The Journey To Your Why

Detroit Local Case Study #7

As is so often the case with a new business idea, Antonia Dillon's business was born out of personal experience. Antonia's grandfather was 103 years old when he died, leaving her mother, an only child, in charge of the daunting task of cleaning out his apartment. Her grandfather had been a floor-to-ceiling hoarder and his landlord was impatient. Even if they threw away 95 percent of his belongings, they were not ready to fully liquidate everything and they didn't have the volume to warrant an estate sale. It was from within that uncertainty, and the accompanying anxiety of what to do next, that Binefit--a boutique storage experience--was born. 

Certainly, the concept of boutique storage was not new. Boutique (or valet or concierge) storage is different from traditional storage in that Binefit picks up items for storage and delivers those items back when their clients are ready for them. It was a model that emerged from the development booms occurring in major markets like New York and Los Angeles. But, Antonia noticed that no one had yet tapped the Detroit market and it was also experiencing a housing boom. Antonia saw potential targets in people moving into small apartments that lacked adequate storage. She even considered an offering for parents trying to hide holiday gifts from their children. In fact, it was that line of thinking that led to the development of her bins, a sustainable alternative to cardboard moving boxes, and the inspiration for her brand identity.

I met Antonia earlier this year, shortly after she'd launched her business. She's one of a group of female entrepreneurs that make up our Masterminds group at the SheHive. Antonia comes from a digital marketing background. As such, she began growing her business and refining her service offering by A/B testing various Facebook offers. At first, she targeted local advertising to 21-30 YOs and 31-60 YOs. And, then she embarked on the toughest part of entrepreneurism: the legwork. She attended workshops. She met with property managers and marketers. She met with people considering moving. She talked to interior designers and contractors. She pitched. She gathered insights. She carried a notebook with her at all times. She had her up days and her down days. It seemed that, even as a competitively-differentiated amenity, "the business of storage just isn't sexy." After several months, though, she noticed a pattern of response from the 31-60 YOs. That same pattern emerged in her organic Google traffic. Antonia had never struggled with WHAT she offered or HOW she offered it. Her challenge was her WHY.

I often coach business owners on the importance of communicating their WHY--an approach made famous by Simon Sinek. It's very difficult to land on your WHY if you don't fully understand your WHO. As business owners we can't help starting from a mindset of wanting to cast the widest net, and yet, according to Seth Godin, we should be seeking our minimally viable audience instead. And, for Antonia, after many months of pursuing different paths and experimenting with a range of positions, she experienced two Aha moments that characterized her converted business:

  1. The majority came from 40-60 YO WOMEN
  2. Who were in the midst of a significant LIFE TRANSITION (like a divorce, or the death of a loved one)

For this audience, Binefit provided a just-in-time service that eased the burden and reduced the anxiety during an already emotionally-challenging time.

And, as a young, nimble business, Antonia can respond immediately, using agile marketing to hone her service and her messaging:

  • She's doubling down on advertising to 40-60 YO women
  • She's changing up her site and Facebook imagery to better reflect this target
  • She's speaking more directly to this audience in her messaging
  • She's developing a newsletter designed to provide subscribers with resources for coping/thriving during these types of transitions
  • And she's gathering her insights from people who already serve this audience to learn how to market with intention and from a place of authenticity and compassion 

What about you? What's your WHY? How are you translating customer insights into your marketing strategy and tactics? I'd love to hear your story. Please message me or leave me a comment. 


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