Meet Benj Miller, Founder of Syrup Marketing where his mission is to connect ideas, systems, people and resources to build amazing organizations. Just as the name suggests, Benj focuses on building “brand stickiness” by helping core stakeholders of a particular company to understand (and perhaps even discover) the core fundamentals and identity of their brand and then marketing to their true customers. Benj is also co-founder of two additional companies: Code Smith Development – an agile development team that can bring big ideas to life and Transcend CRE – A Commercial Real Estate Brokerage that utilizes a concierge approach in designing and preparing applicable workspaces that reflect the culture of the business.
In this episode Benj shares his personal story of his own personal journey of discovering his own identity at its core and building his life around that by staying true to who he is. He gives outstanding and poignant advice for anyone aspiring to be an entrepreneur and even perhaps those who are currently struggling in their current business ventures. Benj is based in Atlanta, GA with his wife and four children.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW? [03:50]
If I’ve got my game face on and I give them [the person who asks] the clear answer I would say that I connect people, ideas and resources to build amazing companies.
EVOLUTION OF SYRUP MARKETING [05:12]
Benj founded EyeSpeak approximately 12 years ago and then explains how he merged EyeSpeak’s resources in September, 2014 to form Syrup Marketing.
BENJ EXPLAINS BRAND STICKINESS [08:28]
It really starts with “brand identity”. That’s a process of really understanding who you are as a company. So, what is your personality? What is your character? Being able to answer; who are you? Why does that matter? Who is your audience? Once you really really figure out who you are then you can begin to communicate directly with the people that matter.
Benj goes on to explain that many business leaders are fear driven and are afraid that if they don’t market to everyone, they might alienate somebody. Benj explains the importance of marketing directly to your true customer.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BRAND IDENTITY EXERCISES THAT YOU TAKE A COMPANY THROUGH? [13:00]
Benj shares his program called: Purpose in Power. He selects a maximum of 6 key stake holders of the company and facilitates an off-site, inside-out discussion and approach by identifying what the company really represents. He stresses that his approach may have implications that can affect company culture and processes because the goal is to identify and appropriately represent the core fundamentals of the brand.
Benj goes on to give a wonderful brand identity transformation of a printing company – PSP.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BUSINESS IDEAS? [28:34]
Benj explains that when he sees a market opportunity or has a big idea, he physically logs it in a “Big Idea” book that he revisits often.
I’m looking at two things when I’m validating an idea. The first one is more of the decision of: Is this a good idea to pursue? I just call it distribution. What I mean by that is: Do I have a way to get in front of the people that would actually by this? Because you could have a great idea and a great execution and it could be very, very, very expensive to acquire customers which could kill the whole thing. The second this is, for me is: Do I have a guy to run it? Because I am a visionary and its taken me a long time just to come to grips with this and just own it, but now that I have its accelerated what I am capable to doing. And so, as a visionary I need to partner with an operator…
Benj goes on to explain Gino Wickman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) and the importance of pairing a visionary with an integrator. It’s important to distinguish yourself either as an operator/integrator versus a visionary because whichever side you fall on, you need to find the other.
HOW DO YOU VIEW FAILURE? [35:41]
Iterative testing? Working with perfectionists, I find difficult because I really do think that you have to test. Test and iterate. Test and iterate. Test and iterate. Everything from a business to a specific marketing campaign. You’ve got to be able to separate your personal failure from your business failure from your own self worth. Like if you’re getting your self worth from a business that you are trying to start or run or operate then you’re setting yourself up for an identity that is a roller coaster and not only will it just absolutely exhaust you, but it will exhaust everyone around you.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU? [40:11]
I don’t know that I’ve really thought about that. I think that inspiration is just… I’m wired that way. There’s always something more and new and we can build. Our mission statement is to utilize life balance to connect to our Creator to turn energy into enterprise.
Benj continues to explain the importance of having life balance and really focusing on what’s most important and being aligned with that throughout every effort that you do.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS? [44:20]
I think if you’re trying to find an idea, that’s dangerous. The call of starting a business is large enough, scary enough and takes enough time that if you’re kind of looking for something I’d question whether you’re ready for it or if it’s even for you at all? Unless going back to that operator idea; if you are just an operator then stop trying to look for an idea and start vetting the ones that already work.
If you are somebody with an idea and are looking to launch it and maybe this is the first kind of enterprise that you are thinking about launching – find a coach, find a mentor because they are going to ask you 100 questions that you didn’t think of and you want to answer those before (a) leave your employed job hopefully… but before you get in too deep (not because they might be not able to be overcome but it might take more time than you think) you might need a different strategy. You just need somebody to ask you specific, really good questions.
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
The book talks a great deal about establishing an EOS System (Entrepreneurial Operating System) that Benj referred to in the interview.
Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters
Benj also shares his thoughts on the importance of getting a mentor:
I’m a huge fan of getting a mentor and I think that if you are someone who is extremely hungry, meaning like eager to learn and take advice then I think there are a lot of successful people out there that are willing to mentor or go coach, guide, willing to be part of the deal in an advisory role… I’ve paid my guy for…I think I’ve been with him for like seven years and I pay for this and its worth it, every single month.