Sabir x Orly Zeewy
Top Marketing Insights And Strategies For Startups With Orly Zeewy
Orly Zeewy is a brand architect who provides clarity and direction for startups, entrepreneurs, and major brands. She appeared on the latest episode of This Week With Sabir to offer some of her expert insights into brand marketing, including the following:
- Simplify: Simplification is key and should be implemented in all aspects of your business. Stop trying to sell products and services that cater to every possible customer. Remove the clutter from your website and make your message simple. Keep your focus narrow and don’t try to cast your net as wide as possible.
- Make the Fuzzy Clear: Are you clear on who you are, who your customers are, and where you’re heading? If not, it’s time to gain some clarity. Even if you think you have everything figured out, there’s a good chance that you’re relying on assumptions. Orly went into more detail on this topic during our discussion and included a few examples.
- Don’t Make Price your Differentiator: If price is the thing that makes you unique, the reason that customers buy your products, you’re heading down a slippery slope. When price is the only thing you have, there’s always a chance that someone else will come along and offer the same products for less. More importantly, it means your customers won’t miss you when you’re gone. Rethink your strategy, find a new USP, and start offering more value.
- You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: If you’re not a writer, you shouldn’t be doing all of the copywriting. If you have no experience with marketing and have only just been introduced to Google Ads, you shouldn’t be the one handling your marketing. Freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr mean it’s easier than ever to hire skilled freelancers on limited-time contracts, so use them to your advantage.
- Use LinkedIn Properly: LinkedIn is a massively underused and unappreciated platform when it comes to professional marketing. Orly provided some insights into using this platform, including focusing on your banner, picture, and title above all else. First impressions are everything on LinkedIn, so keep it professional and brief, and don’t bore them with a wall of text.
After providing these priceless tips, Orly Zeewy gave her biggest insight of all, reminding listeners to “figure out who they are” both as an individual and a business.
After all, if you don’t know who you are, you can’t expect your customers to understand you either.
Brand Marketing Insights With Orly Zeewy
Orly Zeewy has been described as a “facilitator of lightbulb moments”. She specializes in making the fuzzy clear, providing much-needed clarity to cluttered startups struggling to find their place.
She is the author of Ready, Launch, Brand: The Lean Marketing Guide for Startups and has worked with brands of all shapes and sizes, making her the perfect guest for This Week With Sabir.
She even offered a free and exclusive marketing guide for everyone who reads this blog. You can find the guide here.
I was delighted to welcome Orly on the show this week, as it gave me the opportunity to pick her brain on key topics relating to brand marketing.
Where you’re launching a new startup, seeking to increase sales, or building a personal brand, the following tips and insights will help.
Less Is More
The idea that “less is more” comes from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, an architect who specialized in a minimalist design style. But it also applies in the world of business.
One of the first things that business owners try to do is appeal to as many people as possible.
It seems like the common sense approach. After all, you need as many customers as possible, and if you create products or services that cast a wide net, you have 8 billion potential customers.
But in reality, it doesn’t work like that.
The wider you cast your net, the less focused you become. You lose sight of what you are as a brand, and that means customers don’t truly understand what it is that you do.
It’s also a marketing problem, as all those additional products and services mean you have to compete for more demographics and spend more money.
And then you have an element of risk, as trying to cover all bases will inevitably mean that you’re buying products that won’t sell and appealing to customers that don’t care. It can become a money pit.
One of the examples that I often use is the show Kitchen Nightmares, hosted by Gordon Ramsey.
Chef Ramsay would visit failing restaurants, highlight the problems, and then try to turn them around.
In the first 10 minutes of each episode, we’d see Chef Ramsey sit down at a table and pick up a menu the size of a Tolkien masterpiece.
There would be dozens of appetizers, main courses, and desserts, often spread across 10+ pages.
For the restaurants, it was a no-brainer—the more meals they had, the more people they could please.
But when you give customers so many choices, they will just stare at the menu for 20 minutes, find several dishes they like, and then struggle to pick one.
More importantly, having such a large menu means that vast quantities of ingredients have to be purchased and everything can’t be cooked fresh.
The result is that the restaurant loses money, customers are unhappy, and no one wins.
100% of the time, Ramsay would simplify the menu, focus on freshness, and greatly improve the restaurant’s prognosis.
The same is true for every other business.
One of the first things that Orly does when working with a business is to remove the clutter.
If something shouldn’t be there, it needs to go.
Stock, products, services, staff, practices—if you don’t need it, get rid of it.
Don’t be a hoarder. Don’t collect products and demographics.
The reason business owners hoard like this is that they’re worried about leaving something out.
If we use an example of a restaurant, you might create a few popular dishes but then realize that you should have a few burgers, pizzas, salads, and sandwiches on there. And you can’t possibly have a restaurant without a cheesecake. But if you’re going to have cheesecakes, you should have pies, and if you’re going to have sandwiches, you should have wraps and burritos.
It's like planning a wedding or party on a budget. You start with a manageable and realistic guestlist, but then get carried away (if Auntie Linda is coming, then Uncle John, cousin Pete, cousin Pete’s wife, and cousin Matthew also need an invite). Before you know it, you’ve invited half the state.
Be strict. Be realistic. Your success could depend on it.
Making Fuzzy Clear
At the outset of this guide, I said that Orly’s specialty was “making fuzzy clear”. So, what does that mean?
Well, during our discussion, she gave a few examples of this.
One of these examples was from a summer camp.
According to the owners of the camp, the main focus was the lake. The fact that the camp was near a lake was key and would surely be important to the parents and kids.
But when Orly conducted a survey of those parents, she found that the main priority was to educate, teach, and inspire the children.
Only a couple of parents mentioned the lake. For everyone else, there were far more important things, and many of those things had been overlooked by the camp’s owners.
It harks back to something that Paul Butler mentioned during an early episode of This Week With Sabir.
Butler talked about the importance of challenging assumptions, as they’re often wrong.
As a business, you need to understand what you are, what you do, why your customers like you, and who those customers are.
If any of those areas are fuzzy, then gain some clarity!
Don’t do something just because someone else is doing it or that’s the way you’ve been told. Make sure your actions have a reason and you understand that reason.
In the camp example, knowing what people care about the most means you can structure your marketing around those benefits.
Rather than highlighting your location and the pristine lake nearby, you can focus on the activities, the experience of your staff, and safety standards that foster a caring environment in which children can learn, socialize, and have fun.
Price Should Never Be Your Differentiator
What makes you unique as a business?
What are the reasons that customers choose to buy your products over those of your competitors?
There are many ways to answer this question, but there is one way it should never be answered:
“We are the cheapest.”
If price is the differentiator, your customers won’t miss you when you’re gone.
There will always be someone cheaper. If you disappear, your customers will go elsewhere.
It also means that you’re constantly fighting to be the cheapest, keeping the margins as low as possible and losing profits as a result.
You should always provide value elsewhere, whether it’s in the quality of your product, the speed of your shipping, or the professionalism of your customer support.
This is true for all companies. I previously discussed this topic with Sasha Der Avanessian, who spoke about value in a B2B context. It was also key to my discussion with the founders of Magic Spoon.
A few years ago, I gave this advice to an entrepreneur who was launching his own business and trying to be the cheapest on the market.
His response was, “But, it works for Amazon”.
Firstly, if you’re comparing yourself to multi-billion dollar brands as a startup on a budget, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Secondly, price is not what makes Amazon unique. Sure, it has some of the cheapest books, groceries, and games. But it also has the fastest shipping and a completely hassle-free ordering process.
We’re talking about a company that lets you order products using smart voice technology before shipping them to your door within 12 hours.
If Amazon were to disappear tomorrow, millions of people would miss them. The same can’t be said for a small company that offers cheap products and nothing else.
Promoting Yourself And Your Business On LinkedIn
Orly briefly touched upon LinkedIn during our conversation, noting that it is very important for marketing and branding and yet often underused.
The problem with LinkedIn is that it’s rarely used properly.
People see it as a platform to post their résumé and then ignore. It’s a way for them to make connections, show off their skills, and get some work if they are lucky.
But it’s much more than that.
The trick is that you have to capture the user’s attention in just a couple of seconds and that all comes down to the banner, image, and title. It doesn’t matter how detailed your description is and how well-written it is. First impressions count for everything, so work on the title, banner, and other basics.
As with your business and everything else that you do, it’s all about simplifying.
Don’t try to cover every possible thing that you can and make sure all of your experience, qualifications, and traits have been covered in full.
If a strange lands on your profile and sees a profile picture that was seemingly taken during your prom and then cropped, followed by a wall of text saying how great you are and listing your qualifications, do you think they’ll stick around?
But if the picture is professional, the title is catchy, and your “About” section is succinct, they will stay and read it.
Orly recommends avoiding anything to do with your children, pets, relationships, and hobbies. You can save that stuff for Instagram and Facebook. You have a personal life, and that’s great, but this is not the place to talk about it.
You should also include a call to action, whether it’s a contact link, a phone call request, or something else. You must prompt them to do something by the time they make it to the end of your profile.
For more information, check out a recent This Week With Sabir episode that was all about succeeding on LinkedIn. This is especially helpful if you are trying to build a personal brand as an executor, influencer, or entrepreneur.
Clean Up Your Website
Many business owners assume that websites are pointless, either because they do most of their sales through social media/offline, or because they’re a service provider.
They don’t get many sales through their site, so they pay little attention to it.
But the reason no one’s buying could be because your website is terrible.
It might not be the thing that drives most of your sales, but it can still make a massive difference to your business.
If you’re not an expert, hire someone who is. Can’t write? Hire a copywriter. Can’t design or develop? Hire a designer/developer.
You’ll need to pay for their services, but good writers, designers, and developers are worth their weight in gold.
The same applies to other areas of your business. You might be able to save a few bucks by doing the work yourself, but what’s the real cost of that?
Unless you’re a marketing expert, you can’t market your products as effectively and efficiently as someone who knows what they’re doing. If you’re not a developer, you’ll end up with a website that looks like it was pieced together as part of a high school project.
By the same token, don’t rely on your niece/nephew or neighbor’s child. Unless you happen to live next door to a whizz kid or have an exceptional writer in the family, you’re better off with an actual professional.
These days, sites like Upwork and Fiverr mean it has never been easier to find a qualified, competent freelancer who can give you the content that you need. And as they often work on a fixed price basis, you’ll know what to expect and won’t be surprised by a budget that spirals out of control.
The $100,000 Question
Figure out who you are and ignore everything else.
That was Orly’s response when I asked for her most valuable piece of advice.
It can be difficult to choose the product or direction that you like the most. It will feel like choosing a favorite child, but it’s important and will make a difference.
It’s about cutting through the noise and gaining some clarity.
Not only will it reduce your outgoings and risk, but it also lets your customers know who you are, what you do, and where you’re headed.
When she says, “figure out who you are”, she doesn’t mean you should make a few basic assumptions or copy your competitors. You are unique, you just need to find out why.
For some advice on conducting research into your own products, services, and brand identity, check out this guide to qualitative research with Clark Murray. You should also watch my video with Bryan Mattimore, an expert in product development.
About Orly Zeewy
Orly Zeewy is an author, speaker, and facilitator of lightbulb moments. Her superpower? She makes fuzzy clear. She turns generic messaging into clear marketing messages that help startups, and early-stage companies cut through the noise to attract their ideal customers and scale fast.
In addition to her consulting work, Orly is a popular speaker and guest on business podcasts. She has been interviewed on more than a dozen podcasts, including the Help! My Business is Growing, When It Worked with Julian Leahy, CEO on the go, and Angel Invest Boston with Sal Daher.
Orly has been featured in Medium, and her articles have been published in national publications such as The Marketing Journal, Smart Hustle, and Lioness Magazine. Her book: Ready, Launch, Brand: The Lean Marketing Guide for Startups was published by Routledge in May 2021 and was the #1 new business book released on Amazon in April 2021.