Entrepreneurs thrive when they act like a blowfish, not a whale

Entrepreneurs are those people who dare to take a risk. They are the ones who say “yes” to their ideas and put in all their efforts to their startup to make them become a reality. 

I remember when I was at the startup stage. My life felt very simple. I had money going out and money coming in. In a fit of desperation, a startup can mistakenly believe all revenue is good revenue, so we tend to chase after any sale. 

Having been there, I’m empathetic to the entrepreneur facing zero revenues. The risk of going after any revenue is that you chase everyone. You are also willing to show up how they wish you to show up. After a few years, you won’t even know what you sell or whom you target.

Blowfish marketing

A whale is huge. Every category has a huge power player brand. They are the whale. Not you. They are a huge conglomerate filled with bureaucrats. They have tons of resources. The whale can afford to be everywhere—every store. And in every media channel. They can sell to a broader audience.

As a startup, you can’t be the whale. You will be squashed. When you try to be everywhere, you will spread your resources so thin; you won’t be anywhere. And, when you try to stand for everything, no one will know what you stand for. After a while, you won’t stand for anything. If you do not define yourself, your competitor or customers will. And, you will not like how they define you. 

A blowfish strategy will make your startup seem bigger than you are

In the ocean, a blowfish has a unique ability to fill its extremely elastic stomach with water (or air when outside the water) until it appears much larger to scare off any attackers.

In business, you can use a blowfish to appear bigger than you are. Take your entire marketing budget and put it against one target market whom you know you can move. 

To establish a reputation, you need to know what you stand for. Know what you will do and what you won’t do. Talk about what your target will get and how you will make them feel. Simplify your message by saying what is most motivating to those already motivated by what you offer.

When you act like a blowfish, choose fewer activities, so each activity has enough resources to be meaningful. Choose one media, one geography, one selling channel. To those you reach, your brand will appear bigger than you are. To those who do not care, you will be invisible. 

A good entrepreneur must know whom they are selling to, what they are selling, how they should sell it, and what activities are the best choices to pay back.

And don’t deviate.

The 5 rules for acting like a blowfish

  1. Pick a focused target market: While it’s tempting to sell to everyone.  Focus your resources on those most likely to buy. Realizing not everyone can like you is the first step to focus on those that can love you. Who wants you?
  2. Know what you stand for: Create a focused brand positioning. Start with the target market you just picked, and assess their need states to see where you can best match up. The best brands are either better, different, or cheaper. Or they are not around for much longer. Which will you be? 
  3. Pick a focused strategy: Brands need to understand where they sit before picking strategies. Understand your strategy’s market impact and the performance result it creates for your company. 
  4. Focus on fewer activities: While everyone talks return on investment (ROI), I like return on effort (ROE) as well. With fewer activities, each will receive all of your passion. You will be able to do a better job on everything you do.
  5. Repeat: When you are successful, you will have more resources. Repeat rules 1-4 over and over. Continue to focus.

Entrepreneurs are the backbone of the economy

Entrepreneurs create new businesses and make them grow from startup to a sustainable business that employs people.

Those who want to become entrepreneurs should start with having a good plan for their business. They should have a vision and be passionate about it. They also need to have some knowledge in their industry or field, as well as in business planning.

The word entrepreneur is derived from French (entreprendre) and means “to undertake”. It originally meant “to undertake without payment”. Nowadays, it refers to anyone who owns or operates a business or company regardless if they receive payment or not.

Entrepreneurs who cannot focus will fail

The most prominent myth is your brand will get bigger if you have a broader target market.

The reality is too many startups target anyone. I will always argue it is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many. Create a tight bond with a core base of brand fans.  Then use that fan support to expand your following.

The second myth to becoming a more prominent brand is to believe a brand stands for everything. 

Some brands try to say everything possible with the hope the consumer hears anything.

The reality is that hope is never a strategy. To be loved by consumers, a brand must stand for something with a backbone and conviction. Trying to be everything to anyone just ends up becoming nothing to everyone.

The third myth is that your brand will be bigger if you try to be everywhere.  

Whether that means you are in every sales channel or on every possible media option.

The reality is the worst startups lack focus because they fear missing out on someone or something. By trying to be everywhere, the brand will drain itself and eventually end up being nowhere. If you went to Las Vegas and put a chip on every square, you would be bankrupt before midnight.

Every brand has limited resources, whether they’re financial, time, people, or partnerships. 

Entrepreneurs always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices. Those choices show up with the possible target market, brand messages, strategies, or tactics. 

The smartest entrepreneurs use blowfish marketing to limit their choices to match up to their limited resources. They focus on those choices that will have the greatest market impact and deliver the highest return.


Startups should take on a craft brand strategy

Craft brands must win a small space in the marketplace that offers something unique to a highly engaged target. These brands succeed when they are far enough away from major competitors that the leaders ignore them because craft brands stay hidden away. 

Craft brands build themselves behind a micro-benefit, including gluten-free, low fat, locally grown, organic, or ethically sourced.

These craft brands take an antagonistic approach to the rest of the category, portraying every other brand in the category as old-school, overly corporate, unethical, flawed in the manufacturing or the use of ingredients.

Many times, these startup brands take a very aggressive marketing stance, calling out the other brands as unethical or stupid.

Five things happen when an entrepreneur acts like a blowfish

  1. Better ROI: With all the resources against one strategy, one target, one message, you’ll find out if the strategy you’ve chosen is able to actually move consumers drive sales, or other key performance indicators.
  2. Better ROE: Start-ups need to make the most out of your people resources.
  3. Strong Reputation: When you only do one thing, you naturally start to become associated with that one thing—externally and even internally. And, eventually, you become very good at that one thing.
  4. More Competitive: As your startups reputation grows, you begin to own that one thing and you are able to better defend the positioning territory
  5. Bigger and Better P&L: As the focused effort drives results, it opens up the P&L with higher sales and profits. And that means more resources will be put into the effort to drive even higher growth.

Learn more about how to find your brand positioning

To find your ideal brand positioning statement, you want to find the space that is most motivating to consumers. And, find the space that is most ownable for your brand. Our brand positioning statement process starts with a defined consumer target your brand will serve. Then, we focus on the emotional and functional benefits that differentiate your brand. Further, we use support points to help differentiate your brand from competitors. Perfect for the startup brands. We do have an online course for brand positioning

brand positioning statement processd

Learn more about how to write marketing plans

A strategic marketing plan gets everyone on the same page, including senior management, sales, product development, customer service and your agency partners. So, we have a one-page brand plan to help. That way, everyone drives against the same vision, key issues, strategies, and tactics. Throughout this article, I will show how to write a marketing plan, with a few marketing plan examples. And, we have a marketing plan template you can purchase. Perfect for the startups. We do have an online course for planning

B2B Brands is the playbook to help grow your business

Our B2B Brands playbook uses our brand concepts to help business-to-business marketers drive growth on their brand.

  • With B2B Brands, we want to challenge you with questions that get you to think differently about your brand strategy.
  • Moreover, we take you through our process for defining your brand positioning. We will open your mind to new possibilities for how you see your brand. To help, we use examples of brand positioning for B2B brands.
  • To start, we will show you how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow so they know precisely how they can contribute to your brand’s success.
  • In addition, we will show you how to run the creative execution process, show you how to write an inspiring brief, and make decisions to find both smart and breakthrough communications.
  • Finally, you will learn new methods to analyze the performance of your brand with a deep-dive business review.

Most importantly, our B2B Brands playbook offers a variety of B2B case studies and examples to help the B2B marketing professional learn new methods. Equally, 90% of our Amazon reviewers have given us a 5-star rating.

Brand Management Mini MBA

Invest in your future. If you are an ambitious marketer, looking to solidify your marketing skills, our Brand Management Mini MBA will teach you about strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand plans, advertising decisions, and marketing analytics. 

Have a look at our brochure on our Mini MBA program

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You get 36 training videos and our Brand Toolkit ($200 value) that has over 120 PowerPoint slides you can use for presentations on brand plans, brand positioning, and business reviews. We provide key chapters from our Beloved Brands Playbook, and a Brand Management Workbook with exercises to try in real-time. Earn a certificate you can use on your resume or LinkedIn profile. 

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Graham Robertson

Email: graham@beloved-brands.com

Phone: 416–885–3911

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