The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Better Marketing

The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Better Marketing

Most entrepreneurs start their business because they are passionate about what they do. They have an idea or a craft that fills them with excitement, motivates them, and keeps them moving forward. They get a ton of joy and satisfaction from their work.

Unfortunately, though, a lot of small business owners make the mistake of thinking that passion and excitement are all they need for a successful marketing plan. The truth is, “being passionate” is not a very good marketing strategy.

Marketing before Brand-Building Doesn’t Work

Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Grateful Grahams‘ founder Rachel DesRochers. Rachel is one of the most passionate entrepreneurs I’ve ever met. She puts her heart and soul into everything she does.

And she had a great product – handmade, small-batch, vegan grahams. But these are unlike any graham cracker you’ve ever had; they’re more like delicious, soft, and chewy cookies.

Rachel had a ton of passion combined with a great product. But there was a problem. Sales were flat. Her marketing wasn’t working.

She wasn’t communicating who she was and what her brand was all about, she wasn’t connecting with the right people, and she wasn’t able to stand out on those crowded cookie-aisle shelves.

Build Your Brand before Your Marketing

Before trying any more marketing, Rachel and I took a step back and started working on building her brand from the ground up.

First, we took a look at the purpose behind her business. It turns out she has an amazing mission – to spread a message of gratitude, one graham at a time. She even refers to Grateful Grahams as “A gratitude company that happens to sell cookies,” as opposed to a cookie company that talks about gratitude. We made this message her North Star. Every decision going forward had to line up with this purpose.

Next, we took a look at who she was serving. We then created a more accurate definition of Grateful Grahams’ ideal customer. We used words and images in our marketing campaigns that spoke directly to them. We even asked people what they were grateful for and then printed their responses on bags. It was a compelling way of connecting with customers while also (literally) spreading messages of gratitude.

Finally, we took a look at the competition. We saw what everyone else was doing and came up with a few ways we could stand out on those crowded supermarket shelves. We combined the handmade look of a kraft bag with bright, bold labels to create a unique look for a Grateful Grahams.

Once Rachel got intentional about building her brand, her marketing started working. And armed with better marketing, sales began to take off. Kroger soon took notice, and today you can find Grateful Grahams in 89 Kroger stores around the US.

The Simple Secret to Better Marketing

Here’s the simple secret: If your marketing isn’t working as well as you’d like, take a step back and get intentional about building your brand first.

Here are a few questions you can answer  today to start improving your marketing:

Who are you? You need to be able to communicate your purpose clearly. Why do you do what you do? What is your mission? Give people a reason to care about you.

Who is your customer? Who are you serving? What are their hopes and dreams? What do they worry about? What problems do you help them solve? Get to know more about them than just surface-level demographics.

How are you different? Why should anyone choose you? Do a little research on your competition. You’re looking for a unique angle, for cracks your brand can fill. Find ways to stand out, and give people something to talk about.

This is just the tip of the brand-building iceberg, but it’s a good start. Having compelling answers to these three questions will help your marketing work much better. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. It takes a bit of work to get it right, but the payoff is well worth it.

About the Author

Patrick McGilvray is an experienced brand strategist and creator of The Brand Sketch—courses and community designed to help solo entrepreneurs build more profitable, more sustainable brands. Sign up for your free brand-building course today at

1 reply
  1. Sarah Kleiner
    Sarah Kleiner says:

    What a great story!
    We wouldn’t have been able to find our North Star without Patrick’s help. Learning to embrace our differentiators and stepping through the fear of trying to everything to everyone has helped us stay focused on what we do best and is paying off, literally!

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