As a busy business manager, we know that every day you’re pulled in a hundred different directions. It’s so easy to get buried in day to day detail and fire-fighting, to be swept away by the moment attending to the crisis at hand, or selling to the prospect right in front of you.
But carving out time for long-term planning? Not so much. So how can we easily and quickly turn all the disparate aspects of your business into one well-oiled machine, churning out profit inexorably and endlessly?
Well Alex Charfen, developer of the Entrepreneurial Personality Type (EPT) says that in order for entrepreneurs to scale and grow businesses, they must spend at least 50% of their time in strategic, long-term planning. yes, HALF your time!
If you’re not sure where to start, then consider this: Effective Branding is one of the most powerful and best-understood strategies for generating long-term profit.
Here are four ways to use your brand to turn your business into a profit machine.
1. Protect Premium Pricing through Differentiation
If you’re finding that you’re consistently driven to using discounts to lure in new prospects or hang on to customers you’re in fear of losing, it’s time to pause and consider your positioning.
Ask yourself the most important question ever asked about any business:
“Why would someone buy from our business out of all the businesses in the world?”
Or, to come from another perspective: How can you assume a Number 1 position?
You don’t have to be the biggest to be Number 1, by any means. Or the most expensive. But you do have to find a meaningful way to set your business apart so you can assume some kind of Number 1 position.
You could sell the best tasting meat pies on the planet.
Or perhaps you could sell the freshest meat pies in [insert your location here].
Both are Number 1 positions. And both set you up to be able to charge premium pricing that will resist mere price competition. Be the Mercedes or Rolex or Georg Jensen or Grange Hermitage of meat pies.
Take the time to create a powerful positioning strategy – and stick to your guns – and it will makes it infinitely easier for you to reduce price pressure, and you will maximise your long-term profit. Because Number 1 brands don’t need to give discounts.
And trust us … you’re Number 1 at something. And if you’re not, you really should consider finding out why, or doing something else entirely.
2. Stand for Transformation – boldly, unashamedly, clearly
Customers don’t buy products. They don’t buy features. They don’t even buy benefits.
They buy transformations.
They buy the thing they’ll become after they use your product or service. They have a vision of themselves in the future, and how they will get there – using your product or service.
Identify and understand that transformation, and you’ve developed the key to sustainable and profitable long-term sales. You’ve developed an invaluable underlying theme for all of your messaging. You’ve developed a way to change the world – one personal renovation at a time.
That’s big stuff.
And setting aside the piddly daily stuff to create a plan to change the world (while setting up years of future sales), well, are you really saying you really don’t have time for that?
So find your transformation, and make your brand stand for that. And it will stand apart because of that. Brand differentiation – easy to say – easy to do – but so often ignored.
Our proof? How many identical propositions are there in your marketplace? And worst of all, is yours one of them?
3. Create a Committed Community
Connected people are passionate, doing people. Connection for the health of the human soul, the human mind, and the human race. Everyone’s talkign about it.
So have you thought about how your brand can connect … for the future health of your business?
The number one way to connection is through shared values. We spend time with people who feel the way we do, think the way we do, live the way we do, love the way we do, believe the things we do.
So if you can create a well-defined set of values and beliefs for your brand, then your brand can hang out where your target market hangs out.
And your business will have something meaningful and authentic to discuss, other than why people should buy your latest thing.
The key to long-term profit is to then invite these wonderful, like-minded souls into a community your brand creates. And to develop an ethos around that community that both defines and promotes the brand.
Sometimes people get the impression that these kinds of communities are accidental, organic, or a natural outgrowth of daily communications. But that’s naïve at best, and lazy at worst. To build a committed community around your brand, you need an authentic and established set of core brand values, and a plan for how to communicate, demonstrate, and foster those values among your constituents. You need everything from your own, unique lingo to a designated place to let it flow.
And most of all you need to believe it – to the very core of your being – because you can’t fake this stuff. People spot it instantly.
4. Create Extraordinary Experiences
So many small businesses use branding as a way to bring people through the door and then stop right there with the juicy good stuff. But the payback from branding is built over the long haul, through extraordinary consumer experiences. And these experiences must be deliberately created, at all levels of your business, painstakingly, day after day. They don’t just “happen”.
Taking time out to ensure that your customers feel noticed, loved, respected and celebrated is how things get real – real fast.
So take an honest, clear-eyed, non-self-delusional look at your processes – from your website homepage or introductory email, all the way through to the delivery of your product or the follow-up with those who didn’t buy.
Choose four or five key places where you’ll absolutely STUN your current customers or prospects.
Engineer single stand out, unforgettable moments in time where a current, should-be, or used-to-be customer would say, “I can’t believe they just did that. Wow.”
And if you’ve got service gaps – fix them. Fast. Because you are only ever as good as your weakest link.
Is it worth the effort? Sure is. Extraordinary experiences leave people wanting more interactions with you. And they give people something to talk about: on the phone, on the train, and on social media. You simply can’t buy the good publicity that enthusiastic word of mouth delivers you.
To find out more about the role of smart branding in making your business sing, just give us a call. Let us share some juicy case histories with you.
Some people think that ad agencies don’t make a bottom line contribution to their business. That we’re just a cost – and a cost to be begrudged, at that.
We’d be glad to tell you stories about how we have helped to create millions of dollars in incremental profits for our clients.
In fact, why not make us the very first port of call on your journey to work on your business, not in your business? Just call (03) 9426 5400.
(Part of this article was originally written by Julia “Juju” Hook, Brand Strategist.)