Simply because they have got their definition of what branding is completely wrong. They have pursued brand building and developed great brands, but they just don’t call the process by its correct name like brand development.

Why is this important you ask? Because then business owners will find it so much easier to find the right information and educate themselves on the stuff that can make or break their business – marketing!

Here’s a case in point.

I’m reading yet another “Secrets to Business Success” article aimed at small business owners. It’s in the My Business Magazine July 2012 edition, that reviews Mark Bouris’s (the founder of Wizard home loans and subsequently Yellow Brick Road as well as the boss in the Australian version of The Apprentice) speech and advice to the SME business owners given in May 2012.

What gets under this marketing consultant’s skin is that SME business owners are still looking for and hoping for a silver bullet, a magic pill to fix all of their problems.

So what are the secrets and advice given by one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs especially to the SME sector?
To be fair in today’s live presentation, that I had the privilege of attending in Melbourne, Mark Bouris, a great and inspirational speaker, states that there are no secrets, but it makes for a great headline that publishers love and readers can’t get enough of – something for all entrepreneurs to keep in mind when trying to generate their own publicity.

Before I provide a summary of Mark’s speech from My Business magazine, I have to get passionate, or in Mark’s words “fight” for what I know to be true – the fact that he has inadvertently stuffed up his definition of Marketing and Branding!

As a marketing consultant, I’m amazed that someone like Mark Bouris, can in the same sentence say that “…you’ve got to have something that’s unique. It’s not about marketing and branding; these three things are really important: the idea or concept, how hard you can work and are you more skilled in your area or is your product better?”

The actual word brand is all about being unique. Branding IS differentiation. Branding is already the most misunderstood word in the business language, so having someone who is a brilliant and successful entrepreneur and marketer, someone who has the influence and mass media exposure, muddy the waters, is only contributing to the confusion faced by SMEs!

Branding is what people think and feel about when they experience your product or service. Like most business owners Mr Bouris’s definition and use of “marketing and branding” is completely wrong, in fact the 3 things he refers to ARE what marketing and branding is all about! Marketing is simply about satisfying needs not selling or promoting which is just how most business owners use these terms. In the words of Peter Drucker, businesses about two things and two things only; marketing and innovation.

Now to summarise the rest of the inspirational article.

1. Understand why you’re in business.
-Working for yourself?
-Being successful?
-Helping people?
Ultimately the question is about what drives you, what gets you out of bed in the morning?

2. Sheer hard work.
A self-confessed workaholic Mr Bouris concedes that his work habits have cost him two marriages (and a fortune in divorce settlements) and advocates that hard work is the key to being better than your competitors through ongoing improvement.

Although I agree that there is no escaping hard work, unless you enjoy it you simply will not be able to do it day in day out, and this is certainly no secret. The real secret should be to work smarter not harder and focus on the things that will make the greatest contribution to business. And it is this focus that is so damn hard to achieve for most of us, with emails and calls, and more distractions than ever before.

3. Understand what business you are really in.
This is a critical way to examine your business. Is Yellow Brick Road in the financial advice business or the mortgage business? No, that’s how they execute the actual business. Their actual business is helping people achieve their dreams and hopes. It’s the old ‘sell benefits not features’. To paraphrase Max Factor, who when asked what businesses he was is, replied by pointing to the factory and said “…in there we make creams and powders and then pointed to the street and said out there we sell hope to women.”

4. Be involved in an environment that’s a rising tide.
In other words go where the demand is, don’t try to generate it, as that’s not only to hard but also too expensive. Inventing something new and then trying to sell it to everyone is extremely hard to do.

5. Having the right culture is critical.
Without a team that is able to have fun together, take risks and stay together through good times and bad, there is no business.

6. Failures are successes too because they provide an opportunity to learn and adjust your course of action.

7. Having the right business partner, someone you can share highs and lows with, someone to bounce ideas off and to make decisions together with is critical.

I would add that having clearly defined roles will also make a partnership much more effective with each partner being in charge of a separate area will minimize disagreements.