by Kelly Green(Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
What does Oprah have that you don't? Well besides 1 billion dollars, the one thing that all successful people (and companies), like Oprah, have in common is a commitment to their brand. They have firmly established the message they want to send to their target consumer and have consistently maintained that message. Although it may need to be tweaked over time, the basic essential message remains the same. Think of some of the most popular brands you know - Oprah, Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz, Tina Turner, etc. With each of these brands you know exactly what to expect when you buy into their product - an informative, entertaining talk show; a cool, refreshing beverage; a quality, luxury vehicle and a high-energy, electrifying concert. By staying true to the brand message they want to convey to their target audience, these people/ companies have been able to turn their passions into profits!
You too can build a successful practice by considering the commonalities of those entities. Start by doing the following:
1) Identify your brand early in the business development stage. When developing your business plan, the mission statement should reflect the image you wish to portray to the public; ie, your brand. Once you have a solid business plan, constantly refer to your mission statement when devising any business strategies. This will greatly increase the chance that all marketing campaigns going forward will incorporate your brand objective. Furthermore, by staying committed to that brand, you solidify a standing with your ideal clients/ customers. Staying committed means nothing more than believing in your product or service and presenting it in its' most authentic form. In a previous article I wrote about identifying your personal values while developing your brand. With every marketing message you put out, constantly refer to those values. Making sure that once again the core message is the same.
2) Re-evaluate, re-evaluate, re-evaluate! Is your product/ service reaching your ideal consumer? No? Then clearly you are off-the-mark with your branding. One of the ways in which to get back on track is to re-evaluate your marketing strategy. Now normally I wouldn't advise doing any marketing without first establishing your brand. However, in this case marketing can be justified. Depending on your type of business, doing a simple, inexpensive marketing campaign such as creating a blog, circulating a newsletter, offering coupons or discounted services allows you to get feedback as to what your customers like and dislike. You'll also recognize what campaigns garner the desired sales results. The ones that work can be tweaked and used to attract your ideal client.
3) Research, research and more research! You should always be current with any trends that are taking place in your industry; in other words, stay ahead of the curve! The best way to do this is to stay connected. In today's climate of social networking, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., makes it easier than ever to connect with potential customers and others in your industry. You will want to be very specific with your networking endeavors; not all of them will get you in front of your target audience. Some other strategies include joining industry specific associations, getting involved with community activities that will get your name publicized and trying a referral partnership with other local entrepreneurs that can send business your way.
Many people tend to overlook the value in doing research of your direct competition. It's one thing to look at the competition who are doing well and envy their success, but it's quite another to take that information, dissect it (research how, why and the ROI) and utilize it to benefit your bottom line. In some industries it's perfectly acceptable to collaborate with your competition or even form an affiliate relationship. If that's not possible, pay attention to their marketing campaigns and take note of the factors that caused sales to spike or slump. Bottom line in research - track the trends and capitalize!
Staying committed to your brand is sometimes daunting especially when your business does not take off right away, but don't despair - think Oprah! If this is your passion, stay the course! Happy Branding!
(To contact this author, Email: email@example.com)