Episode 35: How To Build A Bran‪d‬

Episode 35: How To Build A Bran‪d‬

Marketing is how people find you. Branding is why people buy you.

Susanne Mariga:Welcome to the Profit Talk Show. In this show, we’re going to explore strategies to help you maximize profits in your business while scaling and creating the lifestyle that you want as an entrepreneur. I am your host, Susanne Mariga. I am a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Profit First Professional, and a Certified Tax Coach. Today, we’re going to talk about strategies to help you maximize profits in your business.
Susanne Mariga:Hello, Profit First Entrepreneurs and Thought Leaders. I am so excited because we have a very special guest today. For you guys who are in manufacturing, who are building a brand of products to sell, we have a special guest, and her name is Maureen Mwangi. Maureen is a brand strategist, and she’s the person behind some very major brands like L’Oreal, Chobani, Dove, and if you guys have all heard of Lays, Maureen is the mastermind behind the brand. She’s the creator of Big Brand Academy, The Product Profit Lab and Startward Consulting, which is a consulting firm dedicated to teaching product-based entrepreneurs, the sales and marketing strategies that they need to scale with scientific precision so that they can turn their product brands into household names. Maureen’s zone of genius is her rare ability to connect with her market and turn data into brand growth strategies that drive multimillion-dollar growth. Her non-profit organization, which is Taji Foundation supports boys in Kenya and it helps them get the education that they need to really lift their families out of poverty and build generational wealth.
Susanne Mariga:Please join me in welcoming Maureen to our platform. Hey Maureen, how are you? This is going to be an amazing session. We’re excited to have you. We are all looking to build brands especially product-based brands. 
Maureen Mwangi:
I’m excited to be here. Thank you for having me, Susanne. This is going to be an amazing session.
Susanne Mariga:How did you get into this space? 
Maureen Mwangi:
What an amazing question. So, my journey to entrepreneurship started at the dinner table with my parents as I was growing up. My parents run a product-based business in Kenya, which is similar to Home Depot. If you’re in Texas, Nebraska Furniture Mart is a similar business my parents have in Kenya. They constantly talked about business and they’ve been running this for over 25 years and halfway through their journey, their sales plateaued, they were like, “We’ve done everything, we’ve been importing from China, we are trying to get our customers, but we feel like our marketing is off.” So, my mom would always tell me, “I think one of my children needs to be a marketer so that we can understand what marketing looks like.” And that’s how I started this journey. I went to school. I did a Bachelor in Finance then graduated and did a Master in Marketing Analytics in the US and when you join Marketing Analytics programs in the US, you actually realized they don’t teach you marketing. They teach you how to analyze data. And soon after, I started working for Nielsen, the market research company, after working for Nielsen, jumped into working for PepsiCo, where I was working with a free-to-lay wing of their business. That’s how I got into branding. It all started with me pursuing Marketing Analytics, which led me to be a good data scientist, a good data strategist, and now, a good marketing consultant.
Susanne Mariga:That is amazing and what incredible expertise that you have. If any of you guys have ever done the Nielsen ratings, they are so interesting. Our family was selected one year to do that. We had these pagers that we had to carry everywhere we went so I could pick up on what music the supermarket was playing, what we were listening to in our car, we were watching on TV, and the pager was recording these incredible analytics out there.
Maureen Mwangi:Yes, I was the person analyzing that to tell the company a story, so that we can create products that will meet you, where you are. And now, that’s how good companies create magnetic brands.
Susanne Mariga:I love it. So, tell us Maureen, one of the questions that every manufacturing company has, every product-based business is, how can we increase sales? And, you’ve obviously built some incredible brands. You’ve got L’Oreal under your belt, Chobani, by the way, I love their yogurt, Dove and Lays, how these manufacturing companies built their sales?
Maureen Mwangi:First of all, you need to know what’s happening. So, the first thing, I’m going to do some little teaching here so that I can teach you how brands grow. There are two ways for a brand to grow, it’s being physically available and being mentally available. What does that mean when you’re physically available? You’re present where people buy you. When you’re mentally available, you’re top of mind when they’re making the decision to buy. So, you need to ask yourself from a physical standpoint, are you present? If you’re selling online, do you have the right visibility, is your website layout fantastic? If you’re settling in brick and mortar, are you in places where you’re getting traffic? That’s visibility.  Availability is, are you providing the items that your customers want? And then the other thing, which is what people miss is, are you creating other products that allow you to bring a different type of audience into your business?
Maureen Mwangi:
So, you’re just not saturating in one space. That’s a physical part. Now let’s talk about mental. This is where it gets all exciting because mental is, are you top of mind? So, you need to ask yourself when you’re creating a product, do you have the fundamentals that people need in a particular space? Let me give a great example if you are going to use skincare. What are the things that people look for in skincare? Quality, consistency, great packaging. Do you have those basics? Because if you don’t have those basics, people wouldn’t buy you because they’re ranking you compared to what a standard category looks like. And then, the other thing is, are you marketing in such a way that people understand how to use you and people remember when they need you? Think about it, when you’re thirsty? When you do, what drink do you think about?
Maureen Mwangi:I think about Coke. So, I’ll buy Coke when I’m thirsty. So, how is your marketing structured like in a way for your ideal customer to always remember you? That’s number one. And then number two, you need to understand where the leaks are in your business, because every brand, every product based business has three customers or three strategies that you need to focus on. You’re always acquiring new customers. You’re always retaining the customers you have, or you’re always reclaiming, meaning that you’re looking for customers who previously bought you, but haven’t bought you in a while. Do you know which segment you need to focus on? The biggest mistake I see people think about just acquiring, but you probably don’t even need to be acquired. If you’re in manufacturing, that’s not your strategy. Acquiring is mainly for small businesses because they need to get new customers. So, it’s those two things. Do you have the basic fundamentals of how business brands grow? And the second thing is, have you understood what opportunity you need to tap into?
Susanne Mariga:I love that. That is intense! It’s some real deep thinking and analysis that has to happen to do that. And, so if you’re a small business and let’s say half a million to a couple of million dollars, where do you start to really become the brand that people think about? Like, how do you become the next Coca-Cola?
Maureen Mwangi:You have to spend time working on your brand because what happens is, what I I have seen happen is, we work so hard on our marketing, but marketing is how people find you. Branding is why people buy you. So, if you work on your brand, it takes just one person to get your business viral, because a good business is a business that works and survives on word of mouth sales. So, if you have that stream of revenue where you have a cult-like following, you have a community, then you know, you’re building a brand. And, ultimately that leads to sales. So ask yourself, have you been focusing so much on marketing and you’ve ignored the branding side? If you have, then it’s your time to talk about branding, and this is not how your color looks like. This is not how your logo should look like. It’s more of what is the why behind your product-based business.
Susanne Mariga:I love that. I think that’s a lot of us focus on marketing. We focus on Facebook ads. We focus on just letting people know that we’re out there, but in terms of actually building a following, a tribe, or a brand, now that we know the definition of a brand, that’s not something that happens. That’s not something that we’re thinking about every single day in terms of doing that. That’s deep. So, in terms of building a brand, how will do we go about really starting to build a brand? 
Maureen Mwangi:
Basic fundamental; understanding of your customer in and out. If you are the CEO of your business, you need to be the voice of your customer, like your customer needs to be like a sister or a friend you talk to every single day. Because once you understand that person, you’re able to create messaging that speaks to them. And, once you create the messaging that speaks to them, your marketing now works much harder and faster. Then you find the right sales strategies that will meet your customer where they are.
Susanne Mariga:I love that. So, how do you begin to really understand your customer?
Maureen Mwangi:
Market research. Manufacturers have a ton of data seated with them. You have an email list. How about draft a simple survey or question and asking your audience, “What is it that you like about our product? What is it that you want to see more? How do you spend your days? What’s your philosophy on what you’re selling?” Like really get to know them like a friend, then create a persona or a document that highlights who they are so that you know who you’re actually talking to. And then from there, you’ll be like, “Oh, this is where I can get my messaging from.” So if I’m selling a fitness product, let’s talk about fitness, and my customer is somebody who’s overweight and is really, really looking for something natural and healthy to eat or drink. Then, you know they’re struggling with obesity, let’s use obesity and what are they going to be looking for? A non-sugary drink. What are they struggling with? Going to the gym every day. So, if you’re selling a product, your messaging will be around, “ You don’t have to go and spend two hours at the gym. You can have this product that will still give you the same effects as you being at the gym for two hours.”
Susanne Mariga:Brilliant. I will definitely buy a drink that will not make me have to go to the gym for two hours. 
Maureen Mwangi:
People don’t spend time doing that work. And, so you’re always spinning in, “What do I need to write? What do I need to say? What copy do I need to do for my Facebook ads?” So, you’re looking for the next big thing, well, in reality, your insights are in your data. The answer is in your data.
Susanne Mariga:
Wow. That’s amazing. That is really, really intense and amazing! So, once you know your ideal customer, once you can speak to his or her needs and understand the pain points and the very thing they want to avoid, which is going to the gym, how do you get in front of them? 
Maureen Mwangi:
From the work which you’ve done, you probably know where they’re hanging out. So, let’s take back the example of the lady who’s looking towards losing weight. Where would they be right now? As we’re doing this, we are at the peak of the pandemic. We are all locked up. So, on social media, they’re on Pinterest looking for the next healthiest meal to make. You need to be doing some Pinterest marketing there. They’re on Instagram, of course, because they’re looking at other people they want to be like, so you need to be on Instagram. They’re on YouTube, watching healthy people make healthy meals, you need to be on YouTube. So, once you know where this person spends their time, then you need to be there and meet them there because that’s where they’re going to see what your product and offers.
Susanne Mariga:
I love it. I definitely love it. That is some real juicy morsels there. And, so you guys heard that, build your brand, focus on the brand before you focus on the marketing because once you know your brand and you understand your customer, then you know exactly how to target your marketing. And, so Maureen, with that being said, in terms of being able to do an economical way to be able to build a brand, get in front of your customer, really starts to speak to your customer, what is the best way to do that? Because we’re obviously a Profit First channel. What is the most economic way to do that?
Maureen Mwangi:
That’s a very good question because this is a thing, Susanne, when do you focus on your brand, then you’ll actually start pricing accordingly. And the right pricing strategy gets you to the right profitability metric or number you’re looking for. Because if you remember that people buy brands and not a product, that price does not become an issue. So, when you’re doing your pricing, you’re going to focus on value-based pricing rather than cost-based pricing. Here’s the thing about Tiffany, you can find a paperclip at Tiffany for a thousand dollars and that same paperclip will be sold at the dollar store for a dollar and people will buy their paperclip at Tiffany.
Susanne Mariga:Oh yeah. That’s crazy. They’ll leave that paperclip though. Don’t leave that paperclip. 
Maureen Mwangi:
That is because Tiffany knows that somebody is going to buy that. They know there’s a customer for them. That comes the higher the price, the value you put on your product, the higher your profits will be, like if you have factored in all the elements that go into pricing for a product-based business.
Susanne Mariga:I love that and that’s exactly what starts the conversation of positioning at that point because now, we’re positioning our product to target an ideal customer that’s willing to pay a certain price point and you’re right, Maureen, profitability is impacted by pricing, because if you’re charging too close to your cost of goods sold or too close to the cost that it requires for you to manufacture a product, it’s very hard to make a profit. But if you can position it at a premium like I always think of the Nike shoe brand, they say that “Oh goodness, I can never remember the amount of lives lost annually for a pair of sneakers.” You can buy sneakers anyway, you can get target brand sneakers. My mom used to buy us K-Mart brand sneakers when I was growing up. And they probably all the same sneakers at the end of the day, but it’s a brand that’s commanding, unfortunately, the lives of young people. So, positioning just shows how powerful you can position a product and I love the example that you gave of Tiffany’s because Tiffany’s, they have a paperclip and I have one right here and you can get a whole pack of them for like probably a dollar, but Tiffany probably sells this paperclip for hundreds of dollars. What allows Tiffany’s to sell this paperclip for hundreds of dollars?
Maureen Mwangi:
If you look back to Tiffany’s messaging, what do you see it is? 
Susanne Mariga:
Oh, wow. That’s a deep question. It’s a blue box. I know that’s a blue, green box, you walk out of the store with a bag and it makes a statement. That is deep, Maureen. That is deep. 
Maureen Mwangi:
Think about how happy the experience of the Tiffany stores. They’ve focused on the elements of a brand that matter the most to a customer. The experience, white glove service, those small things that we often think they’re small is what they put emphasis on, hence, giving them the reason to charge what they charge.
Susanne Mariga:So, it’s the experience. It’s not just the brand, it’s the entire experience. Just like you go to Disney world and nobody cries in Disney world. You’re not allowed to cry in Disney world without being surrounded by a thousand Mickey mouses. You’re absolutely right. It’s about the experience. So, manufacturing companies, when you’re building a brand, it’s beyond just getting to know your customer, it’s about creating an experience associated with buying that. Unfortunately, what happened with Tony, the founder of Zappos recently died in a fire, but I remember the thing about Zappos is they always out beat your expectations. So, if you’re thinking I’m going to get a pair of shoes in a couple of days, you’ll get it in one day or, they’re always out beating expectations and they’re delivering happiness. They’re delivering happiness as what he says and that’s exactly what his brand is related to. It’s about if you have an impulse to buy these expensive shoes, you’re going to get them tomorrow and he’s going to get it to you before you change your mind. And, if you change your mind, he’s going to happily take it back and send me another pair.
Maureen Mwangi:Exactly. Another store that really fascinates me is the Apple store. Most of us buy probably products online, but it’s such a different experience when you go in-store. Think about how many people go to an Apple store before Covid and they’re just going to try the watch, the iPad, and probably wouldn’t even buy it because they can buy it online. It’s that experience that will never ever stop being part of the equation for a product-based business.
Susanne Mariga:I love it. In the Apple store, those geniuses just help and you almost feel bad and guilty if you don’t buy something and you walk out of that store. So yeah, definitely. Those are some amazing tips that you left us with, Maureen. One thing that I want to ask before we close out today, if you could leave any advice for our viewers and listeners and it can be personal, it can be business-related. What would that piece of advice be?
Maureen Mwangi:
My piece of advice now that you’re talking to people who are in the multi-million and they’re like, “how do I continue to scale this thing?” I would actually say that there are three shifts that need to happen, and the first shift, number one is mindset, like entrepreneurs should now start shifting from the grow, grow, grow mindset to the skill profitably mindset because that mindset brings you the peace and the calm that you need so that you’re not making decisions reactively, but more proactively like pat yourself on the back and be like, “I’ve done this, but how I’ve done it so far is not enough. I need to find a different way of doing it.” Once you approach it from that standpoint, start thinking about scaling rather than growing, because those are two different mindsets. The second thing is money. What do I mean about money?
Maureen Mwangi:
Sit down and create a worksheet or a profit plan to get you to where you want to be. Look at your revenue, where are you spending more than you need to be spending? Are you paying yourself? Are you paying people that you don’t need to be paying because you need to have a number that you’re working towards so that when you’re hiring somebody to help you scale, they know where to come in. And, then the last thing is the method, shift from tactics to strategy because what’s happening, you’re probably feeling the plateau because you’re operating on a year-to-year mentality. This is what happens, what you did last year is what you would replicate this year. Sit down and look at where I want my business to be three to five years from now, and then determine what I need to create to get there. If it’s a new product, it’ll take you a year to create it, but you have to decide what is a strategy I need right now for me to see something different three to five years from now. So it’s mindset, money, and method. 
Susanne Mariga:
I love it. And you’re right.  Before you launch, you really should be starting to create a following. That anticipation is there. I think of Apple, just because we’re talking about Apple right now, before that iPad launches or a new iWatch launches, there are videos months before about what it’s going to look like. There’s anticipation a year from before and after the new product launched, what the next year’s product is going to look like. There’s anticipation like you literally just build the excitement building. So, when it actually becomes available, you see the lines wrapped around the store because everybody can’t wait for what it has. And, I think that you said something really powerful too, Maureen, you said to focus on scaling, not just on growth.
Susanne Mariga:
Because too many companies, get into this mindset of a traditional computation, revenue minus expenses equal profits. That’s what we’re taught in school. That’s a Generally Accepted Accounting. But, the problem is that we’re teaching our entrepreneurs to be focused on sales, drop the price, they’ll make up in value, that’s what we’re teaching them. And then, we tell them, “be responsible, pay your expenses, pay them off, be responsible, don’t accumulate debt. Then whatever is left over is profit.” And the problem with that is, we never focus on our inner resolve, but when you focus on, like you said, scaling, creating margins that allow you to have those growth opportunities, later on, that’s really going to position your company to be much healthier. So, that’s brilliant. Thank you, Maureen, for sharing.
Maureen Mwangi:
You are welcome. Thank you for having me.
Susanne Mariga:Thank you. It was an honor. And, one more thing so that our viewers and listeners can contact you and work with you and get more of your morsels and experience. How do we contact you? 
Maureen Mwangi:
Oh, you find me in my exclusive Facebook group. It’s called Product Entrepreneurs Who Scale. So, go into Facebook, pop into this search bar, look for Product Entrepreneurs Who Scale. Three questions will be required for you to answer and you will find me there and I’ll be welcoming you with a message in your DM. 
Susanne Mariga:
Thank you, Maureen. And for those of you guys who are listening on with us or driving in your car, I am going to go ahead and put the link to Maureen’s group in our show notes, so that you can contact her and work with her. 
Maureen Mwangi:
Yes. Thank you, Susanne. 
Susanne Mariga:
Thank you, Maureen. Thanks for being on our show today. 
Maureen Mwangi:
Thank you for having me.
Susanne Mariga:
I want you to have your most profitable year ever. Yes! No matter what’s going on in the economy, no matter what’s going on in the world, you can have your best year ever. I want to show you how. Join me in our private Facebook group where I will be hosting our Free, Yes, I said FREE Profit First Masterclass on Facebook. Please join the Profit First Master Class with Susanne Mariga. Again, I look forward to seeing you there and watching you have your best year.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained within these podcast is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship. While we use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate and up-to-date information, we assume no liability or responsibility for any errors, omissions, or regulatory updates in the content of this video. Any U.S. federal tax advice contained within is not intended to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under U.S. federal tax law.

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