There’s an old riddle about a town with only two barbers. A businessman arrives in town for the day, and needs a haircut. He visits both shops, and notices the first shop is very neat, the barber is clean shaven, wears polished shoes, a pressed white coat, and sports a great haircut. Across town, the second shop is a mess, the barber wears scruffy clothes, doesn’t shave, and his haircut is a complete disaster.

Why does the businessman choose to have his hair cut by the scruffy barber? Because the scruffy barber must have been the one who did such a great job on the clean-shaven barber’s hair.

Branding is about proof. It’s not enough to say you do something, you have to find a way to prove it. Naturally, proof means different things to different industries.

If you’re a mobile car mechanic, it’s OK if you show up with dirty hands because that means you’ve been fixing cars all day. You don’t sell car parts, you sell the promise of a working vehicle. Every layer of grease proves other people trust you to make their broken cars work.

If your business is related to a client’s bond with something else, show you believe in that bond as much as the client does, regardless of whether or not you stand to make a sale. Be there to support the bond for free, and trust that the client will come to you when the bond is threatened and needs repair.

Getting your name out is great, but what’s better is clients who love you enough to get your name out for you. If you’re spectacular at branding, your clients will fight to get you clients because a) they know you believe in the same end goal they do, not just making a sale, and b) they want you to be in business when they need you next.

This is why no business should ever pay a “reputation management” company to write bogus positive reviews. If the clean-shaven barber cuts out a bunch of photos of people with great haircuts from a magazine and posts them on his walls, but gives every customer who comes into the shop a crummy haircut, his phony reputation will mean nothing when word of his real reputation gets around.

Focus on providing something awesome, gently ask the clients who love you the most to get the word out for you, and wait. Your awesomeness will sell itself, in time.


Today’s guest post was written by veterinarian Greg Magnusson who works and loves animals at Indianapolis veterinary clinic – Leo’s Pet Care.