Updated: Apr 22
When creating a successful business, it’s all about creating a brand and value and presenting them in a way that the target audience will appreciate. Yet, creators and entrepreneurs with good (valuable) ideas and the best of intentions still fail in the marketplace.
Part of the problem is a matter of over complication. We tend to oversell the message rather than following the simple and proven principles of a successful brand awareness strategy. This premise might border on common sense, but it’s been a pitfall of many enterprising aspirants. So why do so many people have such a hard time integrating these principles of business into their own enterprise? What myths and falsities are people clinging to that keep them stuck in the same place? What patterns of thinking need to change?
It is part of human nature to follow the path of least resistance, which applies not only to life in general but also to running a business and building a strong brand. Many will take the actions that require the least amount of mental and physical strain but appear to align with their short or long term goals and brand. This is a guilty habit of almost every busy entrepreneur who is juggling any number of different priorities while trying to get their business off the ground. In their hurry to get everything done quickly, they have a tendency to make a lot of assumptions and latch onto them without much extra thought or consideration. And we all know what happens when you assume.
Despite the different backgrounds a professional can have, there are patterns that exist among all of them which can explain why they aren’t as successful as they hoped to be. Changing a few key bad habits, if nothing else, could earn them a better reputation with their consumers, boost sales, improve their position in the marketplace, and a successful brand all without changing a thing about their products.
As you work towards building a more clearly defined brand identity, it’s important to take a look at your past actions. See if you can recognize any major errors that you might be guilty of committing. Success, after all, is merely a matter of doing the right thing more often than doing the wrong thing.
Learning to Communicate Effectively and Have The Right Sales Strategy
Not all forms of communication are going to be right for your business. While there's a lot of power in social media, search engines, marketing campaigns it’s more important that your marketing message plays to your strengths, knowledge, and industry. Figure out which method is best for your target market, your visual identity, brand strategy and stick to that.
Some people are very good a direct communication. As a result, their sales strategy should be to have direct conversations during the sales cycle with as many qualified buyers as often as possible. Granted, this is highly dependent on what you’re selling. Highly tailored or bespoke services are rather hard to commoditize or sell on a broad market with the “one-size-fits-all” approach. In these situations, your potential buyers might need to see a face or hearing a human voice before they feel comfortable spending their money on your product at the end of the sales process. Even if it’s a product they know they want.
It’s important to understand both your vehicle and the terrain ahead of you before you can plan your market strategy.
Alternatively, some products are better suited through mass marketing via social media. If your target customers are more active on social media, they might make their decisions based on a company’s willingness to engage with them on these platforms. If so, then your marketing strategy should reflect this. Your customers might feel more comfortable giving you money and building on a level of brand loyalty if they see a continuous reminder that your company is active and present. This is especially true if your products are well suited for online shopping or impulse buys.
Whatever the case, it’s important to understand both your vehicle and the terrain ahead of you before you can plan your market strategy. Where do the people, your customers, spend their time and what form of communication do they respond to best? How does that line up with your strongest form of communication? What skills, tools, or partnerships will you need to acquire in order to make those conversations happen?
Let’s be honest, no one is going to be good at all facets of marketing, that’s why marketing groups usually work best as teams. Because of that, it makes more sense to stick to what you know and either hire or partner with others who have complementary skills. Doing this means a greater level of synergy as your actions are supported by the actions of others.
How to Reach My Audience: Playing Safe Does Not Equal Success
Somewhere along the line, we’ve “learned” that being specific is a bad thing, in terms of marketing communication. Many entrepreneurs are afraid of scaring off potential buyers who might not respond as well to a more direct form of communication. As a result, they try to play the “numbers game” thinking that revenue will come flowing in so long as they can get in front of as many people as possible.
This broad angle approach never works. Everyone knows it. From experience or from logic. Do the math and you will see it’s just not possible. In fact, for small businesses that are targeting a very niche demand, it’s vital to communicate in a while that a small group of people will find highly attractive, even if others will ignore it or even find it offensive. Realistically, the only opinions you need to be concerned with are the ones coming from your target audience. Even negative responses can be a useful tool for your business as it’s drawing attention to the fact that you exist. The overall goal is to focus on attracting those who have a definite interest in your product or service.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you scare away 99.99% of people.
The advantage of hitting that target audience is that people are generally willing to pay more for something that looks different, rare, or special, rather than something that looks like it was made for everyone. After all, if everyone wanted the exact same thing, there would be no point in commerce. Focus on designing products and services that serve a very particular and deep demand and creating a message that speaks directly to the people with that demand.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you scare away 99.99% of people, so long as you capture the specific .01% that does matter. Here are the everyday “safe phrases” that you need to eliminate from you vernacular immediately:
“100 percent satisfaction guaranteed!”
“We work harder than our competition”
“Great value at a low price!”
You’re always going to have competition, and before your customers reach for their credit card, their going to be evaluating you and your competition. You need to find a way to distinguish yourself from every other option. Think of it this way, every dollar your customer might spend is actively competing against every other way that dollar could have been spent. Your goal is to figure out how to make it very clear to them how and why your product is different and the right option for them to spend their hard earned money.
Don’t Limit Your Success
Every day, we surpass the limits of what we thought were possible through superior knowledge and technology. In terms of business, it’s a matter of being brave enough to test the waters and see just how far you can go before you resign yourself to the shallows of mediocrity. What others have accomplished can offer a valuable perspective on what is possible but it shouldn’t be seen as the absolute limit of possibility. Your vision should define your marketing and go to market strategies.
In order to build a successful business, you should not fall victim to an arbitrary modifier of what is possible. For you, as a business owner, it’s not a matter of how big you think you can grow your business, how many customers your sales team is able to accrue, or the amount you charge for your products or services. These are all arbitrary modifiers that can severely limit your success in the long run. Often times, these are the result of what is taken as “common knowledge” or personal tradition and not the result of live market experimentation.
That’s not to say that there aren’t limits. Those are very real and ultimately define our reality. The key is to define what is a real, observable limit based on physical law and market conditions as opposed to what is an artificially created limitation that you’ve either imagined or inherited from others.
Don’t Imitate. Innovate!
Discovering where your actual limits are, only happens when you put yourself out there, try new things, and watch what happens when you reach for areas where no one else has been before. Don’t feel like you need to stick to conventional thinking, actions, or limitations. The very essence of being an entrepreneur is creating that which doesn’t already exist, making you unconventional as a result.
Fear of failure and the unknown
Fear of failure and the unknown means that people don’t test themselves as often as they should. Instead, they copy what is already popular, seeing something that works for someone else and rehashing it because they know it works. However, when they don’t add their own personal touches or improvements, they’ve created something that is virtually indistinguishable from everything the competition makes.
It’s important to note that even if they can offer the same product with superior quality or a more efficient way, they are still limited by a market that has already been captured. Now, instead of harnessing an untapped frontier, their fighting for scraps of a market share that has already been conquered. What they need to do is innovate. Try something new when they’re not guaranteed success while still applying the proven principles of success.
What you create should be a mixture of both old and new.
That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to be learned from those that have come before you, in fact, that knowledge can be very advantageous. What you create should be a mixture of both old and new. If it’s too new, people will have no frame of reference, making it hard to determine value. If you take something that’s already on the market and improve it in some way, you push the limits and offer consumers something they never knew they wanted.
Find a product or service that meets most of, but not all the needs of the consumer.
The sweet spot is finding a product or service that meets most of, but not all the needs of the consumer. People will only use a subpar solution when lacking a better alternative. When products are made to serve the general public, the market demands become segmented creating very specific niches. Taking that product to the next level so that it serves a particular niche is a way to tap into a market that is otherwise untapped.
Failing to implement these principles into what would otherwise be a valuable idea is why many entrepreneurs aren’t able to get their businesses off the ground. Here are some questions to consider and see if they apply to your business. Can you see the value of your company through the eyes of your target customers? Why or why not? That answer is what will determine the foundations of your new brand identity.