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  • Lindsay

Do you really know your business?

A lot of people tell me that they don’t know what to say in their marketing. They struggle for ideas to put in their blog, in social media posts or on their website. More often than not this is because a person hasn’t spent time getting under the skin of their business. Little do they know that this can actually be the key to success.

We all know what we sell and why we think someone should by from us, but a lot of businesses lack an overall vision. This might sound quite idealistic but in reality it’s just a simple statement of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it. It’s very easy to say success or more money, but that’s not really a vision. A vision digs deeper into a business: it looks at the market, looks at customers, considers the competition and sets a marker in the sand of where you want to be.

At the very basic end, a company could state that it wanted to be “the best in its field”. But this means nothing and helps no one. The best at what? If you were selling shoes, would you really say that you wanted to be the best shoe seller in the world? That would imply that you’d sell any sort of shoe to any sort of customer with no differentiation at all. Being the best in the world overall is an incredibly difficult goal to achieve. And not only does it become a hard sell for the company, it’s also too vague for customers to understand.

As consumers we want to buy into a brand story. We want to know the companies we’re buying from, what they stand for and what the experience is going to be like buying from them. And the importance of this is increasing as millennials are expecting far more from brands than ever before. This means that a company’s “why” has to be thought through. Selling shoes because you happen to have a shoe shop isn’t good enough. Brands need to demonstrate an understanding of their market, of their products and the supply chain around them. They also need to show their passion and communicate their particular personality. None of this requires selling but it all aids the sales process.

This means that a 21st century vision has to be about the specifics of a company’s why, what, where, how and to whom. Your customers are asking these questions so you need to be ready to answer them. But the good news is that when you do answer them, you’ll have established a clear position. All you need to do then is communicate it - which actually becomes the easy bit.

Let me explain. Ask yourself the following questions, but don’t just scribble down your gut response. Research your market, query your customers, find out what the competition is doing and decide what you honestly want to achieve through your business. Then write down your answers.

1. Why did your company start?

2. What does it really sell?

3. Where do you sell?

4. How easy is it for people to buy from you?

5. Who are your customers?

6. Why should they buy from you?

The shoe seller might say:

1. I wanted to offer a more vibrant range of shoes for extra special occasions that can’t be bought elsewhere

2. Ladies shoes for weddings, special events and evenings out

3. I have a shop on a high street for people to find out the quality of my products, I sell through the internet and I attend multiple exhibitions

4. The internet is the easiest way for people to purchase my products and I also have contact details for people to get in touch

5. My customers are females with disposable income that want to stand out from the crowd and make a statement

This isn’t a real shop, but this pretend entity has understood its customer, found a clear message to send out to people, knows its market and realises who it is. The answers to these questions can all be put together to create a vision of what the company wants to achieve and it can also be used to create a marketing plan. We know who the company is targeting, what sort of events the customers go to, and what is of interest to them. Harnessing that important information is the actual key to marketing success.

You may not have an angle as niche as the shoe example, but there is always a unique story behind why you’re in business and why someone should buy from you. Find that story and nurture it. It could unlock your future.

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