Marketing can be difficult, right? I say no! Marketing does not have to be difficult at all if you focus on developing your small business brand. By spending more time on developing your small business brand first, your marketing efforts will fall right in line.
Let’s discuss several important factors to consider when developing your small business brand.
Orient Your Brand to Stay in Alignment with Your Customer
Why should you spend more time developing your small business brand? Because, more often than not, we are focused on operating our business day to day. We are helping our customer, but we often look up and find ourselves out of alignment with that customer.
Over time, you’re knee deep in growing, learning, and developing your small business, you are slowly moving away from your customer. Your brand is over here. Your customer is over there.
We need to take time to concentrate our effort on driving our small business brand to where our customer is. We need to make sure our brand is always aligned with our customer. This is how small business branding works.
As a small business owner, you want to stay in contact, stay connected, and stay aligned with your customer on a regular basis. By doing this on a regular basis you won't be forced to take the time to reevaluate your entire small business brand once every five years. This will allow you to slowly make incremental changes that will put you on the path to staying aligned with your customer all the time.
Keep your Story in Alignment with your Customer's Story
Are you adjusting your brand story to fit your customer’s new story or motivation? This is another area where you need to spend a bit more time developing your small business brand. If your customer's motivations are changing, then you need to adjust.
For example, your business is selling products and services to people who are potty-training children. Something that happens as a function of you selling the product is that the kids now become potty-trained and no longer need your services.
As you're helping parents train their kids, two very important things are happening.
Your customers are aging out. Both the parent and the child are growing up and aging out of your program.
Simultaneously people who were not your customer before are growing up into becoming your customer. People who did not have kids before are having kids, and then those kids are becoming the age of potty-training and becoming your customer.
This is what I mean by having to adjust your story to your customer’s story. Overtime, you're serving parents who are primarily Millennials, but as time progresses, you transition into having parents who are Gen Z.
Because your parent group is changing generations, you will have to make changes to how you communicate your story. The way Millennials navigate the world is different than how Gen Z communicates in the world. Your business is not changing, but the way you communicate is going to change because your customer is changing.
Not everyone has a business that crosses generational lines, but this doesn't mean that your customers aren't changing. Technology is changing, the world around us is changing and you need to keep up with that when developing your small business brand.
Evaluating How Your Customer is Experiencing Value
Next you need to think about how the value that you offer is being experienced by your customers. Over time, you need to look through a critical lens at what is the customer getting from you, what is their transformation? You need to evaluate this over time because the value you provide is going to change as your customer changes.
Back to our potty-training example, the value provided is seen differently among the various generations. From Gen X to Gen Z, their motivations will vary. You have to accommodate for the different parenting styles.
As a small business owner, you should always be looking at your customer and asking what is the value that they're getting from your product or service and then communicating that value back to them.
In this example, you may start out communicating the value of free time. Then you may end up communicating the value of swiftness, like speed at which potty-training happens. The product or service you're delivering - potty-training - hasn't changed. Children need to be potty-trained, but the value that the parent is getting out of it is very different.
You want to be thinking about how to make sure you're aligning the value of what your customer actually gets out of it with their actual motivations. If you're evaluating this on a regular basis, it's going to make your small business brand that much stronger and much more resilient to market changes.
Determine Your Small Business Brand Positioning
Lastly, you need to be determining where your business sits in the marketplace. All of this talk about where the customer is, what they're doing and how they're perceiving your value are all very important markers. You need to be aware of these factors on a regular basis.
Your customer needs to be your focus. But you also need to be conscious of the environment you're sitting in. You need to be aware of your competitive surroundings. Where is your brand positioned when it comes to potty-training? Where does this sit in the grand scheme of child rearing? It may change.
You may find that the product or service that you're offering needs to change because the market has moved. Not just because the customer has changed, but because the entire space of child rearing is changing.
The term "potty-training" may not be the term to use anymore. It may be something else. Again, what you do might be exactly the same, but how you're positioning what you do may change. And so you might eliminate certain aspects of your service or product and then rebrand what it is you offer.
You have to be looking out for that opportunity. Because that's really what it is, an opportunity. To be aware of what’s happening in the marketplace so you can have a good idea of what people want, not just what our customers want, but what the entire market looks like.
Keeping Your Small Business on Brand Will Take Some Time
All of the points I mentioned before are going to take you some time and energy. Once you get to the point of regularly aligning yourself with your customer, adjusting your story with your customer’s story, evaluating your customer's experience with the value that you're offering, and determining where you are in your market, you will always be on brand.
I’ve said this before, it's better to stay ready than it is to have to get ready. If you stay on brand, then you won’t have to do a massive re-branding or make massive adjustments. You should be making incremental changes as your business is growing.
As the small business owner, the person in charge, you're not just the person making the product or providing the service, you're also strategizing and evaluating. You need to make sure that you're running your business the way that your business needs to run in order to be a sustainable brand. By spending some time evaluating and developing these elements your can assure your small business brand will always be on point.
Now that you have thought through these core concepts, I am going to challenge you to take this one step further.
Our Small Business Brand Audit is a great way to help you determine where you are in building your brand and where you need to go. It helps you identify your customer's perspective and position your brand based on your specific competitive evaluations.
It also helps you to align your brand messaging by mapping your customer's motivations and determine where your small business stands on it's path to actually being a brand.
This self guided brand audit is completely free and available to you at the link below. Join the program and complete it on your own schedule. The program consists of six videos as well as a workbook that contains instructional activities to help you transition your small business into a brand.