7 things every small business owner needs to know:
1) If your brand stands for more than one thing, it stands for nothing.
Most business owners can easily rattle off three to five great things about their business. It's much hard to say which of those things they'd want to lead with if they could pick only one. Harder, but it's exactly what you need to do. Why? Because people will only focus on and remember one thing. Excite them with your one thing and you can tell them all those other great things when they say, "Wow, tell me more."
2) There is no emotional connection in one dollar off.
If the only reason folks come to you is that you offer your product or service for 5 dollars less then the other guy, when the other guy offers it for 6 dollars less, you loose. You need to make people want to buy from YOU. That way, no matter what the other guy does, they're you fan and your customer and they'll justify coming back to you. And do you really want to be taking on price in a WalMart world?
3) Trying to be everything to everyone only insures that you won't be truly meaningful to anyone.
It's too easy to say that your target market is everyone. You may even be in a category where everyone could conceivably buy what you're selling. But you can't communicate in a meaningful way to everyone. You can, however, focus on the heart of your market, on who's most likely to buy, and speak directly to them in a way that says you understand them. You'll make much more meaningful connections that last.
4) If you can't commit, you might as well quit.
If you look and sound different every time your prospect encounter you, they'll never remember you. Too often, a small business will start down a smart road with their marketing. Example: a jeweler being the place for women to gift themselves. Then without warning, someone gets the idea to support the circus by putting the owner in a clown suit and saying, when it comes to jewelry we don't clown around. That sound you hear is a crowd of women going somewhere else.
5) The most important person in your branding and marketing isn't you.
This is one of those bits of marketing wisdom that, no matter often you hear it, it never hurts to be reminded. It's just too easy to start focusing on yourself and what matters to you. But ultimately, if you don't focus on what's important to your prospect, you'll never be able to communicate with them in a way that's resonant. Who are they, how old, married, single, educated, happy, worried? The better you understand them the more easily you'll connect.
6) Clear trumps clever every time.
Let's just say it. Not everyone is funny. And that's OK. This is business. It's very easy of falling into the trap of thinking that if you're advertising you need to be funny. look at all this Super Bowl commercials. But here's a question. When you talk to friends about those "funny" ads, how often can you actually remember what they were selling? So let yourself off the hook. Don't worry about being the funniest ad at the party. Aim to be the most compelling. Let people know who you are, what you stand for and how that can help them.
7) Don't be a "me too" brand.
Before you start down the road to your brand, it's always important to look around and see what the competition is doing. If you sell watches and the guy down the street is the Swiss Precision Watch Guy, then pick something else. Sure, you could say, we have Swiss precision too, but then you're just annoying. Be the guy for the guy with more than one watch, or the guy that starts younger folks down the road to watch appreciation, or the hip hop wrapper watch guy. Be something, just don't be me too. The other guy was there first and you'll lose.