Identifying your marketing values and communicating them effectively to your customers
If you are planning on starting your own business in 2021, or if you have an established business where you need to redefine your brand and marketing values – now is a great time to do this. The way we do business has changed significantly since March 2020 and small business owners need to adapt their business models and future-proof them for the foreseeable. The way we market new products, services and find new customers has always been a challenge, but now it is time to review, refine and reinvent.
The word ‘brand’ is synonymous with the big international players such as Coca Cola or Google, but us small business owners have our own brands too, and our brand can make all the difference between us and our competition. If we are to succeed in creating a successful brand and engage with the right customers, then we need to understand what our brand values are and communicate effectively what they mean and how we underpin them.
This forms the foundation of any business; large or small and working out the best strategy that suits your business is no mean feat. It takes a lot of self-questioning, soul-searching and reflection, but when you’ve cracked it, you will have that ‘eureka’ moment!
So, how do you start working out what your brand values are?
As a small business owner, it is entirely reasonable for your personal values to be built into your business brand values but there are some things that may give you some perspective in being consistent when you communicate with your existing and your potential customers.
Do your brand values align with your customer values?
At this stage, you should have already done some research into customer attitudes towards your product or service. You may have also looked at demographics to make sure you are targeting the right audience in the right way. This will bring us onto your ‘avatar’ a little later.
It’s cool to identify and understand your strengths and weaknesses, no matter how uncomfortable it may be
It has been around for donkey’s years, but the good old ‘SWOT’ analysis still has its place in todays crowded marketplace. This is where you can see what you are good at and not so good at and play to your strengths and make a note on personal development to strengthen your weaknesses. Don’t over-promise something in your brand values if you can’t deliver. Being honest with yourself and your customers helps to build the all-important ‘know, like and trust’ and be your authentic self.
“The tool was developed by Albert Humphrey of the Stanford Research Institute in the 1960’s. Although we typically use this tool for strategic planning purposes, it can also be used to evaluate a person, product, market, industry or business opportunity” (Rhythm Systems, November 2020)
Let your stalking do the talking
Have you checked out your competition? Have they released their brand values on their website or on social media? If you are stuck for ideas, a sneaky peak wouldn’t hurt, and you can potentially align yourself with your competitors (as long as they are high quality competitors). If they are not a company you aspire to be like, then you know how to explain how you are different and go the opposite way.
Once upon a time…there was an awesome success story.
If you want to get creative with your brand values, why not tell the story of your small business’ biggest success? What went right? What values were key? How did your customers feel? How did it make you feel and how would you repeat this?
Now that we’ve established our brand values, we need to underpin our marketing values.
There are lots of ways to entitle this next section: Mission statement, Ethos, but we will go for mission, vision & values. But, what does this mean? It’s identifying who we are and what we want our small business to achieve and what we believe in. We need to create a mission, vision and values overview that the people we connect to will resonate with.
As I mentioned before, we will now explore the ideal ‘customer avatar’. In many years of business, I have heard people ask, ‘so who’s your ideal client?’ and the reply often comes back ‘oh, everyone!’ That is never the case – not everybody is our customer. There are some things we need to understand about them such as what they like, the language they use, where they hang out, and how they buy. What marketing language we need to be using to communicate to the customer, because when they understand us and resonate with what we have to say, they will find us and buy from us. There are some great tools and exercises you can do to identify your ideal customer avatar and find where they hangout and how you can develop your relationship with them. As markets change, so do the needs of our customers and our avatars are constantly evolving.
Key messages and content – Content has always been king and if we don’t speak to our customers in a language and tone that they don’t connect with, it’s a wasted opportunity. Being clear, concise and considerate in our messaging will always drive results.
Our visual brand and brand message – This is always the fun bit. When we started our small businesses the buzz of developing our branding – the look, the feel, the tone and the message we give out is an exciting first step in creating our brand; our portal to the outside world. A mixture of Pantone colours, fonts, images, the story we want to tell and how we want to tell it. Again, this is something that should evolve over time as your small business grows and we move with the demands of our customers, suppliers and society.
If you’d like to find out more about how to create strong branding and marketing values for a new and very different 2021, contact me, Jacky Ling, to join the Acorn Club or book 1-2-1 coaching with me.