Are you a business owner feeling as if you are a hamster on a wheel lately? It’s easy to spin that wheel over-and-over, and believe you should be growing your business. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been told that output equals income. If I do all that I can to get all of my business ducks in a row, follow expert instruction, and stick to my business plan like it’s a lifeline I am led to believe business WILL succeed. Well, has it for you to a point, or are you totally satisfied with where your business is at? Are you stable yet kind of on cruise-control with a stable customer/client base? You’re good, you feel good,but if you really take a look at your stats you aren’t growing much new business? Better yet, are you a new start up realizing your business plan looked great on paper, but now how to implement the rest because you’re great at what you do, but not that great at doing the business side of things. I get a lot of “creatives” that are phenomenal at being, well, creative. What they do is beautiful, relative, and in demand. They work hard on their mission statement and business plan to get them started. And, now they are scrambling to grow past the people they know in their inner circle for business because the actual steps they need to take outside their comfort zone are a mystery leap of faith so-to-speak.With all of this in mind I recently did some reading on this very subject coming across two great articles that I felt I could sink my teeth into to help my own clients with their branding needs. You see, whether a client comes to me with a marketing strategy consultation, or visually needs branding for online and print purposes my approach as designer/consultant is always the same: Affect-ability. Impact. Quality. Trend Value. Personalized. Mid-process I always stop to ask myself Is this Brand campaign for this person going to be effective? Will this new Marketing strategy we’re working on hit the mark for this person’s industry, customer/client base needs, or, do they need to be doing more or less to leave a lasting impression?
With that said I came across this little tidbit in the Harvard Business Review regarding the best way to keep your customers today. HBR’s information was determined with a key finding of Corporate Executive Board’s multiple surveys of more than 7,000 consumers and interviews with hundreds of marketing executives and other experts around the world.
Do this. Ask yourself Is your business “sticky?” What is “sticky” exactly, you ask? Consumers likely to follow through on an intended purchase, buy the product repeatedly, and recommend it to others. Apparently the single biggest driver of stickiness, by far, was “decision simplicity”—the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information about a product and confidently and efficiently weigh their purchase options. Overwhelming them and pushing them away with relentless and ill-conceived efforts to engage.
As always simplicity is key. Over the last decade we’ve felt the rush of changing technology with an APP for this, and software for that. We, the consumers, together with marketing strategists decided knowledge is the key to getting everyone through all these changes. Suddenly a huge push to educate flooded the advertising airwaves. Well, TMI already! I used to read books, but now I just don’t have time. People are busy. You’ve got about 10 seconds to capture most people’s attention with a really good headline or caption to keep them reading or watching or engaged.
I’m throwing out a bone here because I love helping people, and I don’t mind if I give it to you in writing.
Simon Mainwaring of Business 2 Community writes an excellent guideline article geared for setting business owners on a current path of marketing trends including brand continuity, and cutting edge business practice. He lays out a bit of a “Step-by-step checklist” for you to ask yourself Is your brand giving your market what it demands? His mission for business owners: Stay focused on the right priorities that will ensure short-term and long-term success.
I decided to highlight the most pivotal brand questions from this article that I personally see affecting local businesses the most when they come to me requesting a Re-Brand. Included is my response to these questions that corresponds with how I already consult with my clients.
What is your brand’s purpose? Every marketer is now aware that Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z are looking to brands to be more responsible in exchange for their product purposes. As such, a clear definition of your company purpose is critical to capturing their attention and converting their support to sales.
Is your brand or campaign clear, simple and to-the-point? I always tell my clients “bullet point it for me. Now how can we turn some of this into visual?”
What is your brands story? Once you have defined your brand’s purpose, mission, and vision you need to be able to distil that into a brand story that employees and customers want to share. Only then will you unlock the power of social technologies to amplify your message and build your customer community.
Please note this is great for re-branding as well. Once again, be clear, simple, easy to understand, and weave your story in across the board. This is your business story. It is the story your employees (if you have them) should be telling. Continuity and believability.
What strategies must you use to tell your story effectively using social technologies? Too often brands bring a broadcast and self-directed mentality to social tools that turn on dialogue, interaction, and intimacy. It’s not surprising then that they find that their employees’ time and marketing spend is wasted.
Time is money, yes? If and when you are going the social media route find a way to be as time-effective with your media push as possible. Does this mean hiring someone to set you up with a Social Media Manager site or APP for you to use? Do you need to hire or appoint one person to do this job for your company? This does not mean that this is the only task that person could or should be doing. Or is it? Does your business need to be THAT invested into Social Media Marketing?
How must you use each social media channel to capture the attention of existing and new customers? Each channel presents a unique way to command the attention of different audiences and to inspire them to amplify the company’s brand story. Only with clear communication architecture can that story and these channels be sufficiently aligned to build the brand and its business.
This is where the research needs to be done on which social media channels work best for your industry/market/customers. There is no formula to this. It really needs to be specific to you. Example: If you are a photographer your market requires tons of visual. People want to see your work. If they go to Yelp! let’s say and you include your contact info, services, locale, etc., but no gallery your potential customer will move on to the next business on the list that offers a portfolio. Perhaps you are a contractor. Your impact will be somewhat visual, but I also guarantee your “shopper,” your “potential clients” want to read past customer reviews and ratings. If you blog about your work or like to talk about tips of the trade keep them current online. People are going to pop onto your blog or Twitter account when it’s available. They want to see that you KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. They want you to be an expert. If you’re not a writer then don’t be. But snap those pics of a job well done and post them because pictures speak in volumes!
How do you share that brands story effectively at a local level? The people closest to a community are the ones best qualified to share a story. As such, every brand faces the challenge of localizing its overarching story in a way that makes it meaningful and relevant to customers in order to win their attention and purchasing preference.
Referrals. Need I say more. If you don’t have a referral program, get one.
Bottom line. No formula of branding or marketing is exact nor will it be a guarantee of success. My recommendation always is to do your best and get ready for action!
“If you run, you might lose. If you don’t run, you’re guaranteed to lose.”