How an 'obituary' can help business owners uncover their purpose

From RIP to ROI: Writing an ‘obituary’ for your business

By Colter Hettich

April 2, 2023
Graphic statue
How a simple exercise can help owners uncover and embrace true purpose

If you ask small business owners to describe their experience in one word, “overwhelming” would be a common reply. We hear it often in our work with small business owners, yet is it not always in a negative sense. Successfully launching a product, winning an award, or opening another location can all be overwhelming in their own ways — as can the wide range of possibilities for marketing

It’s why we sat down with Franklin Parrish to learn about his simple exercise to help small business owners focus their marketing: Write an obituary.

“When you understand how your brand’s absence would affect people, it helps guide what your purpose might be for the future,” he said.

Franklin serves as senior director for brand, marketing and creative services at Kaiser Permanente of the mid-Atlantic, in addition to teaching masters-level courses in content strategy at Georgetown University. He stresses to his students — and we agree — just how important purpose is to effective marketing.

“Like people, if you try to be everything to everyone you lose your identity, you lose your sense of self, and most importantly you lose your direction,” he said. “I think it’s the same thing with businesses — if you try to be everything to every audience segment, you’re going to be making a lot of products people don’t need, and you’re going to have a lot of messaging people won’t listen to. You don’t need everyone to like you in order to grow and be a successful business.”

Franklin also encourages business owners to consult the Jungian archetypes (for more on those archetypes, check out his piece on LinkedIn). These archetypes can help you spot your audience’s underlying needs, and the best ways to speak to them.

We’d love to hear from you!

If you’re a small business owner, or a larger company that works with small businesses, please reach out to us. We’d love to learn about your efforts, and offer up any way we could help.

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