Even having grown up in Louisiana, jambalaya confuses me.
I've seen my dad make jambalaya dozens of times in my life, yet I've never "watched" him make it. To the casual observer, jambalaya is a hodgepodge of ingredients from the refrigerator and usually whatever meat that happens to be lying around. I always assumed he was just throwing in anything he could find that hadn't passed an expiration date. Little did I know, he had an exact recipe...his recipe.
First of all, it HAS to be made in a large cast-iron pot, as this keeps everything from sticking while also allowing the spices to marinate. It HAS to have the "Cajun holy trinity" of ingredients: onions, bell pepper, and celery. These simple ingredients also form the basis from which gumbo and etouffee originated and are a culinary staple in South Louisiana. Thirdly, since the rice is added in with the ingredients and not after, you have to be precise in how you stir, or you run the risk of ending up with rice mush. Lastly, and most important, you MUST make sure not to rush it. Great jambalaya is made when the ingredients and spices have time to marinate together along with a slow boiling heat.
Growing your brand and your MSP business is no different than making a great jambalaya. It looks fairly straight-forward to the casual observer, yet takes precision, the right ingredients, and time to marinate. How many of us rush into it, only to end up with rice mush?
What am I doing wrong? I’ve looked at the final product without taking into account the process. I opened the refrigerator door and grabbed ingredients, but they weren't the right ingredients.
Above, we touched on the "holy trinity" ingredients for Jambalaya, which are also the staple for most great Cajun dishes. The reason that those are so important, is because they lay the foundation for everything else. Your MSP business is no different. You have to start with your “holy trinity” foundation each and every day, rinse, and repeat.
1. Clear Vision (Celery):
Try to remember the days before Google Maps and GPS. The days when you'd load into the car and your parents would unfold that map that would barely leave any room for them to still see the road. They'd plot the destination and start reverse engineering every road that they'd have to take to get there. They knew where they wanted to go, but they had to map out how to get there.
Your business is no different. How you want to be known in the market, the types of customers you want to attract and how you want them to feel when they do business with you all needs to be thought through and documented. That is where your brand starts. It’s how you make people feel.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room” - Jeff Bezos
Great brands and companies don’t just happen overnight on a whim. They take time, intention, and starting each and every day with a clear vision of who you want to become.
Grab your map, crank up the music, and hit the road.
2. Consistency (Onions):
Consistency doesn't mean when it fits around your schedule. Consistency means shutting off Game of Thrones and putting in the work. Consistency is chopping up the onions, bell pepper and celery each and every day.
As you’re building your company and your brand, consistency becomes just as important as everything else. There is an old adage in marketing known as the 7x rule, which states that a potential customer needs to see your company’s message 7 times before it starts to stick with them. That could be three times on social media, twice in their Google search results and twice from a referral. You can’t simply post something once on Facebook or LinkedIn, and sit back and wait for people to call your phone or knock on your door. It doesn’t work that way.
In the same way that you have to have a clearly defined and documented vision, you have to do the same with your consistency. What is your first phone call like with a prospect? Does one prospect get one version of you on the phone and another prospect get a different version?
You control how you interact with clients, how an experience with your company is at a trade show, and most every other interaction. What are you doing with it? Does it vary from day to day, trade show to trade show? Why?
Consistency is key. You want to build positive brand equity with your customers every single time they interact with you. But again, these things don’t happen on their own. You have to be meticulous in what you want their desired experience to be.
3. Connection (Bell Pepper):
Connection means building genuine relationships. Genuine relationships with your customers that are focused on THEM.
Let’s unpack that a bit.
Back before Amazon was the behemoth that it is today, they would use this tactic in their boardroom that you can use today. It is designed to always think of the customer first, regardless of what new product, service, or marketing campaign that you’re currently working on. For the sake of this example, we’re going to call this exercise, “Getting To Know Howard”. Howard is your ideal client.
While sitting around a long boardroom table, Jeff Bezos and his team would each go around talking about whatever initiatives each person’s team was heading up. The head of Marketing would talk about all things marketing, the head of Product would talk all things product, and so on and so on. What is really amazing about what happens next is the intention. They would intentionally leave an empty chair at the head of the table. That chair was reserved for “Howard”. So as they’re going around the table, one-by-one, sharing the latest product updates or marketing campaign ideas, they’d eventually get all the way around to the empty chair… to “Howard’s” chair. This forced them to switch lenses and think through Howard’s eyes.
Is the stock market dropping and Howard may be a bit nervous about the next quarter’s expenses? Has Product done a good enough job of getting feedback from “Howard” before they roll out a new feature? Is Marketing speaking directly to “Howard” or are they talking about themselves?
Remember, everything about your brand is how you make your customers FEEL. Both positive and negative experiences with your company have an impact on your brand.
Now that you’ve got the “Holy Trinity” foundation of building your MSP brand for success, feel free to add your own spices. Also remember everything from how to cook jambalaya. Having the right foundation is the first step. Now you have to add your spice, and give it time to marinate. Is anyone else hungry now?
Be sure to download the PDF assets to get clarity and consistency. Download here.