For small companies, you, the business owner are your brand, whether you like that idea or not. Your personal style and persona can often drive how your business is perceived and the type of clients you will attract. As we all get more connected via social media, word of mouth and other forms of personal marketing, business building is being driven more by the company “personality” than the product itself in some cases.
We’re hearing lots of stories from vendors and customers alike that they are choosing who they want to do business with more on what the company or individual owner stands for, a personal story (the company history or why they started their company) than simply the product or service that company delivers.
For myself, I’ve lost a lot of faith in the big corporations, their structure of profit at all costs and lack of interest in the personal side of business. These days, our firm is purposely looking for solutions from smaller firms where I might actually get to interface with someone who started the company or is a stakeholder in that firm and has passion for what they are doing. Relationship marketing, even if it is just online is fast becoming a major way we’re finding new vendors and customers.
Take A Personal Branding / Style Checkup Quiz:
- What’s your style? (we not talking about fashion, although dressing for the occasion appropriately can be helpful)
- How do you want to be perceived and remembered? Are you being perceived the way you want?
- Do you have an interesting or inspiring story? (most people do if they think about it) How many people know about it?
- Does your company and existing branding identity/imagery match up with who you are and what you stand for? Does it clearly communicate what you offer?
- Are you attracting the type of clients you want?
If you’re unsure of the answers to any of these questions or the answers are not coming back as positively as you’d like, it might be a good time to visit your branding, both company and personal for a “facelift”.
One way to get started is to make a list of your “A-Type” customers, you know the 20% of your client base who give you 80% of your key business. You’ll probably notice a common thread or threads that drove them to you and swayed their purchasing decision to your firm. If those qualities that brought those ideal customers to you are not as apparent and consistently visible or understandable, you might want to think about making that information more transparent and easily accessible to prospects.
In some cases you might need to redesign your logo or brochure or website. However, just changing one thing won’t be the magic silver bullet to bring a string of new A-Type clients rushing through your front door. Branding is a lot of little important elements that when strung together provide tools for your target audience to recognize you and establish a perception about what you stand for and who you are. It all has to match up in order for people to accurately “get you” and know if you are a “good match” for them and can give them the desired vendor-client relationship.
In the words of Tom Peters on FastCompany.com, – “big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the age of the individual, you have to be your own brand…Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”