Five Ways Small Business Owners are Building Their Personal Brand
Entrepreneurs are at the leading edge of the business world. They’re creative and forward thinking, and they love the rush of taking a new idea and making it a reality. They’re idea people, but they may not be always as strong at some of the logistics, like promotion and branding. You’re always branding, whether you know it or not, and the best way to get ahead of your competition is awareness of how you can build a stronger foundation for how friends, potential partnerships, and customers perceive you. If you’re a small business owner looking to build your own personal brand, here are five key things to remember:
1. Who am I?
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is trying to be all things to all people. While this might bring in some short-term sales, customers may never in the long run get a clear sense of who you are and what you do. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is built around defining human civilization, but it is also a method of thinking that’s important to keep in mind when searching for potential customers. Always ask yourself what specific reason a customer has for coming to your store, and when they’ll be thinking about your business. Hone in on what you are most passionate about, and make that your focus. Positioning has been called the “art of sacrifice,” but on the upside, you’ll get to specialize in what you most love doing (and your customers will notice).
2. Develop Your Core Message
Once you’ve chosen your brand’s specialty, it’s time to craft a core message. Your core message should embody the beliefs and ethos of what you do. Stay away from obvious, surface-level statements. Read up on rhetoric and the art of affecting your audience into action. Speak to what you represent and what your business can do for your customers. Apple’s “Think different,” Volvo’s “For life,” and Nike’s “Just do it” are very effective core-brand messages. Look to messages like these and develop your personal and professional identity with branding in mind.
3. Know Your Competitors—-and Set Yourself Apart
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Take a look at your top competitors and see how they’ve done it. Learn from both their strengths and their weaknesses. Consider why customers might choose your business over theirs and what might even make their customers switch to your business. Start building your marketing campaign and materials accordingly.
4. Find Your Core Customers
Now it’s time to identify and connect with who you believe will be your core customers. Taking note of where your competitors are having success is one step, but this is where your entrepreneur’s brain should kick in. What are some of the potential untapped markets your competition hasn’t found yet? What new markets might your brand appeal to that your competitors haven’t thought of yet? Fine-tune your logo and other marketing materials around what your core customers connect with most. Is your audience classy and discerning or do they prefer a humorous, personable brand? Make sure all of your media output will appeal to their sensibilities and test out different strategies to compare results.
5. Harness Social Media
Using social media is crucial to your brand’s success online. Create Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other relevant social media accounts for your business. Customize each interface to reflect your marketing material style and design, and tie it all in with your website and other advertising. Post regularly to social media in a way that perpetuates your core message and brand ethos. Be sure to schedule your posting a couple of days in advance to optimize the efficacy of your posts [possibly link to future article]. Respond to all comments, and check the “temperature” of your brand regularly: What are people saying about you? What’s the sentiment? Address both positive and negative feedback, and adjust your brand accordingly.
For small business owners who love to create, coming up with a new business idea is the “easy” part. Taking the idea from inception to fruition is a different matter altogether! When it comes to branding, these five tips can help get you well on your way to success.
Follow Adam on Twitter: @thebizguy