I will admit: I find Justin Bieber motivational. Beyond the very American “rags-to-riches” story that we already know about Justin and his family, the amount of loyalty his fans have to his brand is what every business owner wants. Don’t deny it, you know it’s true.
As a new business owner, you probably have a load of ideas and talent. If you aren’t sharing them with the world, you’re doing everyone an injustice. You could be the best at what you do. But if know one knows who you are or believes that you’re the best, it’s over. Unless of course, Usher just happens to find you on YouTube.
So it’s your job to develop a strategy that positions your in the place it needs to be, in such a way that people can connect and see the value in what you’re offering from “all around the world”. Like Bieber, you need to develop a strategy that is responsible for fostering the almost cult-like, fanatic following of his consumers.
A note before reading: if you haven’t heard All Around The World by Justin Bieber, please listen to it so you can understand my corny puns and references. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlAw48HucqY
Another note: throughout this article I use “fan” and “consumer” interchangeably. Both of these nouns are an appropriate description of the people using your service. If your brand represents a movement vs. a business, “fan” will become more appropriate.
“You’re beautiful, beautiful, you should show it”
First things first: you need to understand what a brand is. A brand could be defined as some combination of things consumers think and feel about what your business offers and who you are. To you, your brand is everything that you represent, strive for, and value. Note that your products and services are not your brand, but more so something your brand offers. Even though most people wouldn’t consider a person, such as Bieber, a “brand” – he is representative of his brand. Justin is not the brand, but his core message, vision, and how others perceive what he offers is his brand. To consumers, a brand is an evaluation of:
Based on how these different elements impact your consumers, they will develop brand associations, which are the things that your customers think about when they see something that represents your brand. Take Mercedes Benz for example. Most people associate a brand with certain adjectives that describe the consumer’s perception of the brand: quality, class, reliability, and affluence.
So, how do you create a brand that does all of the stuff you want it to?
There’s a lot you can do. So much that entire books have been written on the topic (I would recommend Breakthrough Branding by Catherine Kaputa). But here are a few things to get you on the right track:
- Choose a good name. Although self-explanatory, a name is the biggest identifier of your business. It needs to be chosen in such a way that is cohesive and unified with everything that you do, with a lot of consideration to how your consumers will perceive it. Your name should be easy to spell and pronounce, indicate your core qualities in some sort of way, easily convert into other languages, and of course, unique. In the same way, your tagline and other catch-phrases are vital to your brand image. When I hear someone say, “never say never”, I always think of the JB song. Before he came along, I would have thought it was just some cliché phrase.
- Identify your brand attributes. Although attributes sound like they could be the same thing as associations, they’re not. Your attributes are a reflection of your businesses characteristics. In other words, it is part of the personality of your brand. Your brand needs to be appealing to your consumers, redundant/sustainable, consistent, and positioned correctly.
- Design wisely. A huge mistake new business owners make is underestimating the importance of design psychology and the functioning of their user-interface (UI) and user-experience (UX). If you don’t care about your brand and what people think of you, then go onto a design market place and pay $300 for a logo. But if you want to be successful and portray your message in the best way possible, you need to choose a designer that understands branding and creative strategy. Although many designers know how to make things that look pretty, not every designer knows how to make a brand cohesive and appealing. Make sure you do your research before dishing out money to a designer. Because if people can say “they’re no different than us” – you have a problem.
“Baby what you doin’? Where you at? Where you at?”
Once you have the ground floor of your brand developed, you need to position your brand in a manner that consumers will prefer yours over others (this is known as brand positioning). For this reason, it is important to have a clear understanding of what your consumers want and except.
Brand positioning is about creating an emotional connection with the consumer by utilizing an avenue that others aren’t. In other words, you’re creating more value in your brand when compared to others. Bieber positions himself through a variety of ways. But in my personal opinion, his biggest method of establishing a strong relationship with his consumers is by writing music that his fans identify with. He tells stories that his fans feel connected to. And this is exactly what you need to do when positioning your brand. To create brand awareness, you need to:
- Understand what your consumers want. When writing your content and developing your outreach strategy, don’t tell people what your skills are or why your product is so great: tell consumers what you can do for them. Bieber’s music is a catalyst of emotion for his fans. They buy his album and go to his concerts for the experience. With any product or service, the same rule applies: people buy experience, not your product. So if you have a firm understanding of what your consumers need and want, you can deliver just that.
- Show people that you’re a pro. Beyond expressing what you can do for your consumers, have others prove it. Ask for a combination of written, video, and audio testimonials/reviews from past consumers or those that have authority around what you’re offering. In Bieber’s case, Usher was the authority. Since Usher liked Bieber, fans figured they would like Bieber too. And most of them did. You should be putting yourself out there as much as possible by way of blogging, e-books, videos, networking, speaking engagements, social media – all in an effort to spread brand awareness.
“All around the world, people want to be loved (yeah)”
Beyond creating an experience through music, concerts, books, movies, and even perfumes, Bieber shows a lot of love to his fans in a variety of ways (here is a list of some of the causes he has helped with). As a business owner, you need to be doing the same thing.
I know this isn’t any new information, but the importance of giving back and showing appreciation to your consumers can make or break your brand. Even if you have a great experience but afterwards you hang up your consumers to dry, they’ll remember that.
- Just say thank you. Make sure your customers know that you appreciate them. A hand-written thank you card, a shout out on Twitter, or a simple phone call can go a long way. And not just when it’s convenient for you, like at the end of an e-mail or something. Make it a duty of your brand to show some love to your consumers and community. Depending on your industry and consumers, you can develop loyalty programs and other ways for recognizing your clients.
- Share your story. Believe it or not, people do want to hear your story and where you came from. Myself included, many people can relate to the struggles that Bieber and his family endured in his early life: parents separating, living in poverty, the sacrifices of his mother. These experiences are what sway us in the direction we are heading. The part of your story that you think no one wants to hear or makes you most uncomfortable telling is what needs to be shared. Brainstorm ways you can inject your personality and story into what you do.
- Gary Vaynerchuk wrote an awesome book titled, The Thank You Economy to show business owners how to create relationships that last. Consider this: suppose you have a small amount of loyal consumers that feel very happy with your service. Not only is it easier to re-market to current consumers, but these are the people that will be more than happy to give reviews, tell others about your service, and essentially market for you – all because you are providing an epic experience.
“I think it’s time, think it’s time that you show it”
It is time that you show it. Really.
If you’re on this website, you have ideas, goals, a purpose, and a vision that you think could benefit others. If you didn’t think that, you wouldn’t call yourself an entrepreneur. If you aren’t positioning your brand in such a way that others understand who you are and what you can do for them, you are doing everyone an injustice. It’s time for people to hear about you “all around the world”.
Tim Frie is a life coach and entrepreneur with a mission to encourage young people to live life on their own terms. Connect with Tim on Twitter @thatfrieguy
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