By Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster

Small business owners are in a bit of a conundrum when it comes to marketing. You can either do it yourself or bring in a marketing agency.

Let’s be real. Doing marketing yourself is not an option. Even if you enjoy it, there’s too much. Contemporary branding and marketing is not something you do in the seams and creases of running a business.

A marketing agency, the one-stop shop of your dreams that only charges you a minimal monthly fee and immediately produces quality results across every single platform, doesn’t exist either. Marketing agencies must fulfill too many roles and accrue too many overhead costs to be all things to all clients. That’s why many of them are now specializing.

Finally, you may not be able to hire a full-time internal marketing executor. And you certainly don’t have time nor energy to manage a bunch of freelancers.

We are the third way. A hybrid of coaching and accountability, we establish a brand and marketing foundation that centers around who you really are, why you do what you do and what type of marketing you enjoy the most. Then we coach you to take the first steps at implementing it, and living the brand. (Later on, we can help you find and onboard a full or part-time marketing coordinator.)

In our model, we focus on teaching our clients four principles:

  1. Strategy first, tactics second. It’s so tempting to think that changing your logo or updating your website or trying the newest marketing fad will help produce results. But here’s the hard truth: If your foundation isn’t solid and level, then your house is going to be unstable at best. In this wobbly state, marketing tactics are unpredictable or are likely to crack. Further, when you get the strategy right, you can drive the cost out of marketing execution.
  2. Put your mission at the center of your brand. By “your mission” we mean your mission. You, the owner. Not a mission statement. The drive in your soul that burns to build something. When you put the mission at the center of your brand and communicate it with a heart-based message, you trigger attraction and spur word-of-mouth. You are no longer using marketing to pitch goods and services. You are using marketing to invite people to your mission.
  3. Get the language right. Branding is ultimately a word-of-mouth practice. And we must be in agreement on what the words are. Not on a functional level, but on a soulful level. We take the time to meaningfully wire mission to emotion to specific words that precisely articulate the change you are creating in the world. This is language that stops people in their tracks, that leads to deep conversations, that, in seconds, converts the curious to the engaged.
  4. Your brand strategy and business model must be aligned. When not properly tended to, brand and business model tend to drift apart. This puts you in the position of branding something that’s not real and/or doesn’t support your revenue goals. It’s like having one foot in two different boats. Many small business owners unconsciously deal with tactical bias; a check-box approach to marketing where if the task is done then you’ve marketed. Not true. Marketing is producing results, and results come from strategy, message, differentiation.

Marketing isn’t the actual problem. You are. You’ve built your business by being a problem solver, which has served you well! Congrats!

But here’s the deal, friend, marketing is not a problem to solve.

It’s a mystery to unlock, a method that unfolds, a practice and not something one does alone.

Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster are cofounders of the intrinsic branding practice known as Root + River. Together with their defiantly different clients, they uncover then articulate the foundational elements of the brand. Then, they provide brand strategy and brand coaching as the brand is rolled out internally and externally. Obsessive about language and differentiation, Emily + Justin are also authors and speakers. Follow @rootandriver @fosterthinking and @emilyatlarge.

Learn more about our third-way approach to marketing and branding by sending us a note.

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