As a design professional, I have seen first-hand various marketing strategies presented to business owners geared toward one thing—building recognition for the purpose of growth in sales. We have all seen examples of businesses that have become really successful, while others completely flop before they even got started. So why does this happen?
While businesses strive to call themselves “the best this” or “the most that,” some of them are being told by agency experts that the only way to achieve a definitive status is to greatly focus on their digital footprint. However, if they go along with this advice without really understanding what their mission statement means or have strayed from its core message, then no amount of investment in building an online presence will ever achieve the right growth.
It basically equates to throwing money into the wind and hoping that business will boom. Sure, the service or product might gain notoriety with customers either by sheer repetition of online ads plastered everywhere, or by a rare viral moment. But that business will be missing a huge opportunity to gain customer loyalty and retention. Whether the goal is to build up brand awareness or to drive sales through the roof, there is one common question that all businesses share—“What is the best way to stay relevant with current and future customers?”
I suggest that every business should go through the following five topics and take a moment to reflect on their mission statement and to rate themselves on how well they are sticking to the declaration. Essentially, I am suggesting that businesses conduct a regular audit of their own brand and messaging and to do it frequently throughout the year. This will quickly identify if their current campaigns are upholding the values of the business and presenting an authentic personality in which customers can relate.
Ultimately, if the business sticks to their originality, they will attract the right customers and find their right audience to sustain positive sales growth.
1. Know who you are
This goes back to when parents say, “Don’t let anyone tell you who you are.” It’s so true. Peer pressure is a big influence in determining the value of self-worth. While there are plenty of positive examples of how peers can help encourage and bring out the best, there is a flip side.
More times than not, negative criticism is given authority in our lives and can weigh down decision making. However, it’s important to remember that one person’s opinion is not an absolute truth. The same principle goes for business.
If a business starts out with a clear understanding of who they are, they will not be easily swayed when negative opinions arise. This ultimately results in a healthy, sustaining foundation that allows for growth and true customer alignment.
2. Stay true and unique
Sadly, this scenario has actually been played out many times over: A business opens by offering products/services that are unique to itself. Then at some point, a decision is made to add a completely unrelated product/service.
Driven by a popular trend or an effort to increase sales and create fresh awareness, the business begins to slide down a slippery slope of confusion. It has forgotten its roots and has allowed the customer to dictate what products/services will be available. This reversal in ownership now has the business chasing the customer instead of the business attracting its target audience.
In the lifecycle of such a business, the “Going Out of Business” sign is a common result. The good news is that if the business truly knows itself, it will completely avoid this scenario and be all the wiser. By not relinquishing control, the business will protect the brand and mission statement.
3. Lead with excellence
Anyone who has ever worked for a good boss knows what it’s like. They feel inspired, happy and have a sense of freedom to be themselves and explore new ideas within the business. Alternatively, it is also easy to remember a bad boss. However, the distinction between a bad boss and a boss who challenges their team to grow using novel tactics can be a little muddy.
Sometimes it is easy to identify excellence. Other times it can be a little vague. If a business removes all ambiguity and provides a clear purpose and direction for its team, then people can flourish. The idea of leading with excellence simply means to cast a simple vision and encourage those willing to help grow the business.
One way to do this would be to edify and honor someone’s talent and contribution no matter the outcome of the project. Always deal with reality and the tangible while bringing out the best in people. Also, work in partnership (rather than rule a dictatorship) in order to identify and inspire future leaders. This allows for creativity to expand.
4. Drop the drama
Recently, I witnessed a situation where a negative review of a business blew up into a loaded drama fest on social media. It got so bad the business owner felt compelled to chime as well.
Charged words were flying, and it actually enticed other business owners within the same industry to participate because now their names had been talked about negatively. Shortly after accusations started, the original person who wrote the review deleted their profile. Mission accomplished. They stirred things up and ran away with only the goal to cause division where there was none.
While the intention of the original business owner was to defend themselves, they actually fueled the drama even more. It is important to realize that negative reviews are one-sided and they don’t provide complete and proper context. Yes, there is something inside all of us that feels the need to resolve injustice, and that is no different for a business. The best approach is to take the high road and continue to provide an excellent product/service. A business will always end up on the better side.
Public opinion is an aspect of the brand that needs to be managed for sure. A business should only respond if they can effectively rectify the situation by winning the customer over to where they change the tone and the customer sings their praises. Otherwise, if this outcome doesn’t happen it will only rob time away from more important tasks. Eventually, the best qualities of the business will quiet the voices of the naysayers.
5. Be good, do good
Karma. Yes, the idea of what goes around comes around is very applicable to business owners. But it is much more than that. The way a business conducts itself both internally and externally should be in alignment. When a business has internal chaos, that type of energy manifests itself as reactionary and communicates instability, whereas a proactive mentality communicates steadfastness.
The difference is huge. By being healthy, positive and wanting to genuinely improve the lives of its employees and customers, a business will be able to grow without a doubt. This principle transcends time and can be found in the very first examples of civilizations where prosperity could be seen on every corner. Treating others better no matter how they respond will definitely carry the success of a business farther than any other behavior.
Setting the goal to be like this is the first step. Will the business hit this goal every time? Probably not. By at least identifying the mark and aiming for it, especially with the whole team onboard to the idea, the business will be in a far better position to effectively communicate its mission and achieve its sales goals.
Mike Culton Brand
Our mission is simple. Your business needs more than just a logo, it needs a brand. We can help build that with you and make you original. Visit MikeCulton.com for more information.