You’re in business because you have something of value to offer but the more business you do, the more questions you have. How do I get my team all pulling in the same direction? What can I do to make my business more efficient? And the million dollar question: how do I attract clients that pay well and are easy to deal with?
We all want to be as successful as possible, so knowing how to connect with and capture the right type of clientele is critical. How your customers perceive your brand is key. As the owner of a brand agency I have seen many small business owners working far too hard to market their products or services because they haven’t developed a strong brand identity, and I urge you not to make the same mistake. I’d like to share with you three simple steps which will get you on track to building a strong brand identity, so your ideal clients see you as a premium brand that they really want to deal with.
1. Know your ‘Nathan’
Have you ever thought of your business as a person? Let’s call him Nathan. What sort of things would he like, own, or do? What would he look like? What car would he drive? Where would he live? What sort of people would he associate with?
When someone decides to buy something from you, they are deciding that they like you enough to hand over their money, and possibly enter into a long-term relationship.
By imagining your business as a person, you can start to see what makes him or her attractive to certain sorts of customers.
Apple has a personality, as does every car maker, fast-food chain, entertainment business, bank, office supplies distributor, and insurance company.
Is your Nathan reliable or rebellious? Flashy or unassuming? Safe or edgy? Traditional or innovative? Aggressive or steady? More focused on looks or performance?
It’s not ideal for a business or a customer when there’s a mismatch, when the experience of dealing with each other isn’t what was expected or hoped for.
That’s why it’s so important to define your Nathan so precisely that everyone knows exactly what it means to do business with ‘him’.
2. Be the champion of your Category, not Industry
Aiming to be a successful business within an entire industry is a very big ask, so I advise business owners to take on a more achievable target: winning a category.
By focusing on your strengths, you can narrow your focus to a niche or, even better, a micro-niche.
For example, I work with the owner of a financial services firm who didn’t want to be seen as just another accountant. The strength of his business is analysing the numbers to guide a business on what prices should be, where to reinvest profits, and so on.
We identified his category as “Virtual CFO”, defined his personality to fit that category, and he is now recognised as a premium brand attracting premium clients who require Virtual CFO services.
I also read about a designer who specialises in book covers. He has made himself the go-to person for designing book covers and dominates that niche, making $30k a month doing nothing but that. Perfect.
By narrowing your focus to a category, you stop marketing to anybody and everybody.
How does that impact on your profitability? Imagine that one in five of your current clients fits the ideal profile, but that 20 per cent provides 80 per cent of your profits (the good old 80/20 rule).
So if you make $10,000 profit a month, $8,000 of that is from the ideal 20 per cent.
Now imagine if all of your clients were ideal.
Your profit would skyrocket from $10,000 to $50,000 per month!
3. Identify an emotional effect – and market it!
Your brand is determined by the experience people have when interacting with your business; it’s in the eyes, minds, and hearts of customers (and potential customers).
So how do you identify the emotional effect of buying or using your product or service?
Start with the tangible and intangible results. Does it make you look better? Does it help you do something more efficiently? Does it make you feel smarter? More sophisticated? Less stressed? Happier?
And right there you’re already heading into emotional territory. As a result of buying your product or service, people are feeling happier, less stressed, more confident.
Take the example of Harley Davidson. Everyone knows what owning and riding a Harley stands for: freedom to tour the open road (tangible), being identified as a free-spirited rebel (intangible), and the feeling of belonging to a special brotherhood (emotional effect). So that’s Harley Davidson’s success formula: They know who Nathan is, they rule the rebel category in the motorcycle industry, and they have a cult-like emotion attached to their brand. That’s what it takes for someone to tattoo your logo onto their body.
Ideally, that’s what you want: people who consume your product to be so strongly moved that they become advocates. Then others join in … if only through FOMO (fear of missing out)!
I hope you find these three steps helpful. Keep in mind that the objective is to give you real clarity about your brand before you waste time and money on ineffective marketing.
Without that clarity, marketing is just scattergun, but with clarity marketing becomes effortless. Everything makes sense and aligns.
Don’t do it alone. Whether it’s family friends, former colleagues or an agency, having someone help you develop your brand identity makes the process a lot easier – and it will come together much better with some ‘outside’ ideas and feedback.
Many fall into the trap of thinking that it costs a lot of money to go through this sort of branding exercise, but brand agencies like ours work with clients at all stages.
By taking the time to learn how to brand your business effectively, you will connect with more profitable clients, who’ll see you as a premium brand in the marketplace.
My hope is that you achieve clarity, and – with some hard work – take your business to a whole new level you never imagined possible.
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