Guest Blogger – Emma Siemasko is the content marketing specialist at Grasshopper, the entrepreneur’s phone system. She loves providing resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners. She is the author of JUMP: The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Growing a Business.
You worked hard, whether it was a month ago or a decade ago, to establish your brand DNA – your organization’s vision, mission and values. That unique business identity sets the backdrop for your internal structure, and guides your external decisions.
But it can do much more.
There is no shortage of strategy for widening your sales funnel, but the best way to expand your business is not to do more. It’s to refocus on less.
Here are three killer ways to leverage your brand’s DNA to grow your marketshare.
Your Brand DNA is more than a couple of statements and list of values, it’s the outline for who you are as a company. It’s the skeleton of your story.
Your brand narrative can take one of two approaches:
- Fiction – Make up an entertaining and/or dramatic story about, or based on, your product or services. Dos Equis has created an entertaining fictional brand narrative about, “the most interesting man in the world.”
- Non-Fiction – If your brand history is inspiring – your ideas were rejected or stolen, you started in the garage, etc. – tell it! Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is one of the top ice cream brands in the U.S., but in 1978 they started in an old gas station after taking a five dollar class on ice cream making.
People won’t memorize statements, but they can’t help remembering (and talking about) a good story.
Once you have a basic outline, tell your story everywhere in every medium you can do well:
- Website – Set up an “Our Story” page on your brand’s website, and make it fun.
- Blog – Refer to it. Retell pieces of it. Draw from it.
- Social – Update it live. Celebrate anniversaries of milestones. Re-post the oldies on #ThrowbackThursday.
Harness the strength of each social channel – pictures on Instagram, videos on Youtube, and pull it all together on Facebook. Consider the user intent on each social network: be inspirational with your Pinterest account, and resourceful or witty on your Twitter profile.
You toiled and brainstormed to narrow down a list of characteristics and qualities that identify the personality of your brand. Those values can be a powerful connection point to consumers, because you’re not the only ones who value innovation or community or fun.
Find like-minded individuals – businesses or charities – and partner with them. If sustainability is one of your values, sponsor the environmental club in your local high school, or organize a spring cleanup day along some of the major roadways in your area.
If you can’t find one, start one. Mark Gonsenhauser, owner of a rug and carpet store in Norfolk, Virginia, started Rugs for Love in November 2010, when a couple brought him two old rugs they no longer wanted. Gonsenhauser cleaned the rugs at his own expense, and donated them to the Ronald McDonald House in Norfolk. Since then, Rugs for Love has cleaned over 100 used rugs and donated them to local charities at their own expense.
Rugs for Love makes sense from a rug and carpet store, but your project doesn’t have to mirror your business model, or the produce or service you offer. As long as you highlight your organization’s values, it will increase exposure to your brand in a really friendly way and open a dialogue.
The final step is to invite people into your story.
If you’re sharing it every chance you get, and you’re demonstrating your passion by celebrating your values even outside your business or industry, you are ready to recruit people to join you on the journey.
How you actually do that will look different for every brand, but here are a few general ideas to get you started:
- Find a charismatic spokesperson. – If you, the owner/founder(s), aren’t the best person for the job, find someone who is. Someone who shares your passion, believes in what you’re doing, and has that contagious kind of personality.
- Change the way you think about your customers. – If you want them to be involved, you need to start thinking about your clients as partners. Changing how you think about them will change the way you talk about them. Changing the way you talk about them will change the way your employees and your business engage with them.
- Ask for their input. – Start with your regulars, the ones who really like what you’re doing, and begin bouncing ideas off them. You don’t have to implement every idea, just start the conversation.
- Create opportunities for them to get involved. – Host or sponsor an event and ask people if they’d like to help. Identify a charity that shares your values, and be a collection site or offer discounts for their volunteers.
Share your vision and then ask your fans how they would get there.
Some people just want a cup of coffee or their computer fixed, and they won’t care about your vision. Others, however, already share your values, but haven’t found the right outlet for them yet, and they will carry your brand wherever they go. Not because your clothes or your platforms are necessarily world-changing, but because your inspiring vision has become their own.
There are all kinds of ideas about how to do more and more to attract new prospects, but in a market where complexity pervades, simplicity is profound. Don’t add more. Instead, focus on the basics of what makes your organization unique – share it, celebrate it, invite people into it – and your brand will build your business.