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In Part 1, we talked about getting clear on your identity. Knowing who you are is absolutely fundamental to marketing – no matter what business you’re in. So… what business are you really in?

The Starbucks example is a fun one. They definitely sell coffee. They make a variety of beverages. Legal addictive stimulants are in virtually every beverage they make (does anyone really buy decaf?). And they truly create an experience designed to bring pleasure to the senses… to truly entertain. Of course, this is the factor that adds the most value to the commodity they sell and… yes, it’s why people pay more than they have to pay every single day. Starbucks customers are not buying just a commodity. Are yours?

Given that they could key off of any of those options (there isn’t a “wrong” one in the list), do you see the far-reaching implications of their choice? That simple, critical decision will determine virtually everything about the marketing decisions they make. And yet, simple as it is, when you’re working on this for your own business, this step can be one of the most difficult. Why? Because most of us are dealing with some degree of fuzziness about our identity.

If you are fuzzy about your identity… how can your customers and future customers possibly be clear that you are the right choice to meet their needs? Fuzzy logic may be great in mathematics, but in marketing it’s deadly. It’s the difference between nailing the bullseye and missing the target entirely.

Don’t make another marketing decision until you settle this essential question. You’ll get your best results on this work when you pair up with someone outside your business who can serve as a “sounding board.” As my clients and trainees have all heard me say, you can’t read the label from inside the bottle.

Tomorrow: who are your customers?