Building a business takes time. But, building a credible, trustworthy business is more important. It’s worth spending the time to get it right. You can start by asking yourself a few questions to create a killer business plan.
Who? Where? When? Why? What?
Business image matters because customers are attracted to companies that have a good reputation. As Honey notes in his guide to reputational risk, “talk of reputation is most commonly associated with damage.” That’s some pretty serious stuff. Before you get caught up in the details, it’s crucial for your business to get the basics right.
Step 1: Who? Establish a Figurehead
If you want to gain public exposure (and you should) you need to establish a figurehead. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the owner of business but should be someone who effectively acts as a spokesperson.
This person’s values should align with the culture of your brand. When you think of Richard Branson, you think of some of the most valuable leadership principles — along with ballsy business decisions and private islands. The point is Richard Branson has partly built Virgin through his persona.
After all, humans are social creatures driven towards other people. Effective marketing should evoke powerful emotions in your audience, which leads them to associate positively with your brand.
Step 2: Where? Take Hold of Your Geography
In a broader scale, your business should connect with a given niche or community. Taking hold of your geography is incredibly important to engage your target audience. Nobody built a mass market business overnight — even McDonald’s had humble beginnings. Their local roots are still used today as a powerful form of storytelling. Their history page takes the reader through a journey from their singular burger joint in California to the franchised system that we know so well today. The timeline spans from 1940 till present day and forms their modern fast-food philosophy.
So, how do you build a successful local presence? One of the most basic steps is to adopt a local area code number, which boosts your professional image and pinpoints you on the map.
Step 3: When? Get to Grips with Technology
All businesses need knowledge of the digital age we live in. Businesses that embrace technology are ahead of the curve. The type of technology that your company should trial is often linked to your product offering. But, there is plenty of advice out there for all kinds of technology like cloud computing, AI and automation.
For small businesses, there is a lot of focus on productivity. Time tracking software and email management are savvy ways to reduce the number of hours spent on admin tasks. Streamlining your internal processes creates a much simpler experience for customers and gives off the impression that your business has got it together.
Step 4: Why? Curate a Brand Story
On the other hand, business interaction now risks feeling impersonal. While technology can provide handy assistance for menial tasks, it shouldn’t take over your lines of communication. Curating a solid brand story is key to avoid this.
Take the spin class studio chain ‘Soul Cycle’ as an example. Their key mission is simple — to bring Soul to the people. There have been countless articles on their smart strategy that aims to empower and motivate people.
Their business uses empowerment marketing that is based on human potential. Their story is often linked to the founders meeting and how they created a place built on a regular fitness activity with added experience. Soul Cycle managed to bring their personality to the table. If your brand can do this, it will connect with like-minded people who resonate with your image.
Step 5: What? Promoting Your Products
What you’re selling comes last. Your products should be dictated by the image that you have built, by asking who you are, where you are, when it is and why you’re doing it. Whether you’re a Marriott Moxy hotel that needs to scream design and drinking for millennials or a shoe provider for the conscious and charitable among us like TOMS, you need to market directly to that customer.
In short, the business you build should be less about the million dollar idea and more about an idea that you are happy to put your name on.
Rory Whelan is a communications expert with over twenty years experience in consultancy, television, media, and telecoms. Since 2012 he has held the role of marketing manager for eReceptionist, leading the product to become the favorite call management company for UK SMEs.