Truly defining your business is a critical first step in developing your marketing plan. Through time I have been examining how big brands build a compelling brand experience that will drive customer loyalty highlighting the principles of big brand marketing. After understanding the Core of their success, I now share this knowledge with small business owners so they can replicate those kinds of successes. But before you can start building your brand's experience for customers, you need to take some fundamental first steps to define the kind of brand you want to be.
To guide your marketing plan, you need a very well-crafted statement of the type of business you are in, the type of customers you serve, and how you serve them. You have to define what we stand for and the types of products and services that your customers can expect from you. This truly is the first step in the marketing process.
At first, glance, defining your brand may seem easy, but it takes some soul searching, decision making, and data gathering. When defining your business, put as much clarity as possible into how the brand and business is described, so that you can build a specific brand experience to match it. Here are three key steps to help you get there:
1. Make an inventory of your skills, services, and or products. List out what your business is especially good at and what you want your customers to think of when your business comes to mind. Your unique set of skills, services, and or products will form the basis of your business.
2. What are your customers' needs? From your list of skills, services, and or products identify those that your customers particularly need. Think through the kinds of things you do that your customers will come to you for. You should define your business based on your ability to fulfill such demands.
3. Focus on what differentiates. It's important for your brand to be different than other similar options available to customers. Of course, your brand experience will ultimately differentiate you, but being unique starts with deciding what attributes set you apart from others. Your goal is to be different and better than your competition.
While it's important to be as specific as possible, you also want to be careful not to box your business in with a tightly constrained brand definition. If it makes sense to be super specific because you have identified a strong niche market, just be sure to do this consciously. If the business is large enough, those could be very well-defined, successful businesses. Just be careful not to define the brand too strictly, which would close out future business-building activities. The trick is to balance specificity, focus, and differentiation with the ability to expand. When defining your brand, make sure to describe the type of business in a way that allows for growth over time.
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