Marketers are in the transformation business every day.

Photo Credit: Erik Johansson - 21 year old Swedish photographer

                                                                                                                                     The professional marketer takes products and services and try to transform how they are viewed, perceived or understood. At its best, it is an act of simplification to clearly and succinctly express the benefit to a targeted user. When you transform something, you reshape it and change it in a way that brings value and understanding to your marketplace. 

A chef takes raw ingredients and transforms them into a wonderful celebratory meal.

A smart phone manufacturer of takes circuits and computer chips transforms them into a device to connect the world.

A researcher transforms reams of data into insight and intelligence that a business can act upon.

If your business is struggling with growth and you aren’t sure where you are headed, think of the problem through this transformation lens. Some businesses are transactional which is the opposite of one that is transformative. Transactional businesses don't truly add value. Nothing wrong with that model but it often involves very low margins and little differentiation. 

Which type are you? Answer these five questions.

1. What are the raw inputs to your business?

2. In what meaningful way is your transformation of those things (physical or intellectual) of value in the marketplace?

3. When does your transformation process occur and is it seen as different, special and unique to you?

4. Does your target audience, who will buy these products or services care about what your transformation brings to the effort?

5. Is there any emotional element that is part of this transformation that accelerates or energize the benefit you deliver? 

I worked for a several years for a company that made foam products for various industries. We served several markets including home furnishings (beds), pipe insulation and even toys. When our marketing team was challenged to develop a campaign to help communicate and raise aware of the company, we spent a long time thinking about how we wanted to be seen by potential customers. We knew that our clients valued innovation and we also understood that our tag line, in my humble opinion, was weak at expressing our real benefit. At the time the tag line was...

We Can Grow Together

That tag line represented a mistaken belief that your customers care about you and growing together. What they care about is the value and benefit you can bring to them. They want to buy innovation from you- not foam. This is an important shift in thinking that changes how you sell, how you market and the overall way you define your business. 

Our team came up with a new tag line in four simple words: 


Now a tag line is just a small piece of a marketing message but it condenses the essence of what your business is about to the world. It’s the shorthand for your elevator pitch:

“What do you guys do?”
“We transform foam into innovation”

I was always proud of this work since it stayed at a high level to express not the specific product we made (structural foam for bedding, for example) but that we were transformers who took raw material (polymers) and transformed it into innovation of value. I was tempted to refer to what we do as transfoamers but it was just a little too much for most of the team. In hind sight, it is a distinctive and ownable word we should have used. 

Try this exercise: 

Our company transforms ___________ into ____________. Our customers value the added benefit our expertise brings to them. Therefore we really don't sell _____________ but we are in the _____________ business. 

Seeing things through a transformational lens helps you to know what you are really selling to customers or clients.

What do you transform in your business and are you communicating that benefit in your marketing message?  

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