I love visiting small businesses, especially the many great local restaurants we have here in the Salt Lake valley. As a marketer, it is always fun and inspiring to me to walk into a small business and see what they have done to ‘show its personality.’ There’s definitely an art to it; however, many businesses seemingly stumble onto their personality and find ways to make it work. Here are six things you should ask yourself to help make your small business’ brand more meaningful:
- What are you passionate about? I can’t tell you how important answering this question is. Your businesses success often rests on this one question. If you love what you are doing and are doing it for the right reasons, you will find a way to make it succeed. Cassie and I recently dropped by a little specialty shop (The Puppy Lounge – more on this in a later post) and were literally awed by the service we received. These people cared about what they were doing and they have a successful business because of it.On the other hand, we watched a great episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” last week where a young woman had wanted to invest in a business. She had decided that working for herself was the way to go, so she found a small restaurant, took out a business loan and bought it. Here’s the problem. She didn’t know anything about the business, nor did she have any desire to learn about it. She just wanted to sit back and watch the money roll in. Problem was, the business was crumbling around her and she didn’t even realize it.Finding your passion is of utmost importance. If you are thinking of starting a business. Start with your passion. If you already have one, it’s not too late to figure out your passion and incorporate it into what you are doing. You’d be amazed at how creative you might be.
- Do you stand for something? Successful businesses stand for something and often it is something much bigger than themselves. But at the same time, you can be about something very small. It just has to hold meaning for you and your customers. Take Whole Foods as an example. That are about one thing, selling high-quality natural and organic foods. Zappos is about providing the best customer service and team member experience in their industry. Bono, U2’s lead singer, is all about social justice (yes, he is a business).What do you stand for? Are you about being local? What does that mean for you? Is it upholding family values? Is it about tradition? Is it about the local history? Is it about tying into the local recreation opportunities? Is about protecting the local wilderness? Is it about your family and your historical ties to the area? Is it about community involvement?Pick something that you, your team and your customers care about and then live it. Will you piss some people off? Yes! And that is okay. Those who love you will love you all the more for it and they will be much more likely to talk about you with their friends and family.
- What stories are you telling? Once you figure out what your passions are, you then have to start telling your story. How you do this is really up to you, but with a little creativity, you will find that this can be a lot of fun and will deliver some major long-term benefits. You should be telling your story everywhere you can – print ads, sacks, store decor, checkstands, website, menus, blog (this is a must), verbally, windows, flyers, etc.
There are some that would say you should be looking closely at what your competitors are doing. Sure, you should, but if you have put in the effort to answer these three questions in a meaningful way and your customers are as passionate about your business as you are, you needn’t worry about the guy down the street. Let him worry about what you are doing. You just need to keep focusing on how to make your business better and more meaningful for your customers.