Are you a person or a brand? Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you’re having some kind of identity crisis. It’s just that when you’re either a sole trader or the figurehead for a small business, it can be hard to think of yourself in terms of a brand identity when the qualities that you bring to the role are personal ones. It’s certainly been a tricky one for me to navigate since I stopped being a representative of a national law firm and started advertising writing services on my own behalf.
But why do you need to think of yourself as a brand? You could just be yourself, after all. The fact is that, until your prospects become customers, they don’t know you. They haven’t tried your products or used your services so all they know about you is what they’ve heard from others or seen in your external communications. Having a strong brand means that your audience will have some idea of not only what you do but also what you stand for before they’ve even thought about contacting you. In an increasingly packed market place, your brand makes you stand out and ensures that you stick in people’s minds. They might not need you yet, but if you’re a familiar presence they’ll remember you when they do. There’s even the possibility that your prospective customers will equate familiarity with trust.
So how do I define my brand? I hear you cry. Good question. Start with the basics. What do you sell, make or offer? What’s your place in the market? Are you a local business offering services within your local area or do you sell products that could be sent anywhere in the world? Your profile will be very different if you operate within a 20 mile radius as opposed to being a potentially global concern. The next bit is the tricky part. What do you stand for? The qualities that make you who you are likely to be central to the way you do business. I was lucky to be raised by parents who worked hard and believed in keeping their word. If my Dad promised a customer he would be with them on Monday morning, he’d be there; though even he might have struggled to get to New York when storm Juno hit. I take the same attitude. If you need a piece finishing by Friday, you’ll have it.
It can help to get a fresh perspective if you find it difficult to think of yourself in this way. It helps to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, or better yet just ask them what they think of your business. Why do repeat customers come back? Depending on what your business does, there are likely to be qualities that your customers expect, whether that’s reliability, professionalism, approachability or specialist knowledge. Which of those do you demonstrate? A third party who hasn’t dealt with you before can also offer valuable insight. I will often see things in someone’s business that I know customers will find exciting but which they regard as being fairly ordinary.
So, once you’ve assessed your brand, what do you do with it? Your brand dictates how you communicate and who with, where your marketing communications go and what’s in them. Your prospective customers don’t necessarily know anything about you until you tell them so it’s important to strike the right tone. If approachability and friendliness is at the core of your offering, your advertising, emails and newsletters need to reflect that, just as much as if you’re offering a professional service which demands something more formal. How do you achieve that? Now you’re asking…
If you’re looking for ways to improve your content marketing, get in touch or visit my website www.KirstyFranceWrites.co.uk to download a free copy of my guide ’10 Tips to create copy that converts’.