The following are the first few in my top 10 list of the most primary (and critical) considerations. Even in the midst of these final few weeks of holiday shopping frenzy and promotional mayhem, it's a good time to do a quick brand audit for your business and see if your brand needs a quick polish - or a complete review. If needed, make a commitment to get your (brand) house in order before the new year... and resolve to stay consistent in your attention to each during 2010; building and managing a brand is an ongoing endeavor.
1. Know your POSITION
A positioning statement is a concise statement which defines your business and its reason for being. It should clearly communicate 4 things:
- Who your brand is in business for FOR WHOM
- The category in which your brand competes WHAT
- The benefits that customers will derive from using your products WHY
- The proof – or Reasons to Believe – that your brand delivers what is promised HOW
Sample positioning statement format.
What are others doing to service your customers and position themselves in the marketplace you intend to serve? How are you leading the pack or continuing to differentiate yourself against this competition? If you don’t have a sense for who else is serving your target audience, and how and what they are doing to distinguish themselves, you’re not going to be able to stay in the market competitively.
Not only should you understand your own position – as stated above – but you should have a sense of the position your primary competitors are taking. List those businesses who compete in your space and identify how they are understood in the market, what they offer, where they specialize -- anything that will help you get a grasp on where YOUR business and products sit in the competitive space. Resolve to own your space and incorporate the benefits and unique attributes of working with your brand into your positioning.
Who is buying your products or services? What do they need? What do they want? To understand your target audience, you not only need to identify who would ideally engage with your brand for its product attributes and benefits, but what other factors influence their lives and help drive their purchase decisions. Customers purchase for product-driven reasons, but they also purchase for emotional reasons. They “buy” into brands that make them feel good, or that make them feel like they belong to a group. As well, consider the cultural influences of your audience, how they engage with their family and friends, what they seek in their lives. The better you understand who is engaging with your brand, the better you can position and compete in the marketplace.
4. Know your MARKET
What’s happening in your industry? Are you on top of the general trends and normal fluxuations? Where is the market heading? By understanding the movements occurring within your industry, you can best manage your position and stay on par or – better yet – ahead of the competition. Unless you’re in a unique position of creating a new business paradigm, there should be plenty of resources for you to gain insight; conferences, industry journals, blogs, market research firms. If your business is serving a significant enough portion of your identified market, you may even find industry trends within your own sales and customer interactions.
Food for thought... more to come.