Bill M. West
NCET helps you explore business and technology.
“Success in business is easy,” said no one ever — except maybe for people on the outside looking in.
However, the formula for success in business is easy when boiled down (a lot of boiling): Offer a valuable product/service people want or need; make that product/service presentable; make the right people aware of that product/service. But what about team culture, employee development, supply chains, economic conditions, appropriate pricing, distributor relationships, legal contracts, accounting, mission statements and everything else? Don’t worry about it, you’ll figure it out … success in business is “easy.”
If you’re in business, you’ve likely spent blood and sweat (and tears, and sleepless nights, and arguments, and indescribable energy, and wasted webinar time) creating and fine-tuning your product/service so people truly find value in it … so they want it or so they need it — only to find more headaches come. How do you describe this revolutionary product so people get it? How do you package it up and present it so it’s attractive? How do you find the right people and let them know how great it is? In short: First you brand, then you market.
OK, let’s talk branding and define it in one word: everything. Again, easy (not). Branding is the recipe that binds the one million ingredients of your business (and all of your offerings) together. It’s what gives your business personality, direction, meaning and purpose. If your business eats its spinach and produces a delicious, seductive, inspiring, engaging, understandable, attractive brand, then you’ve made it … that is unless your marketing falls flat and the right customer base never finds you. Ugh! How do you plan your marketing so it reaches your people (and enough of them)? Well, you simply spread the right, superb, impeccable, borderline-perfect on-brand content across all the right, superb, impeccable, borderline-perfect channels, both paid and unpaid, both earned and unearned. Easy (again, not).
Branding and marketing your business can leave you in cold sweats when you don’t have clear direction to help with your decision-making in these areas. If you’re shivering from branding-and-marketing-induced cold sweats, consider these steps:
► Messaging first. If your brand’s personality doesn’t jump off the page simply with words, your visual communication is probably going to follow suit. Fancy, flashy logos, color palettes and photo treatments independently are meaningless (but they might look cool). Also, if people don’t get it, they aren’t buying it. Root them in something real; root them in your brand’s messaging.
► Mind your basics. Forget jumping into sophisticated, complicated marketing tactics if the basic brand foundation you’re leading people to is crumbling (or nonexistent). You can lead the proverbial herd of horses to water, but if the water is really garbage, that herd won’t take a sip.
► Brand the boring. Again, branding is everything. Brand efforts should touch every aspect of your business, not just the sexy, public-facing materials that hit the eyeballs of the masses. Think about your onboarding forms, your employee handbooks, your training videos, your bathroom signage. Branding is everything — and to every audience, internal and external — so consider everything.
So, in this article I lied (a few times). Success in business is hard. And now that we’ve made that agreement, we can roll up our sleeves and get to work, to at least make the branding and marketing of your business easier. Let’s do it.
Learn to “Stop Throwing Marketing Money at the Wall” (and more) at NCET’s Biz Bite on Sept. 22 with the program and lunch from noon to 1 p.m., preceded by networking from 11 a.m. until noon. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. More info at www.NCETbite.org.
Bill M. West is the owner and lead eyebrow raiser at Bareknuckle (bareknuckle-branding.com). Draw a crowd. Stand out in one.