This week’s episode of Ask Matt walks through how business leaders can clarify their brand vision, values and messaging. Beyond that, we discuss how to build a team that believes in that vision so that both your team and revenues can grow.
Matt Mroczek: Welcome to ask Matt. A weekly video series where we’re talking about entrepreneurship, business, marketing; basically everything your business needs to get ahead. I’m Matt Mroczek, I’m joined by Matt Lo – Everything you’re about to see is unscripted so let’s roll the intro and get after it!
Matt Mroczek: How do you identify a customer pain?
Matt Lo: I mean there’s like a lot of different ways to identify it so let’s just do it from like the start startup At the very very beginning. You just called some people. You just talk about what your problem is or what your solution is and see if it matches real-world problems.
Matt Mroczek: And you talk to everybody? You talk in person? You talk online?
Matt Lo: I think in the beginning it’s sort of like talking everybody sort of want to validate the position of your Problem/Solution. And you can get a different perspective on people.
Again the aspect just anyone off the street I think it does require at least some of business knowledge and then you can then sort of filter down and say OK someone who has industry expertise and then filtered down to someone who is literally in the industry right now and then you’re filtering down to like people who use potential competitors.
And you can sort of keep validating and oftentimes your initial Problem/Solution is not the same when you come to the end of the journey of that process.
Matt Mroczek: When we are trying to figure out how to solve a problem. One thing I learned from you is like really understanding fail scenarios. When trying to solve a problem and thinking about the fail scenarios. Why is that an important part of the decision-making process?
Matt Lo: I am a pessimist by nature. So I look for every possible way of failing because of when you are when you are working on it is sort of thinking of like OK this is where we can crash and burn. OK, this is where we can crash and burn. So you sort of just like navigating your way through to success without thinking about it.
So that’s you know that’s I think it’s very important because otherwise if you’re only super optimistic on your venture. I think you can get a surprised very quickly on things that happen and also as you’re a pessimist along the way. And if a surprise does come, you sort of bake that in – think of as the unknown-unknown percentage. Right.
It’s like you’re really OK that you know we sort of predicted this, that something we didn’t know is going to happen. So you know we just change gears a little bit, pivot and it’s on to the next one.
Matt Mroczek: I’m sure with ChipBot you see what the two and five-year vision looks like in terms of customer revenue, numbers, or whatever you gauge success. How do you manage what you have to do today and focus on what you have today when it’s so easy to think about where you want to be? How do you maintain that level of concentration?
Matt Lo: Well first it’s a lot of psychological problems because oftentimes like one of the easiest ways to fall into despair is I had this grand vision and it’s not working. Super easy.
And then you just have to be like Ok grand vision. Write it down. Forget about it now. Right. But you have to write it down because it happens you can change your mind later. So you have to write it down so it can be in the permanent record and then you go back to the micro-strategy of today’s problems and you solve those and you focus on that and your grand vision is always there that you can sort of reference back to it later.
Matt Mroczek: How important is it to communicate that vision to the team?
Matt Lo: I think it’s a part of culture. We talk like we’re working with sort of like our brand our brand values our brand position the messaging and the tone. All that is sort of embedded in the employees and all that requires that vision.
No one’s going believe and want to work for you if things like you’re just winging it right. They want to see like where Why am I here? What if I do this work now where is it going to pay off? Like you’re one year two year three.
People want people want growth And you have to tell them here’s your growth track.
Matt Mroczek: How do you keep employees and team members motivated? Like I’m sure people want financial compensation. They want work-life balance. They want career advancement or their own achievements. How do you manage and maintain talent and keep them motivated?
Matt Lo: Well building on top of sort of like that brand vision like that’s like 20 percent Like that sort of keeps everyone at least at the same wavelength. And then compensation, knowledge, career path, that’s all baked in for the other 80 percent.
One thing I am really didn’t mention earlier about vision is the level of impact. People need to feel that they’re doing something significant and actually need not just feeling like intrinsically a must have an impactful value that they’re producing.
So that’s sort of baked into not just the vision but the company itself. You need to have of why a long road map and the problem you solving today solve real problems.
Based on the sort of brand vision and brand value it’s like. How important is that for a startup in your eyes? Like I’m thinking like right when you come up with an idea and you’re like contemplating it who’s giving my co-founder; are they going to be technical or not. Where does brand vision fit in this process?
Matt Mroczek: I think as you said of bringing vision needs to be something like a big picture that people can latch on to that they can believe in. That their personal goals, not only what they care about in their personal lives in their professional life but all of those some kind of come together right.
Think of like a Venn diagram where what do I want to achieve in my personal life? What if I wanted my career life? And then the company that I’m working with investing my time and energy into now. How does that align and how does that gets me where I want to be in five, ten years.
Matt Lo: When does it start? Like I like usually not the top priority chain when you first started.
Matt Mroczek: I think it starts when you hit your first problem. Once you have like a disagreement internally of we should or should not do something and two people are butting heads or just a tough conversation you don’t have.
You don’t really establish your values until you hit that point of contention almost because then at that point you have to wind it back and say OK we should do this or we should not based on what we believe and what we care about.
Matt Lo: So that’s interesting. Like instead of planning it ahead of time and just stowing it away. It’s like we’ll let a problem occur first where the value is necessary and then talk about those values before we tackle the problem together.
Matt Mroczek: And it’s like what you mentioned is culture. You want to attract people who believe some of the same things as you do. And so then with that when you hit those roadblocks it’s easier to say OK well we both care about A, B, and C this problem, if we go down a certain path, does it check these boxes or not.
And then that helps evaluate whether like what the company believes in and what direction to go in
Matt Lo: When it comes to hiring your first co-founder though if you deferring your brand values to the first problem well how do you make sure they could find you have some more or less just a gut instinct?
Matt Mroczek: Well it’s up to the founder to initiate culture and culture, there’s a great quote that’s like whether you have it or not culture exists. So it’s instilling that culture from the moment of somebody is hired. And it’s also in terms of not just kind of the first decision but it’s about the first deliverable. These are or are not up to my expectations. This does or does not belong within our brand.
Those first couple of checkmarks where everybody still trying to get to know each other. That’s when brand values are starting to be introduced. We don’t really solidify them until you come across a position where something needs to be black or white and you have to make a decision.
Matt Lo: If in the beginning, you don’t have a well-established brand value or brand position. And you’re releasing your products and you got your first 10 customers. How do you amplify the marketing? Going from 10 to 100 customers if you don’t really know where your position is?
Matt Mroczek: I think your position is there whether it’s been defined or not. Everybody has kind of what they believe in and sometimes it takes a lot of energy to really uncover what you care about and so forth.
Matt Lo: Well like a common problem with businesses is a by the book Traction or they’ll follow like the latest Neil Patel video and they’re just sort of following it to the tee; so you get no brand infusion in there in the first place.
Even if you think it’s supposed to be in the background, even if it’s not intentional. They are just following template by template so how do you develop a great marketing plan or you just don’t?
Matt Mroczek: Well I think you’re marketing in the beginning. I think it’s best to start organic and inbound overpaying for it because the problem with paying for it is that you don’t really understand the customer you understand the pain and you may or may not have a good solution.
Matt Lo: So you’re saying by doing it organically you can let the conversation guide to the right value. Because I know in ads like you’re just paying for play but you don’t really get the comment feedback or anything.
Matt Mroczek: The difference between that. Think of it in two different ways. If you see content that’s addressing something you care about or something you don’t care about that’s going to be data that the business owner gets back to them to see how what was the engagement like how long did people spend on it? Where do they come from? How did they find it? Versus the ad data you’re paying upfront to get those eyeballs, you didn’t earn it.
So the problem is is that data is a different mindset when you think about inbound marketing and creating content in your product marketing. If you’re addressing a customer pain you want people to find that solution organically because they’re looking for it versus putting the solution in front of somebody and say ‘Hey don’t you want this? It solves it.’
That’s a very different mindset on the user side because they weren’t looking for a solution. They just happened to stumble across a product. Whereas if you create content that people are searching for. Huh. Now they’re in the mindset of. I’ve got something I’m trying to figure out. Hack and solve. What are my options
Matt Mroczek: With ChipBot, what’s the toughest decision you’ve had to make so far?
Matt Lo: I feel like every day is a tough decision. I mean every day; that’s actually really it. There’s no like definitive decision that said like that was hard. I think when you’re growing a company you come up with new challenges. You don’t really have an absolute answer to. And that’s a good internal indicator that things are moving.
I always like telling people like you’re making hard decisions every day. At least you’re moving. You could be still going straight down off the cliff and about to explode when you hit the ground. But at least like you amplified that; or you help deter it somehow. So yeah decisions are; every one of them is hard.
Matt Mroczek: For learning something new; is it better to teach yourself go to school? Research online? Take a course?
Matt Lo: I’m the wrong person to ask for that. So I’ve always been a self-learner so I believe like first of all you should do due diligence and the research you’re trying to learn more about.
Often I buy; like when I was like trying to like fix my writing. One of the first things they did when they bought a book on how to tell a great story. Nothing about marketing; more or less just in the marketing genre. And then worked on or read other books on the marketing intent of the message. The value intent of the message. If I were to write a 500-page novel what would that look like? So I’m sort of doing my own R&D as I research as well. Or at least test.
And then you also going in with testing I’ll go on like I use this Web site called like 200 words a day or go on Quora or don’t read it and just like post questions or new pieces of small bits of content I go to Inediehacker to post content.
Definitely few times like people said like this is really bad. Or you shouldn’t do this. And then like other times like go silent which is also feedback by the way and then other times like I’ll get like 20 30 upvotes.
So I take ideas from I get from books and then I implement them like just test them right away. The other part for a little bit more harder task. I’ll use like videos and books combined; because I need to hear perspectives. Sometimes a book doesn’t have perspectives on things like a directive. Or sometimes it’s like…
Matt Mroczek: And whose perspective would you look for? A subject matter expert or…?
Matt Lo: You know it’s a good question because oftentimes I look at like maybe like the top trending post and usually subject matter experts and I can’t really relate to them. You’re talking to generalize for me.
I’m a divergent thinker. So I like thinking of all the possibilities first. And with that in mind, I sometimes like the most popular information that I’m looking for. So I’m looking for those hidden gold nugget of information and you’re going to get I don’t think you’ll get that from a generalist or trending popular speakers.
You’re going to get it from subject matter expertize; that are probably a little boring.
All right. When it comes to brand design. How the heck does a founder figure out what their logo should look?
Matt Mroczek: That’s tough because logos have come a long way but the core principles are always there. The main piece to think about is what do you want to communicate. And can you do that in a very quick and concise way almost like a meme.
How can you get your message across as fast as possible? Once you can identify that then you start trimming things down from pallet to font iconography or not. It really just depends on the image you’re trying to portray and how concise it can be.
Matt Lo: Do you think it really matters? Like I see a lot of company just put it like a circle and a text and that’s their brand and they’ll be making like ten thousand dollars in next month.
Matt Mroczek: The brand is more about the product than anything else. That’s where you really need to spend a lot of the time. I mean like the name your company in the logo for all intents and purposes it’s just simply got to get through. It’s not anything to spend a lot of time on really what you want to focus on is the problem you’re solving. And then just hope that there’s some correlation between the two.
Matt Lo: Is there any way to validate a good logo or not?
Matt Mroczek: I mean people call people cold seller like published on their network all the time. The only problem is that I don’t see a lot of value in that because you could be getting people who aren’t your target audience weighing in on something.
So they’re looking at it through a different lens than a potential customer who’s doing maybe a one to one test of you versus competitors.
Matt Lo: So if I was making a logo right now a new logo for a new company really I just need to maybe come up with the three ideas and then pick one maybe validate with you. Just make sure it’s not some stupid name or some stupid color color color scheme and just say whatever my gut feeling is; pick that and just run with it.
Matt Mroczek: There are general design principles to stay around so definitely adhere to those. But the other piece is is it memorable? Will people recognize it? And then as quickly as possible move past that. Brands always evolve.
I mean you look at Slack right. Like they had a good logo they have a new one out and whether you like it or not really doesn’t matter because you will never leave their product because of the logo. You’ll stay because of the product.
Matt Lo: Do you think ChipBot has a good logo?
Matt Mroczek: Yes. At first, I was super concerned about the color. And then something grew on me to a point where like probably ordering team t-shirts pretty soon.
Matt Lo: I feel like that’s the entire product. It’s like I don’t know about this product but it grows on me. I feel like the whole thing is like that.
Matt Mroczek recently left the marketing agency world where he was overseeing national campaigns for some of your favorite household brands. His scrappy, can-do attitude is what drives and pushes him to successfully growth hack any situation.