You did it - you took the leap and started your own business. It's both an exciting, and potentially nerve wracking, time. You’re likely wondering, “Where do I begin?” Or, if you’ve already been around for a while, “Am I doing the right things to become successful?” These questions, along with many other potential ones, are part of the business ownership journey. You’re not alone. Yet there are some ways to find direction and rest easy while you build your business. One key point to remember, when establishing your business, it’s important to take the narrow versus the broad path.
• Honing your core offer
• Learning as much as you can about your customers
• Focusing on relationships when you begin building brand awareness
3 Ways to Narrow your Core Offer (and Market)
“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” – Seth Godin, Author and Marketing Expert
- 1. Identify your passions, experience, and skill sets
It’s important to examine your skills, experiences, and what gets you excited, especially if you’re only just beginning your entrepreneurial journey. In other words, start with what you have. If your background isn't in marketing, you’d likely not open a marketing agency. Focus on what you already know and build from there.
- 2. Discover one problem you can solve
Discover problems or pain points you and others around you have. If your skill sets align with any of those issues - you might be onto something! Examine your home and workplace - are there problems that could be fixed with a specific product or service?
- 3. Hone your niche market
It’s common to assume marketing to more people will mean greater opportunities for increased sales. However, serving the masses in today’s noisy advertising world will likely mean your messaging won’t reach your prospects. Instead, honing a specific niche makes you more competitive, and those individuals will have more opportunity to hear your message. Ask yourself, “Who will need or want my products and services?” This question is a great starting point for transitioning from serving “many” to a focused “few” instead.
3 Areas to Learn More About Your Customer (or Audience)
“Everything in branding [and business] starts and ends with your audience.” - Stephen Houraghan, Brand Master Strategist
Once you’ve narrowed your product or service and honed your audience, it’s time to learn as much as you can about them. Then, you’ll know where to best market and advertise your message.
- 1. Psychographics and demographics
Demographics are the most fundamental defining tool, including age, income, race, gender, occupation, marital status, and location. Psychographics on the other hand provide insights into personalities, including behaviors, values, attitudes, opinions, and lifestyles. Although psychographics and demographics are important, they’re only the starting point in your customer research.
- 2. External conflict
Your audience is currently facing a pain point (think about the problem you identified earlier), and with it, fear. As humans, we’re trying to move away from pain and towards desires. Discovering these external pain points (or conflicts) can open the door to greater knowledge about your audience and how to reach (and resonate with) them.
- 3. Internal conflict
With every external conflict, pain point, or fear, there’s usually an internal one. Let’s say you own a marketing agency. You discover your audience fears their website isn’t attracting traffic. Why? They fear they won’t succeed. Why? They fear they won’t be able to support their family. Ding ding ding - that’s the internal conflict! This internal conflict is foundational to your message moving forward.
Note - It can be challenging to learn more about your audience. So, begin with social media. It’s a tremendous resource and helpful starting place to gain meaningful insights.
3 Ways to Build Business (and Brand) Awareness
“Your brand is a story unfolding across all customer touch points.” - Jonah Sachs, Author, Expert and Speaker on Storytelling
As a business, you’ll be taking your audience on a transformational journey, helping them overcome a problem or conflict - and it all begins with awareness.
- 1. Lead with offering value
Relationships are key to any successful business, and building long-term brand awareness starts with offering value. Think educating, informing, and even entertaining. Just like in relationships with others, you want to get to know them, which builds trust and, ultimately, the opportunity to share more over other touch points.
- 2. Networking
Networking is when you interact with others to develop professional relationships. These in-person meetings (or video calls) are a crucial engagement point, helping you build relationships and increase awareness.
- 3. Focus on multiple touchpoints (e.g., website, social media, etc.)
Jeffrey Lant’s Rule of Seven states that you must connect with your audience at a minimum of seven times over 18 months before they remember you. It takes various touch points over different platforms to build awareness, trust, and authority. Right now, Google is king for businesses, so website efficiency is more critical than ever. Social media is also still a popular source of engagement and information, so it’s beneficial to use those platforms as well.
We all have different experiences, skills, and perspectives. When you can identify a problem, align it with a specific audience to help, and then build relationship-driven awareness, you answer the crucial question, “Who are you that nobody else is?” Ultimately, you’ll establish a successful business by way of the narrow path.