Number 1: Focus First on the Product or Service That You Offer
Focus on the product or the service. You can put a bow on a pig but it’s still going to be a pig. So if your product or service is sub-par, if there’s not a market fit, if it needs to be improved, if you’re not getting great feedback from your clients or customers — that needs to be your core focus.
It’s very hard to have a sustainable, growing brand, reputation, and word of mouth marketing when your core product/service is not working. Think about Tesla for example. When is the last time you saw a Tesla TV commercial? You probably haven’t, because guess what? They don’t rely on advertising in the traditional sense that a lot of other car manufacturers do.
Now why is that? Because they were hyper focused. They were obsessed with innovating and improving their product or service, and word of mouth just works that way. When you focus on your product/service and making it better, you’re going to have a stellar, value-packed product/service that customers are naturally going to talk about. Word of mouth is one of the best, if not the very best way, to grow your brand, marketing reputation, sales, and more.
Number 2: Focus on Your Customers and Clients
Now that you have focused on your product, now you can focus on the people who want it and need it.. So what does this mean to be obsessed with our clients or customers? It means for me, getting to know them at a deeper psychological level. Why are they interested in the thing that you offer?
For example if you’re a donut shop, you should be asking:
Why are they choosing to have donuts this morning? Where are they on their way to work? Where do they work? What are their hobbies? What are their names? What’s their background? What’s their family situation? Why do they like donuts over bagels? Why don’t they pick another healthier option?
Get obsessed about your customers or your clients so you can better understand how to position your brand in front of them.
As a small business owner, you have the unique ability to meet many of your customers face-to-face, so take advantage of that opportunity! Unlike Jeff Bezos, who’s not out there all the time fulfilling orders for Amazon, you have that LUXURY. You can get a much deeper understanding of your customers. So be obsessed about them. Be one of them.
Number 3: Clarify Your Internal Brand
This is often overlooked — especially by small businesses owners. They think it’s no big deal, they think “Well it’s just a bunch of fluff. We have a mission statement somewhere but we haven’t reviewed it in a while.”
I promise you everything else bleeds from this. Everything else builds upon your internal brand. What do I mean by internal brand? This is what your vision is. Where do you see your company in five years, ten years, and beyond? Is that clearly articulated? Has that been clearly shared with your team? And do they share and contribute to that vision?
Your internal brand also consists of what’s your company’s voice? How does it sound? What’re your values? What’s important to you? What’s your mission statement?
These are things that really drive your team. The biggest power that can be derived from having a clear, concise internal brand is now everyone in your company is rowing in the same direction.
If everyone in your company is set on the same vision, you will see the efficiency come through in just about every area of your company. So clarify your internal brand. Branding isn’t just for your customers
Number 4: Be Niche and Be Consistent
Too many small businesses are trying to be everything to everyone, and when you do that, you are nothing to no one. You MUST be niche, it’s a superpower, it’s rocket fuel for growth.
Being niche can mean a lot of different things. It means that you can be niche in who you serve. Maybe you serve a particular type of person. For example, let’s say that I am a plumbing company. I could be a plumbing company for high-end houses, and hotels & resorts. That’s my niche, I’m really good at serving these high-end, high-value clients. They’re fewer, but they’re big-ticket sales. That’s a niche target audience.
You could also be focused in terms of your service. So maybe I’m a plumber, but I only do commercial plumbing. Or I’m a plumber, but I’m really good with the bathroom installs. For example, Starbucks just has breakfast. They know that it’s a little bit too hard of a game to try and do lunch & dinner. Does anyone remember when IHOP turned into IHOB? They tried to do burgers, it didn’t work.
So be niche and be consistent. If you’re wondering, “Hmmm, I wonder if I’m niche enough?” You probably are not, in fact, I guarantee you’re not.
Number 5: Focus on Providing Value to Your Community
When I say provide value, I mean that you want to be seen as the “cool kid” on the block. You want to be seen as that business ownerthey can go to when they have questions about that specifc thing. You position yourself as a thought leader.
A good example of this is HubSpot. They’re a CRM software company, but they provide a lot of free stuff out there that they know small business owners need and want. They know that when a business owner is ready to engage in a paid CRM software solution, they’re going to think of HubSpot because they are part of the community. They are in there trying to get better at social media marketing, email marketing, sales enablement, conversion optimization, analytics, etc. They’re doing it too, so you’re on the same team. So focus on providing value, being part of the community to which you serve your products and services.
Those are my big five brand building tips for small business owners. Remember, branding is not something that is relegated to the big-box companies, large corporations, etc. In fact – quite the contrary. I think small business owners have the unique opportunity to be more agile, pivoting and optimizing their brands much faster, more effectively, and at a ground level that connects with their customers much better than large big-box companies.
So take advantage of that. Don’t copycat what big companies are doing. Be different. Take your brand strategy very seriously. It’s part of sales, it’s part of the customer experience, it’s part of customer support, it’s part of your on-boarding, your off-boarding, it’s part of your morning routine, it’s everything! Brand is everything.