Marketing: How to Keep Your Brand’s Good Name Intact

office-620817_1280I have met many business owners that have worked hard to build their business and to establish their brand’s good name. Many of them don’t anticipate damage that can be caused by one disgruntled employee or a less than favourable online review. In today’s competitive marketplace, I know it takes hard work to stay one step ahead of the competition, and maintaining a positive image to the public and your customers is vital to your business’ longevity. I have outlined some ways your company can protect and promote your company’s good name.

Why is it so important to keep your brand’s reputation intact? Thirty years ago, as much as 95% of the average corporation’s value consisted of tangible assets, according to a report by Thomson Reuters and Interbrand. Today, 75% of the average corporation’s value is intangible. This means that your company’s greatest asset and its value is its name. Perception has become reality and how people perceive your brand will dictate whether or not they want to do business with you. Are you seen as honest, trustworthy and ethical? People want to do business with companies that they trust and share values with, even if that company’s products and services are of similar quality and cost to that of their competitors. Your company’s good name is what differentiates you from your competition. I’ve outlined below a few tips on how you can keep your business’ good name intact:

Keep your brand’s good name intact:

  1. Enhance your corporate image by communicating your successes. Feature awards, testimonials and great press on your website and in social media.
  2. Associate yourself with governing bodies that stand for quality and integrity within your industry. By joining, you’ll be able to use their logo which in many cases will provide instant credibility. Be selective and only join the organizations that will create the most positive impact. Once you’re a member, feature their logo prominently on your website and other collateral.
  3. Use social media wisely. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I believe a well thought- out social media plan that targets your audience can help ensure that only designated employees post on social media and that they stay on message, appear transparent and trustworthy.
  4. Ensure that your messaging is authentic. No one wants to read what they perceive to be advertising.
  5. Monitor what’s being said about your company on the Internet and in social media. Designate someone to check the Internet and social media daily for anything related to your company.
  6. Respond immediately in a positive tone if a negative post is spotted. Don’t argue the point. Never respond in anger. If a customer had an unhappy experience, apologize and let them know you’ll try to make it right. Offer to contact them privately offline. Give them every reason to become a satisfied customer.

Are you doing enough to keep your brand’s good name in tact? If you’d like to discuss how TAB could help you with your business, find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

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Why Personal Branding is Crucial for Entrepreneurs – Brand vs. Branding

personal-brand-1I can’t stress enough how important personal branding is for entrepreneurs. You may not realize it, but each one of us is a brand. Type your name into any search engine and the results will show you exactly what your online brand is. Did you make a conscious effort to create and promote your brand? Does it accurately represent you? Is it targeted towards a specific audience?

 

Although the words brand and branding are often used synonymously or confused with each other, they are separate and unique.

What exactly is a brand? A brand is your unique identifier, your market identity. It represents you in the marketplace – who you are, what you do, your reputation, trustworthiness, and the quality of your product or service. Your brand is how your customers perceive you and how they feel when they do business with you.

Sir Richard Branson is the perfect example of a personal brand. Although he’s the founder of the Virgin properties – Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Records among others, Sir Richard Branson’s personal brand is the most powerful of all. People want to do business with the Virgin properties because of Sir Richard Branson. The personal brand drives the corporate brand.

Personal branding has become increasingly important. People trust people, not corporations. They want to do business with people, not corporations. Your personal brand is your differentiator. It creates an emotional connection between you and your customer. Ultimately, it defines the value of your business. In order to stay competitive in today’s marketplace, you must have a strong personal brand.

Branding is the active process that shapes your brand. It requires a strategy and targets your core audience. Branding can include the name of your company, logo, other visual assets, website, communications and media.

 

Entrepreneurs who are more influential pay more attention to their brand rather than just their branding. As an entrepreneur, how can you build your brand? Ask yourself:

  • Who are you? What do you stand for? What do you offer? How are you perceived by others? How do you want to be perceived by others? Be authentic. Your brand should be reflective of who you are.
  • What do you do? What product or service do you offer? What is your value proposition? What differentiates you from your competition?
  • Why does it matter? Define your purpose. This will give you great direction.

 

Evaluate your brand. Your brand should tell people who you are, what you offer and differentiate you from your competition. Is your brand reaching your target audience? Are they responding positively? Are you delivering on your brand promise? If not, it’s time to reassess and make changes.

 

Is your personal brand and branding effort working for you? Want more advice on brands and branding, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 


This Holiday Season, Focus on You

relax-955798_1920.jpgAs a business owner, the holiday season can be overwhelming. With client demands at an all time high, staff vacations and strategic planning in the works for the next fiscal year, stress often pervades around this time. That’s why at this time, perhaps more than any other time, it’s important to take care of yourself and take time off from your business.

I’ve outlined below my top 3 tips for taking care of yourself over the holidays.

1) Do something you enjoy 

Whether it’s volunteering, reading a book or playing one of your favourite sports, dedicate some time during the holidays to doing something that you love. It’s easy to forget about the world around us when we’re so immersed in our work, but you’ll appreciate the opportunity to rid yourself of work-related stress, even if it’s just for a few hours a day.

The holiday season is also a great time to spend some much needed quality time with your close friends and family members. Business owners are often so caught up in the day-to-day stresses of running a company that they often forget to make time for their loved ones.

2) Exercise

Physical activity is a great method for reducing stress. There are plenty of winter activities that incorporate exercise, such as skating, skiing, tobogganing, or even just a walk. Fresh air every now and again is important to your health, cold weather aside. If you prefer indoor activities, visit your local gym for a workout or swim. Your eyes will thank you for the much-needed break from paperwork, smartphones and laptops.

3) Rejuvenate

Even if it’s just an extra hour of sleep each morning, do something that will make you feel revitalized. A fresh mind means that you’ll be focused on making the right business decisions come 2017, possibly from a different perspective you may have previously had. Mindfulness is a practice that you may want to consider for rejuvenation, which also happens to improve decision-making.

Dedicating some “me” time for yourself during the holidays may seem easier said than done, but the benefits are simply undeniable. If you’re anxious about the impact time off would have on your customers, informing them about office closures and/or reduced hours during the holiday season may alleviate some of the worry you have about not focusing on the business.

How do you plan on getting some R&R this holiday season?

 


The Importance of Onboarding New Clients

onboardCongratulations! You’ve landed a new client, now what? The first few months of your new business relationship will determine the level of satisfaction your client has with you and will ultimately factor into whether or not you have a solid working relationship from which to grow. In order to maximize your level of service during this new and exciting time, I highly recommend following a carefully crafted onboarding process.

An onboarding process acts as somewhat of a blueprint for the next few months of the new relationship by clearly outlining expectations for both parties involved. Moreover, it protects both parties by mitigating any form of miscommunication or false expectations.

I’ve outlined below the steps involved in creating an effective onboarding process:

1) Send a welcome email

With most things in life, first impressions matter. This is no different in business, and sending your client a personalized welcome email from a C-level individual at your company not only shows your commitment to working with them, but it’s also a nice gesture that opens a line of communication.

2) Learn their resources

Since every company is different and operates in their own way, knowing what resources they have available is important to accomplishing your goals. For example, and depending on the type of services you’ll be providing, you’ll need to establish what platforms each company uses, what internal staff will be directly working with you, and whom you can go to with questions.

3) Establish mutual goals

A new business relationship is a two way street, and success is dependent upon clear communication and support offered by each party. Simply because a working agreement has been established, it doesn’t automatically mean both parties are on the same page. It is through the onboarding process that the details of the contract can fully be planned for effective execution.

4) Have a kick-off meeting

Whether over the phone or in person, hosting a kick-off meeting with key members involved in the launch of a service is an important step for setting expectations and weeding out any kinks that may have been overlooked during the original planning phase.

5) Obtain feedback

Once your business relationship has begun, checking in with your client to provide updates and ensure their satisfaction is key to demonstrating your willingness to foster a successful relationship. Not only will this show them your commitment to providing excellent customer service, but it will allow for any concerns or necessary changes to come to light. Having a 30, 60 or 90-day feedback session is recommended, but you can customize this plan based on your client’s preferences.

As you’ve probably realized in your business ventures, every client is different. Making tweaks to your onboarding process may be required depending on what each client’s expectations of you are and vice versa. Ultimately, an onboarding process is created to help you achieve success and maintain a mutual understanding with your client, so putting in the time to carefully craft one is in your best interest.

  

Do you have an onboarding process in place for new clients?


Why Join A Peer Advisory Board?

round table.jpgForbes published an article on the importance of peer advisory boards, “10 Reasons To Join A Peer Group.” While I thoroughly enjoyed the read, I noticed the author overlooked a few key benefits that I’ve been lucky to witness firsthand as a facilitator. As a business advisor, I take pride in facilitating a peer advisory board that has proven results for my members. The peer boards help business owners reach new heights and succeed in ways they never imagined.

Peer advisory boards led by trained facilitators embody the power of collaboration, accountability, and perspective. A deep bond can be created and a business asset is formed that business owners crave and are hard pressed to find in any other forum. I’d like to share with you my list of top 7 reasons many business owners join a peer advisory board:

1) Perspective

One of the greatest benefits of joining a peer advisory board is the exposure you’ll receive to other small business owners much like yourself. Entrepreneurship is unlike any other job, which means the challenges you face on a daily basis are just as unique. As a member of a peer advisory board, you’re able to share ideas with people in similar situations. As a result, the business ideas you’ll be provided with won’t just be erroneous but tried and true.

2) Accountability

As the owner of a business, there aren’t many people you have to report to other than perhaps a Board of Directors or other shareholders. When you’re part of a peer advisory board, however, your fellow business owners will often hold you accountable for the executive decisions you’ve elected to make. Many peer groups meet once a month and they often expect some form of progress each month.

3) Feedback

We’ve all had ideas that we considered to be foolproof, but as we’ve come to know in business, not every idea is feasible. In becoming a member of a peer advisory board, you’ll receive constructive criticism from the board regarding your potential business decisions. This allows you to fill in any gaps that you may have overlooked.

4) Confidentiality

With competition at an all time high, it’s difficult to know whom you can share your ideas with. With peer advisory boards, anything that is discussed is confidential among members, so you’ll receive reassurance in knowing that you can freely discuss your business decisions without compromising trade secrets.

5) Motivation

As previously mentioned, you’ll surround yourself with like-minded entrepreneurs as a member of a peer advisory board. What this means is that you’ll witness them experience successes and/or setbacks, just as they’ll witness the same for you. Either way, you’ll challenge one another to learn from your mistakes, grow, and ultimately succeed.

6) Structure

A common benefit I hear from board members is that a peer advisory board allows them to focus on developing their business rather than working in the business. Don’t get me wrong, one of the best qualities of a business owner is someone who knows the ins and outs of their product or service, but when it boils down to growth, strategic decision-making is a necessity.

7) Reassurance

As the saying goes, “it’s lonely at the top.” But it doesn’t have to be. Your fellow board members are there to support you through your journey, and many if not all are experiencing, have experienced, or will experience the trials and tribulations you are facing as a business owner. They are as much of a support group as they are anything else.

 

Have you ever considered joining a peer advisory board? What would be your top reason for joining?


What Type Of Business Ownership Is Right For You?

Quantifying Small Business Risks

As a follow up to last week’s blog where I outlined key questions to consider before starting a business, I’d like to go a step further into business ownership starting with the question what type of ownership is right for you? Most people think that starting a business from scratch is the only way to go, but other options like purchasing a franchise or an existing business are important to consider too.

With over 30 years of business experience and as the owner of my own franchise, The Alternative Board, York Region, I have seen business ownership from all angles. Business ownership is not for everyone, but if you have determined it is right for you, you should explore all your options.

The most important considerations are the level of risk, and the learning curve associated with each ownership option. I have outlined below 3 key points you that will help you decide what the right type of business is for you.

1.    Starting Your Own Business

Starting your own business comes with the highest level of risk and the steepest    learning curve.  Most new business owners are excited and passionate about their venture, but often become overwhelmed with the amount of capital, stress,  and the level of work required to get and maintain clients, as well as the continuous planning that is needed to grow the business.

2. Purchasing an Existing Company

Purchasing an existing business comes with varying degrees of risk and learning curve depending on the quality of the business you choose.  With purchasing a business you really need to spend a lot of time on research and also be prepared to spend up to a year before you find a business you would like to buy. You will benefit from all the positive assets and processes of the business, but will inherit all the challenges the previous owners had.

3. Purchasing a Franchise

Owning a franchise comes with one of the lowest risk options and the shortest learning curve.  You’ll need to do your homework to ensure you purchase a good franchise; one that provides all the upfront financial investment details, required training and necessary processes to successfully start and operate the franchise.

There is MUCH more to it than the few points I’ve touched upon, so stay tuned to my blog in the coming weeks for more on business ownership and the advantages and disadvantages associated with each option.