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Can Passion Become Poison to Company Growth?


When you’re passionate about your business, it can be downright difficult to be objective. And that lack of objectivity can severely limit your company’s growth.

Here’s how.

Company X has been in business for 30 years. The firm’s principal and founder has built a strong, loyal client base. The clients share a similar demographic and psychographic make-up, due in large part because like-minded people attract. They are in the same age range, share the same conservative beliefs and appreciate the firm’s “old school” ways. The founder is convinced the business model she developed has served the company very well through the years.

The challenge is that the client base is aging, and younger generations are either not aware of the firm or find the firm’s brand to be irrelevant – from the old-school service model, to the dated brand image, to the firm’s lack of presence in generationally relevant communication channels (e.g., Web, e-mail, social media). Company X has been rendered virtually invisible to a younger generation of clients.

While the firm’s founder is sincerely interested in attracting a new client base, it’s difficult for her to be objective about the right strategies. Why? Because these new strategies don’t appeal to her. After all, she built this highly successful company trusting her gut instincts. And those instincts have been exceptionally good at bringing in like-minded clients. Those instincts are, however, limiting her ability to attract new consumers.

She loves this business that she spent her life building – so much so that fear is preventing her from moving the company forward by trying something new.

So, what can she do to get comfortable? Conduct market research. Have an objective third party talk to prospective clients from the younger, targeted demographic. Ask them how they perceive the brand today, what they would like to see updated to help them better connect with the brand, and how and when they want to be communicated with.

Then trust the research. Accept that your preferences may likely not match those of your target.

Still not convinced? Confirm what you learned from the research with some market testing, often called A-B testing. It’s where you deliver two different ads or e-mail campaigns, for example, through the same channel at the same time to similar audiences – one with your more modernized messaging strategy and one using your tried-and-true tone. Then, measure the responses.

If your loyal clients are truly loyal, a more modern brand won’t stop them from coming back, and you’re opening the doors to a whole new segment of client.

If you want to create a legacy for your company that continues well past your retirement, push your passion aside for a moment and open your mind to new ways of marketing to a new era of clients.

The Roman scholar Marcus Tullius Cicero saw the stifling danger of too much passion more than 2,000 years ago when he wrote, “He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason.”

-- Lori Turner-Wilson
Posted: 3/18/2013 8:24:22 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: advertising, blog, business, chamber, demographic, growth, leadership, marketing, memphis, passion, poison, sales, target




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