By Jen Khedaroo
How much do you really know about your own business? Do you really know why your best customer does business with you? That’s what Fran Biderman-Gross, founder and CEO of the powerhouse branding and marketing agency Advantages, is all about.
Biderman-Gross is a cross between marketing consultant and psychologist. She helps companies achieve beyond what they originally thought possible through a communications theory called Purpose, or finding your “why.” With her help, companies relearn and shift the way they communicate.
“If you continue to look like everyone else and talk like everyone else, there will be no reason to choose you from the pack,” Biderman-Gross told This Is Queensborough. “The only way to get picked out of a lineup is to stand out for a good reason.”
Advantages focuses on a company’s authentic stories through their purpose-based marketing. Biderman-Gross’ own story is an interesting one.
In 1992, she started a small printing company with her husband. They built the business into a million-dollar enterprise in the first four years, even with the opening and rise of office giants like Staples and OfficeMax.
But after her husband passed away in 2001, quickly followed by the attacks of September 11, the company lost about 40 percent of its finance clientele. Biderman-Gross was left to steer a sinking ship. And not only did she manage to keep the business afloat, she eventually discovered the passion that would drive her future endeavors with the help of marketing consultant Simon Sinek.
“He said ‘Fran, you’re stuff’s gorgeous, but you’re doing it all wrong,’” she said. “He introduced me to this communications theory, which he simplified, called the Golden Circle with a direct correlation to biology.
“When he told me what my ‘why’ was, I was like great, what do I do with this information?” Biderman-Gross continued. “He told me I was doing it my whole life, but I just didn’t see it. I just needed to think about it.”
She had become known as the “Printing Princess” with a successful reputation of delivering on time with impeccable design and quality, but contemplating Sinek’s advice she realized that she wasn’t just selling print products, she was consulting with clients about their needs for their businesses.
“I’d ask 100 questions,” she said. “Some people hung up and some people listened to me because they understood that I was focused on the experience of what they were trying to achieve. You say you need this, and I say why do you need this. What’s its purpose?”
For example, if a client wanted to attend a trade show, Biderman-Gross worked with the client to determine their goals for the trade show. Rather than simply print a brochure she would work with them on other aspects, such as how to set up the booth and how to create a follow-up process.
“I looked at everything not as product, not as commodity, but as an experience that also built relationships,” she said.
Over the next few years, she reverse-engineered a process to help organizations and businesses uncover why they exist.
“My ‘why’ is to help others get noticed,” she said. “I like to take people through the process. When I see a company that’s growing, that I was able to guide through something, that’s where my fulfillment comes from.”
Advantages helps companies succeed by aligning communications internally and externally, as well as understanding and articulating “why your best customer loves you.”
Biderman-Gross has a few rules, including people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. In other words, people tend to buy from companies they have a visceral connection to. Even a website’s design must be able to create emotional connections so customers can trust that the product is worth it.
Your best client may not be able to articulate why they enjoy doing business with you, but Advantages narrows down the winning recipe.
Advantages creates a minimal viable brand foundation for between $25,000 and $35,000 in six weeks or less. Their website also provides free tools for businesses to jumpstart the process.
“This is an investment,” Biderman-Gross explained. “You can hire a team for the cost of a good, seasoned executive.”
“You’re not the expert, you need to hire an expert to do things,” she added. “You hire an accountant because you would never do your taxes on your own, so why would you do your branding on your own?”
Advantages is located at 120-34 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens. Learn more at advantages.net.