figure out how to make that a low barrier to entry but also not something that looks like an afterthought. It’s a low cost investment, but it almost looks like the best thing in the package. It’s something that most people would have to order custom and pay quite a bit of money to have made. Because I have that, I use it to my advantage.
  • 13:14 Cory: I received the order that Kyle sent me, and I opened it up and pulled out that card and it was so good. That’s a huge aspect of figuring out where your brand needs deeper investment.

Invest in Details That Delight

  • 13:32 Cory: Think through what we’re talking about here—brand, perception, what people say about you, what people think about you, and whether they talk or think about you. Sometimes it’s little things. Sometimes it’s big things.

The best brand results come from your dedication and investment in details that bring delight.

  • 14:07 I think that’s a huge aspect of brand that we haven’t talked about that much. We’ve talked about it in different terms, but it’s the idea of delight. I opened up this package and I said, “Oh, so cool!” I didn’t say, “I got what I needed.” If you get a package in the mail and you got what you ordered, it doesn’t matter. If you open up a package you got in the mail and you show your significant other, you tweet a picture, or you drop it on Facebook saying, “Look at this cool thing I got! This is pretty slick,” those are the things that bring your brand perception to another level.
  • 14:59 Notice that we didn’t say, Deciding When Your Brand Needs Deeper Investment, but it’s, Deciding Where Your Brand Needs Deeper Investment. Personal interactions might be a place where you need to have deeper investment. You might need to up the level of customer service, like we talked about in episode 38. Maybe you need to have deeper investment in exceptional customer service. Maybe you need to update your packaging because it’s terrible, and that’s going to be the first physical interaction that someone’s going to have with your brand. If that tactile experience is bad, what does that say about you?
  • 15:57 With various things like personalized cards, personalized emails, or a better website experience, ask yourself, “Can I take money from another venture, another thing that I want, and spend it on this other thing?” I could spend $2,500 on a new computer, but if this one works fine, I could put that same money into building my brand. Just because I made $2,500 from my business doesn’t mean that I can just put it into myself. You have to invest it back. If you’re trying to get your brand to another level and improve your perception, you have to think about how people are interacting with you and your brand.

What are the key moments in someone’s interaction with your brand?

Those things need to be dialed in.

  • 17:06 Kyle: You need to understand where you need investment. Everybody wants to invest everything into every aspect of their brand. In an ideal world with no income and no need for figuring out investment, you would love to put everything into every piece of your brand. What really needs to happen is that you need to find out what’s meaningful for your brand, the things that create an experience for the people on the other end. Sometimes, that looks like sacrifice on your end, from your side of the process. Set aside your ideal situation to give your audience and your customers a really good experience.
  • 18:00 Cory: There are two things you should look out for when you’re deciding where your brand needs deeper investment.

Find Friction Points & Lessen the Friction

  • 18:30 Cory: Find places in either your sales funnel or the way you connect with people, look at that process, and figure out what is lacking. What is causing friction? Let’s say someone goes to your website, and the end goal of your website is that you want them to buy a waterproof trench coat. I go the website, and there are a lot of links. It’s kind of confusing, but I see the picture, so I click on the picture. I really want to buy the trench coat. The next page is a full page with a description that says, “Click here to buy.” I click here to buy.
  • 19:26 Then it gives me a bunch of colors. “Choose your colors!” I just wanted the one that I saw, so I click on the color. It sends me to another page, which asks me to enter in all my information. I enter in all of my information. Then it says, “You need to register! We’re going to send you an email.” They send you an email, you get the email, you click on the button in the email, and it sends you back. It says, “Please confirm all of the information.” I confirm all of the information. Then it says, “Fill out your order sheet.” What in the world? All I wanted to do was pay you money, but now I don’t want to anymore.
  • 19:55 That was an extreme example, but friction is all of the stuff between wanting to buy and being able to buy. It’s what stands between me wanting to do the thing you want me to do and being able to do that.

Find what is keeping your audience from getting to the point where you want them to be and invest in lessening the friction.

  • 20:33 Kyle: Sometimes, we’re talking about monetarily here, but it’s also important to look at investment from a time and effort perspective. Maybe there are certain things that, at this point in your brand, are worth the investment of your time and effort even though you don’t have the monetary funds to outsource it to someone else. For example, the customer experience Cory just mentioned is a problem, and maybe one of those pages is a result of not understanding how to put buttons on a different page of your website.
  • 21:13 It could be as simple a change as putting these buttons on one page instead of another, and it would help the process go way faster and be a way better experience. Maybe you should take the time to research how to move the buttons on your website from this spot to that spot. Ask people you know. Use the resources you have and use your time and energy to make that a better experience now. In the future, you can hire a web developer, but maybe you don’t have the resources to do that at this point.
  • 21:51 Cory: Jeremiah just said about buying from Kyle, “This is one of the best, most personal buying experiences I have ever had. Well done, sir. Well done.” That’s because Kyle lessened the friction! Well done! I 100% agree with everything Kyle just said, too.

Find the Expected Things & Make Them Unexpected

  • 22:26 Cory: What I mean by this is—where can you invest a little bit to bring some delight? How can you bring that into your brand? Using Kyle as an example, he wrote a handwritten note and did foil-embossing. I expect to receive a package in the mail. I expect to go to a website and read copy. I expect to do X, Y, and Z. Can you put any small detail in there to make people say, “Ooh, that’s so nice! Oh wow!” Can you get some of that delight into the interactions with your brand?
  • 23:10 If so, that may require some deeper investment. Those are two things to decide where your brand may need deeper investment—finding friction points and lessening the friction and finding expected things and making them unexpected. I don’t mean that when someone goes to your website and they’re browsing, all of a sudden a big picture of a shark pops up with a really loud sound and scares people. Don’t do that. I’m talking about delight, the little things that will make people excited to have interacted with your brand.
  • 23:51 Kyle: When you’re a smaller brand, a lot of that unexpected delight comes from the attention to detail that you give each order. That’s what the big brands can’t compete with. They can’t compete with you taking the time to write a personal note to somebody or to hand-package each order or to stamp the packaging yourself instead of using printed packaging. That’s how I’m doing mine. I just ordered white bubble mailers and stamped my logo on them myself. It takes longer, but I also don’t have as many orders. I have an advantage right now.
  • 24:34 These big companies just have this printed packaging that they stuff something into and send it off, and they don’t really do much else. At the point my brand is at currently, I’m able to do that. When I scale larger, maybe I won’t be able to do as much. There are also some companies that are larger that do these kinds of things. There is a company called Sticker Mule that both of us have used, and they print stickers. That’s who I use to print stickers. Half the time, I throw them away, but they have cards in every order.
  • 25:26 Cory: They say, “Packaged by,” and then they have the name of the person who packed it all together and wrapped everything up and put it in the mail, and they personally sign that. I love that.
  • 25:33 Kyle: It’s a little thing, and it’s seemingly an extra cost and a waste of paper. Admittedly, I do throw it away right after I get it, but it still means something. It means far more than just receiving something in the mail. Now, when I order stickers from somewhere, if I don’t get that in the mail, I think, “I know Sticker Mule quality checks my product. Did they even quality check this?”
  • 26:07 Cory: It also helps solidify that there’s a person at the other end of that order.
  • 26:12 Kyle: It’s a much more personalized experience. Even though I know that they’re fulfilling lots of orders, I feel like they cared enough about me to even just sign a piece of paper and put it in the package.
  • 26:25 Cory: It’s all about perception. Whether or not Jill, who packaged up your sticker order, did 12 that day and she’ll never remember you, it’s helping your perception as the customer with that brand.

Help guide your customers to the right perception of your brand by reminding them that you’re human.

  • 27:00 We’re on your team, customer. That’s where I really believe that your brand needs deeper investment. It’s all about helping guide the brand and the brand perception. Again, we’re talking brand, here, not business. I’m not talking about where your business needs deeper investment. We’re talking about where your brand needs deeper investment, and there is a difference.

Invest in the Things That Matter Most to Your Brand

  • e004 Understanding Brand as Personality and Why It Matters”>27:54 Kyle: It’s all about making sure you have good perception and that your mission and purpose are being projected. I’m glad Cory mentioned that differentiation, because I was floating towards business there. Let’s go back to the persona thing, because I think it applies yet again. Your brand is like a person (Related: e004 Understanding Brand as Personality and Why It Matters). There are certain things you invest in for yourself that give people a certain perception. You get a haircut, and you get your hair cut a certain way. You’re willing to pay a certain amount to make sure that it looks correct.
  • 28:43 Some people may not care as much about that aspect. They might care more about what kind of pants they wear. Some people invest in voice coaching, because they want to have a better voice, to sound better and give speeches. They think people will perceive them differently because they can speak well. Some people don’t care as much about that. Some people care about how strong they are, so they can do certain tasks that require muscle and effort. What does your brand really need?
  • 29:22 We would all love to have great haircuts, speak perfectly, and have really fit bodies. We’d love to invest in all those things at once, but instead, we prioritize those things as individuals. We determine what fits for us and what we want to put the most effort into. You have to do the same with your brand. Maybe, someday, it will get to some ideal state.

Constantly evaluate how investments make your brand better and help you achieve your goals.

  • 29:56 Is it just something I’m doing because it seems like a neat or a fun thing, something I would like to see?