Newsroom HomeBlogsStoriesSoundtrack ProjectNewsroom ArchivesChamber Home Page

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

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.
Leave comment Subscribe

= five - one

Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

Sales & Small Business Ownership
Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

Public Relations
Several professionals and strategists from the local Obsidian Public Relations firm provide excellent advice on everything from research to media relations to event planning. They believe that all companies, no matter how big or small the company or its budget, should have a public relations plan driving how they manage their relationships with key stakeholders. Public relations is an integral part of doing business the right way.

Human Resources
Joel Myers is a career Human Resources professional, with over 40 years in the field including 26 years in consulting.

Small Business Advice
Tom Pease is a small business owner of an office equipment dealership called e/Doc Systems, Inc. He has also owned a full-line Kawasaki dealership as well as a document shop. He used 30+ years of experience in owning a business to author two books, including: Going Out of Business by Design: Why 70% of Small Businesses Fail and Small Business Survival 101. He also has published 85 columns in The Memphis Daily News as the Small Business Advisor.

Marketing & Public Relations
Lori Turner-Wilson is CEO and Founder of RedRover Company, a sales development, marketing and PR consulting firm. Lori works with companies large and small, from start-ups to mature organizations, to help them improve the productivity of their sales force and the return on their marketing investment. Lori writes a weekly syndicated column for the Daily News, Memphis News, Nashville Ledger, and Desoto Times, among others, titled “Guerrilla Sales & Marketing,” for which she won a 2011 Summit International Award and 2012 International Communicator Award.

Design and Digital Strategy
Founded in 1999, inferno provides brand development, advertising, public relations, design and digital marketing services to clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Headquartered in Memphis with a satellite office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the award-winning firm produces results-driven work by passionately combining strategic thinking, creativity and culture to ensure the success of its clients. For more information, visit

Labor & Employment Law
Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That's why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases. The firm has 350 attorneys in 32 offices, including Memphis. For more information, visit

Since its founding in 2005, Paragon Bank has maintained a solid focus on the community and customer service. For more than 10 years, Paragon has delivered innovative products and financial expertise, convenience, and a deep understanding of what both businesses and individuals need from a ban, in order to provide solutions that make a difference. In the areas of business or personal banking, lending options or wealth management, Paragon delivers cutting edge technology, an experienced team and the most service-oriented staff of any community bank.