Why 2016 was disappointing

How did you do in 2016? 

Was it a success? Or was it disappointing? Even strong sales years contain elements of disappointment. So even if 2016 was a good sales year for you, starting anew in 2017 with repositioning your brand, story, and unique selling proposition may be in order. Why? You’ve always got to stay one step ahead of an evolving market.

There are many elements that impact sales results. Competition, pricing, the economy, and even distraction caused by the 2016 election come to mind. But rarely is it just one thing that contributes to a disappointing year. The reality is that several individual reasons—that when added together—play a cumulative role in affecting your success.

My recommendation? Evaluate this 10-point checklist that, when combined, embody your position, and can have a direct impact on 2017 sales.

  1. Brand Name: Is it easy to pronounce and remember? Does it sound current with the times?
  2. Brand Equity: Brand equity, by definition, is the real value of a brand name for an organization’s products or services. Establishing brand equity is essential because brands are known to be strong influencers of critical business outcomes. Does your brand convey value? How long has your brand been around? 
  3. Tagline: Do you have two or three words that pay off your brand name? If you don’t have a tagline, you should create one. Sometimes, just refreshing your tagline will be enough to breathe new life into your brand.
  4. Logo: Is it modern? Are you using colors that bring out the desired emotion of your customer? (Refer to my past column in Target Marketing, Stimulating Action with Color, for specific color recommendations).
  5. One Word: What is the one word that describes the essence of your product or brand? It’s tough to distill your personality to just one word, but the exercise is helpful
  6. Brand Emotion: Does your brand reflect what you are known for, or would like to be known for? Click here for five steps to shed light on creating a solid branding statement.
  7. USP: What is your unique selling proposition? Have you reduced it to a short paragraph that everyone in your organization can refer to when developing new marketing materials? If you need ideas, here are my five proven ways to create a blockbuster unique selling proposition.
  8. Your Story: Stories differentiate you from your competitors in today’s culture now more than ever. If you need proof, I recommend reading Seth Godin’s book, All Marketers are Liars (which, by the way, was repositioned with a cover change. The word “Liars” is crossed out and replaced with “Tell Stories.”) 
  9. Golden Thread: Your story—your position—should have a Golden Thread that weaves throughout your message. What are the two or three words (or a brief concept) that you can continually use to bring your customer back to your core message?
  10. Positioning Alignment: Is your positioning aligned with the personality—the persona—of your customer? A persona goes beyond demographic and behavior information. It gets to the intuition and core thinking of the fears, hopes, dreams, and values of an individual. (Much more about personas, and the twelve I’ve observed most in my direct marketing career in my book, Crack the Customer Mind Code).

Dive into this checklist with your team, and I can assure you the conversation will be lively, and could produce a new breakthrough for you in 2017.


Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.