Many business owners prefer to clap their hands over their ears and hum loudly when people start doling out advice, whether that’s about their brand or about how to put together a new bookcase. Rather than taking time to identify things we can do better, it’s human nature to avoid serious introspection.
We want to believe our businesses are doing fine—that going in the red is normal for a startup or that investors will come out of the woodwork when we need them most. A positive attitude certainly goes a long way, but you’ll need more than optimism to pay the bills. Whether your business can win a triathlon or needs some serious work to get into shape, you can benefit from asking yourself these four marketing questions.
Who Am I?
I’ll start with the mother of all existentialist questions (I’m nothing if not ambitious): “Who am I?” Your company doesn’t to have to have an identity crisis to beg this question. Even healthy businesses can benefit from periodically inspecting who they are as a company. Whether you have a firm grasp on who your company is or you’re just starting to define yourself, this query can open the doors for other important considerations.
“Who am I?” is at its heart a question of defining your brand’s voice. Recently, Content Marketing Institute published an article about the importance of defining your brand’s voice to stand out from competition. The article begins with a cardinal question: could your audience identify your brand without your logo? For the majority of businesses, the answer is probably no.
At first, you may not see this as such as bad thing—after all, you’ve spent endless hours designing your logo and don’t plan on advertising without it. However, if you look closer, you’ll realize organization recognition comes down to the impression your brand leaves on your customer—not whether they can put a name to it. Your company’s identity comes from the voice you create. Establish and maintain your desired voice to position your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
Asking yourself who your company is at its most basic level helps you define your main goals and ultimately allows you to set a trajectory for long-term growth. It can remind you of why you started your company and what goals you need to place at the forefront of your marketing technique. It can also help you trim away unnecessary expenses and revamp your brand, keeping your original purpose in mind.
Take MTV for example. For the last decade or so, MTV has been less of a source for music entertainment and more like that friend you’re embarrassed to have hung out with in middle school. Recently, MTV has restructured its branding initiatives in an effort to go back to its roots. It’s refocusing on what originally made the brand iconic: great music, pop culture, and connecting with the younger generation. MTV took some much needed time to find itself and is now on a better path to stay on the cutting edge of entertainment.
Why Am I Here?
The perfect follow-up question to “Who am I?” is “Why am I here?” If your only answer is to earn a living, you may not be in the right industry. Successful businesses stem from the owners’ desire to work in a field they’re passionate about, to fill a need they see in the current market, or to create a product the world needs. If you’re in business simply to turn a profit, it will show in your service or product.
Asking yourself why your business exists, what you designed it to do, and what your vision for the future is can help you assess its current health. Hopefully, you came up with a mission statement during the first legs of starting your company. Take a look at your original statement and assess how you’ve evolved since then. Are you headed in the direction you thought you’d be? You may realize your brand has gone in a whole new direction—for better or worse. If it’s the latter, take a look at what you can change to get back on an upswing.
Why Are My Employees Working Here?
Once you ascertain who your brand is and why it’s here, it’s time to look into the realm of your employees. Asking why your personnel work for you can be daunting—after all, there’s no guarantee you’ll like the answer. If you get responses such as “I don’t know” or “It’s good money,” you may want to analyze what you can do differently to make your employees understand the goals you have for your brand. Your employees should be your brand’s biggest fans—if they aren’t, this may point to a problem within your marketing strategy.
Ideally, your employees should have answers that show they care about your brand’s vision and goals and that prove they enjoy working for you. Ask yourself what you can do to better your employees’ time at your company, such as perks like a free vacation day on their birthday or other inventive ways to show your appreciation. Happy employees are a sign of a healthy, stable workplace environment.
Does My Brand Evoke Emotion?
The last thing a good business owner wants is to have a brand that leaves consumers feeling neutral. Neutral may be better than someone disliking your brand, but how much better? Neutral consumers are less likely to stay loyal and more likely to choose a brand they’re passionate about. The golden question isn’t if you want your brand to evoke emotion, but how to do so.
Gauge how customers perceive your brand by reading customer reviews, judging the level of consumer engagement with your brand, and looking at how customers perceive your social media profiles. While the number of likes you get on Facebook posts may relate more to poor social media marketing than the emotions your brand evokes, it’s a good starting point for making positive changes. If you’re losing customers or your retention rate is receding, you may have a customer experience problem. Identify where the issue is coming from, and try to remedy the situation before the negative response causes permanent damage.
If you’re experiencing a sales slump, it could be due to regular market fluctuations—or it could be due to something you can improve within your company. You may be tempted to put on rose-colored glasses when it comes to your brand, but an honest reevaluation may be just what you need to boost sales.
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