It’s absolutely essential that you find a way to differentiate your business in a meaningful way. I know I talk about this all the time, but it’s that important.
What if you interviewed a handful of clients and asked them this question: “What’s the ONE word you would use that best describes what we do well?” Is it fast, attentive, welcoming, creative, cheap, cool, techie, smart, caring? One word is tough, but you need to get there. One simple word that sums up how you are different. If you can do that, and it’s a word that means a lot to a lot, your marketing job will be significantly easier.
Can’t think of a word? If your business was a car, what type would it be? Why? What are the qualities you admire in people? What color is your business? What kind of music do you sound like? What kind of plant would you be? Why? (Sorry if I’m scaring some of you with this!)
Got your word? Now, how does everyone in your firm define and own that word. Starbucks uses the word welcoming. If you sneak a peak back in the back room of a Starbucks you might find a bulletin board full of “thoughts on welcoming” written by the staff.
What if you asked all your clients and associates to help you come up with your word and then asked them to give your their thoughts on what that word means or how they experience that word. (This would make a very fun activity for a client appreciation party – just add beer.)
If you actually did that you might uncover some incredible marketing material and may even come up with the motivation to inject your word and all its various meanings into everything you do – make your word your filter for every marketing decision.
That’s how a small business brand is built, that’s how you differentiate your business.
The trick after you find your word is to also find ways to measure how well you are doing building awareness and successfully living it. Sometimes the intangibles are where the most meaningful data lie. How happy are people? How joyful does the office seem? How quickly do you return client’s calls? How often do you receive referrals? How many handwritten notes do you send? This is the stuff that can determine if you are living your brand or not.
Don’t think you need to mess with such silliness? Your clients probably already have one word in mind, the question is did you plant it intentionally or accidentally?
My word: practical. How do I know? People tell me, all the time.
What’s your word?