Branding your business is probably not your first priority as a solopreneur or small business owner. That spot is usually reserved for scrambling to create positive cash flow. But branding your business is a powerful tool that can help create that positive cash flow. How?
First, let’s look at what brand is. Brand is the overall experience that your clients have when working with you. It’s the feeling they get when they see one of your ads or tell someone about you. Think about the companies you use that you like and trust. What do you feel right now? Is there a little smile on your face? Are you remembering a specific time when someone went out of their way to make sure you got what you needed?
I take my soon-to-be-a-classic Audi convertible to Steve’s Auto Shop when it needs some love. Which is often.This car costs me a small fortune to run so bringing it to Steve’s always involves some anxiety. Steve greets me with a wide open smile (after all, I am financing his kids’ college educations) and says, “Oh, no. What is she doing this time?” I suspect Steve has a soft spot for my little car. Something in his manner tells me it’s going to be all right. In fact, Steve has a great bedside manner. He delivers bad news softly, shares your happiness when there’s good news, and bends over backwards to make repairs affordable. He’s a straight shooter. He and his head mechanic Walter (my savior) will do everything they can to keep my little Audi running with as little out of pocket as possible. So even though I spend a decent amount of money with them, I smile when I think of Steve’s Auto Shop. I know, like, and trust him. And guess what? Whenever someone asks for a good mechanic, I send them to Steve. I know he’ll do right by them. How did I find Steve? Someone referred him to me.
The only marketing Steve does is sponsoring a Little League team and buying ads in the school newspapers. Which is another way of saying he doesn’t advertise. But he’s always busy. Why? Because of his brand. The short version: Trust. The longer version: Quality work at prices you can afford by people you trust. That’s not written down anywhere. It’s not a slogan or a tagline. I don’t think he even has a logo. But he sure as hell has a brand. It’s how Steve conducts his life. It’s how Steve conducts his business. His brand is a direct extension of his personality.
Think about companies you don’t like or trust. Something happened — a bad experience or maybe they just had an attitude of indifference. What do you feel right now?
That’s brand. And a positive brand creates repeat business and strong referrals.
So why all this talk about brand on a book writing blog? Simply put, you have to understand brand — your brand — before you start writing your book. Your brand appeals to a certain type of person, your target market. (Warning: Shameless Plug Ahead!) This October, Sharon Vornholt and I are doing a special three day live event (so much better than dead events) where we put everything together for you. It’s called Branding, Books, and Beaches and it is all about helping you define your brand and your target market, and how that will shape the book you write.
Your book is a marketing tool and as such, you want it to appeal to your target market and address their needs. More than that, you want it to reflect you: your personality, your principles, your beliefs. If you don’t work now to shape your brand, the market place will.
PS: If you’re on the southwest coast of Florida and need a great mechanic, you can find Steve’s Auto Shop at 305 Tamiami Trail in Punta Gorda.