Whether you’re struggling to find leads, boost revenue or simply get your business off the ground, developing your small business brand strategy is an excellent place to start. Why? Because without it, you’re simply flying by the seat of your pants and hoping for the best. And I know from experience that this approach is doomed to fail.
Over a 30-year career, I’ve seen the power of a brand strategy to drive business results, and these days I help clients with this every day together with my team at Original Ginger. I just wish I’d had this knowledge and expertise when I was starting out.
The Allure of Small Business
I was already several years into my career when I decided to dip my toes into the world of small business. I had been working in a salaried job as a managing consultant at a large multinational technology company, answering to a boss as I gradually climbed the ladder to a larger payday. While I didn’t hate my job, I aspired to have more control over my future.
Nobody in my family or group of friends had ever owned a “successful” small business. Despite this, I knew that entrepreneurship was my opportunity to achieve the freedom and control that I wanted.
I always felt that I had good sales skills – for example, I had the ability to always land a job easily, even before any of my classmates. Encouraged by this, my first business venture focused on selling unique products that I found through trade magazines. (In case you haven’t guessed already, this was all before the internet age.)
Just Another Failed Business
It didn’t take long for my first venture to hit a major snag as I quickly discovered that most of the “unique” products I wanted to sell in Canada required special approval from the federal government. Being a small start-up, I did not have the capital, expertise or planning in place to succeed. Instead, I had a “just wing it” philosophy.
Not surprisingly, my small business soon became a common statistic as I joined the 4 out of every 5 small businesses that fail. I had what I thought was a good vision, but that was about it. I had no business objectives, no unique selling proposition, no idea of my target market, no capital, no plan and no sense of “why” to drive the success of my venture.
Back to Building Up Experience
After my first small business failed, I went back to working for others and built up career experience in diverse roles. I worked for technology companies (the age of the internet had arrived), video game developers/publishers and large digital marketing agencies. This included working as a producer and program director on cutting-edge technology that helped to lay the groundwork for some of today’s leading platforms and solutions.
Working on all these projects taught me some important things about what it takes to build a successful product or service and then market it to consumers or other businesses. As a producer and program director, I managed multi-million-dollar projects for some of the largest organizations in the world and learned how to come up with a vision, strategy, objectives and plan. The projects were always well funded, with a huge emphasis placed on brand strategy, marketing and advertising. Our project deadlines were always tied to a marketing plan and specific advertising publishing dates.
For 15 years, I gathered and applied this knowledge to carry out my duties. But I also used it to dissect what went wrong in my first business venture and to learn lessons for what I could do better next time.
Another Shot, A New Approach
After many years of working for others following the failure of my first venture, the desire to be part of a successful small business heated up again. But this time was different.
I had learned how to manage enormous projects that were tied to specific branding and marketing initiatives in order to produce large streams of income for multinational organizations. This helped set a clear path from day one, with a comprehensive plan for a new venture built around a solid small business brand strategy. I had a clear understanding of the offering, who the prospective customers were and why they would be interested, and this made all the difference in the world.
As a small business owner, you may be thinking, “That’s nice, but why should I care?” Here’s why:
A Sad Truth
Most small business owners are completely lost when it comes to planning, setting goals and achieving success. They don’t know where to begin and simply react to problems as they arise, often turning to Google in search of answers.
Much like when I started out with my first venture, they believe they have a good product or service, but they lack direction for how to move forward with it. Not surprisingly, many quickly end up lost.
On the other hand, if you have direction, then you can build a plan for success – with clear goals, strategies and tactics to get you there.
Identifying Real Business Challenges
All too often, small business owners struggle with developing a brand strategy because they jump ahead to “solutions” before identifying their challenges. For example, every small business owner knows they likely need a logo and probably need a website. However, many view these as simply checklist items and fail to consider how they relate to the real problems they need to solve, such as the need for more leads, more sales and more revenue.
Every day at our agency we receive calls from small business owners asking if we build websites and how much they cost. The dialogue usually goes something like this:
Prospect: “Hi there do you design/build websites?”
Original Ginger: “We sure do. What do you have in mind?”
Prospect: “I’m not sure. I have a start-up business and I’d like a website.” Or, “I have an existing business and would like to revamp our current website.”
Notice that there is no mention of what the real issue happens to be. No mention that as a start-up, they don’t have any revenue flowing in yet. Or that as an existing small business, not enough revenue is coming in to keep their business afloat or achieve their lofty revenue projections.
Inevitably, as the dialogue continues, we quickly determine that they don’t have any handle on the following:
- Brand vision/strategy
- Product/service descriptions
- Consistent branding across company/service/product packaging and marketing collateral
- Consistent brand messaging
- Target customer demographics
- Unique selling proposition
- Most profitable services/products
- Marketing strategy to generate leads
- Sales process to achieve revenue goals
They are struggling and reaching out for assistance, but a website by itself won’t be enough to save their business.
Small Business Brand Strategy
Every business needs to know where they are now and where they want to go, as well as a plan on how to get there. They need a clear strategy – or as we call it, a Small Business Brand Blueprint.
Sure, you need a logo, a website, marketing collateral and more. But before you get into any of that, you need to discover some key things about your business, products/services, target customers, competitors and market. That’s where a brand blueprint for your business can really help.
Every day at Original Ginger, we help business owners determine a real sense of direction with a personalised Small Business Brand Blueprint, which supports their development of a solid brand and marketing foundation. We help start-ups lay the groundwork for success by solving real small business challenges, like how to kick things off with an awareness campaign, get the word out about their brand and set things up right to begin earning revenue. We also help existing small businesses with the challenge of increasing leads, closing new business and increasing revenues.
If your business is struggling or failing to produce your desired results, we can work with you to develop or refine your small business brand strategy – including the creation of authentic branded visual elements, content messaging, straplines and a strategy related to your online customer experience. As branding and marketing experts, we’re here to provide you with real-world planning, design and development services, not just fluffy advice.
Imagine your brand foundation: built for growth and future success
Unlock Access to Our Guide:
The 5 Planks to Brand Strategy: How to Attract the Right Customers and Generate Leads
This guide is full of information on how to create an overall brand strategy that works toward your business goals. It helps you craft an authentic brand story, then helps you uncover when, where and how to communicate it to your target audiences.
Your Brand Strategy Partner
As a small business owner, you know that “small” doesn’t mean “easy.” I learned this too – the hard way – and now I work with the Original Ginger team every day to help owners like you develop strategic solutions to some of the biggest small business challenges related to branding and marketing.
Are you tired of winging it? Do you need help with your small business brand strategy? Contact us to get started on your own Small Business Brand Blueprint, or to request our consulting services.
Call us at 778.298.1966 or toll free 1.855.298.8650, or fill out our online form.