The dirty little marketing secret no one is telling you

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A lot of entrepreneurs get all twisted up about branding. Either they think it is some huge, expensive thing that is only for large companies, or they get obsessed with nailing a complete brand strategy before taking the first tiny step in building a business.

Neither extreme is true.

In this podcast conversation with brand expert Liz Dennery-Sanders, we discuss what branding is and isn’t, what is critical to know about branding at any stage of business, and how you must pay attention to every part of how you do business if you want your marketing efforts to be effective.

Download the interview here directly:
Or listen on the embedded player below:

To illustrate what we talked about in the interview, Liz shares this post:

The dirty little marketing secret no one is telling you

By Liz Dennery Sanders

Why is it that some entrepreneurs have clients lining up outside their door and a waiting list a mile long, while others are struggling to pay the rent?

Why is it that most entrepreneurs are busy, busy, busy with their marketing tasks, but only a handful are truly effective?

There’s a dirty little secret in the marketing world that no one’s telling you.

Until now.

Think about it. You’ve put up a website, jumped on every social media platform that’s come along, signed up for all the “important” conferences and even invested in a cool new logo and business cards.

But your phone is gathering dust and other than a gazillion unwanted solicitations, your inbox has seen better days. You’ve been doing everything you think you’re “supposed” to be doing to market your business, but you’re still not attracting your ideal clients.

Well, here’s the Truth with a capital T:

If you don’t have a strong brand, your marketing will never work.

In order for a marketing strategy to be successful, you’ve got to have a solid brand foundation.

This means:

  • You are clear about who you are, what you offer and why you do it
  • You intimately understand your target market and position yourself as the solution to their problems
  • You know your superpowers and you use them daily
  • You communicate your value with ease
  • You lead with your heart and your passion, which enables others to make an emotional connection with you

In other words, we need to see and FEEL your awesome in order to connect with you in a meaningful way.

Let me tell you about my client, Margaret.

A self-proclaimed business coach, Margaret came to me because she was unclear as to why she wasn’t attracting clients, even though she was “doing everything right” from a marketing stand point.

To her, doing everything right meant putting up a website, getting on every social media platform possible, attending networking events and conferences and working 60+ hours a week.

Watching her made me dizzy.

Margaret was making the mistake that so many women entrepreneurs are making today: she put the marketing cart before the brand horse.

When we drilled down to WHY Margaret became a business coach in the first place, I found out that, because of her own experiences, she has very strong desire to help other women become successful, especially women over 40 who are either just starting a business or are completely reinventing themselves.

Margaret struggled with a slew of nasty bosses in her 20’s and 30’s, went back to school to get her coaching certification in her early 40’s, and now at 46, has claimed her independence and wants to help others do the same.


When I shared with Margaret that this was one of the keys to becoming more successful – positioning herself to work with a specific group of people – she was initially fearful and concerned.

“But I don’t want to exclude anyone from working with me,” she said, “I’m afraid I won’t have enough clients.”

My response: “Well, how’s that working for you so far?”

Margaret thought that by being available to anyone and everyone, she would certainly attract more clients. Instead, it was actually repelling them.

A confused mind never buys. On the other hand, a crystal clear, passionate message, directed at the right people, makes an emotional connection that leads to a relationship. And a relationship is the first step toward building brand evangelists.

When someone would ask Margaret what she did for a living, she used to say something like, “I’m a Business Coach,” or “I help entrepreneurs thrive in their business.” Her website and marketing materials had more of the same: Non-committal and often confusing content that was trying to be all things to all people. Not exactly a client magnet.

Now Margaret’s response is something like this: I help women over 40 either start a business or completely reinvent themselves – sometime it’s both! As a Business Coach, Entrepreneurial Evangelist and someone who has gained my own independence from the corporate world, I will help you find the passion AND the profit in your business and help you grow.

The next time you find yourself whiplashed by the latest and greatest bright, shiny marketing tools, first make sure you are clear about your brand and confident about the value you provide. This is a necessary step to make sure your marketing will be effective.

Liz Dennery Sanders is a brand and creative strategist, personal development coach and the founder of, a global online business dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs build their confidence, their brands and their bank accounts. Previously, Liz garnered millions of dollars in press value for brands such as Escada, Hale Bob, Anastasia, Blue Cult and Elyse Walker, and connected them directly with A-list celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Kelly Rutherford, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Garner, Cindy Crawford and Marcia Cross. A member of the Vogue 100, a hand-selected group of 100 influential decision makers and opinion leaders across the country, Liz is known for her distinctive taste in style, design and culture.

Liz is offering a brand new class to help you unlock your brand superpowers. It starts Monday, June 18 – Details here:

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16 Responses to “The dirty little marketing secret no one is telling you”

  1. […] The dirty little marketing secret no one is telling you – do you have a solid brand? If not, you should read this article on why not having one might be hurting your bottom line. […]

  2. I believe strongly in brands. I use personal branding daily. I’ve used the power of branding for all my businesses. I can’t stress enough the importance of eliminating confusing messaging no matter what kind of business you have. The lack of a clear message can spell doom. It frustrates me when a new business pops up with a great product or service but muddled marketing. We have a new storefront called Peace Bank open in our area. Can you guess what they sell?

    No? It’s yoga clothing.

  3. R W Rogers says:

    Love the info., but tried listening on ITunes and here. The sound levels in the conversation between Pam and Liz were off. Had to turn down Pam and turn up Liz repeatedly. I know there is a free sound ‘leveler’ for podcasters that solves the problem, but don’t remember the name. Using it would help greatly. Just a suggestion.

  4. Dana Leavy says:

    This is such an important part, and very well explained. I try to look at my brand as the “personality” of my business. And being a visual person trying to appeal to other visual people, namely creatives, I love the idea of my brand having this face to it that resonates with who I am on a personal level. I think when potential customers can get a sense of the person behind the brand, they’re much more likely to trust and engage. It’s even true to job seekers as well, when you take the idea of personal branding, and creating a unique identity around your skills to appeal to a specific audience. Thanks!

  5. So true. I saw this quote on Pinterest the other day that says: “I just awesomed all over the place!” At first I thought it was hilarious, but then I realized there is truth in this if you simply believed.

    Back when I was still starting out as a Filipino Virtual Assistant, I felt I was no good compared to other VAs but soon after my mentor, Michelle Dale changed my outlook about myself and the potential within me, life and business took a very sharp turn.

    Inspiring Post!

  6. Great thoughts, Liz. Commitment, clarity, and communication. Love it.

  7. “But I don’t want to exclude anyone from working with me,” she said, “I’m afraid I won’t have enough clients.” translates to “I’m scared to define who I want to work with.” EVERY TIME! Happiness and clients both come from saying exactly who you want to work with in your business. Thank you for sharing, Liz!

  8. I love the idea of not having a solid brand as being “non-committal.” Just like the guy who tells you he won’t be exclusive because he doesn’t want to limit his options, quality people will gravitate towards those who can give them a commitment.

  9. Wow ! Such a nice post.
    I think it is all about emotions and the unique value of promise you offer.
    You need to show the world why you exist and not what you are..and i think that’s pretty much it

    • You’re absolutely right, Prashhant. If you want to build a powerful brand, you’ve got to earn a piece of real estate in your potential client’s heart and mind. In other words, you’ve got to make an emotional connection by sharing your WHY. Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Many thanks for your comments, Abdul. I think you nailed it – branding well is actually a huge competitive advantage and doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Last time I checked, caring about your community and sharing your personality don’t cost a dime. 🙂

  11. Abdul says:

    This is a great guide for starter bloggers and entrepreneurs. I too feel that branding, if done right, can be the most powerful tool that a business can possess and often helps business gain their much needed advantage over their competitors. Splendid job, Liz. 🙂

  12. Faisal – That’s where us graphic designers come in…

    Liz – Thanks for a clear, concise article that sums it up nicely!

  13. faisal says:

    But building a strong brand is the real challenge, everybody wants to but how to do it is the question.