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Looking to take your business to the next level? Two key areas which will catapult you forward.

September 4, 2018

Are you a successful business that has been delivering product and services for some time? A good list of existing clients? A steady flow of engagement?

Could be better but it's certainly far from bad?

In my work I come across a lot of these types of businesses. Businesses which are doing nicely thank you very much but are looking to secure their future and take their business to the next level.

For any business owner worth their salt, it's a common question or concern and the fact that you may be asking yourself the exact same thing is positive. It shows the desire for a strategy. A desire to secure the business and potentially the futures of those who are working for, or with, you. Let's not kid ourselves, you've already achieved a lot and without the knowledge gained, the business wouldn't exist. So essentially the past is one to be celebrated and the future to be defined.

Frequently, however, it's at this point where business suddenly feels a little bit lost. Lost for ideas. Lacking the expertise that may be needed for the next stage whether that be marketing support, digital technologies or something else... The business needs input but it's not clear what.

From over 25 years in business, I've learned that the following 2 key areas are frequently overlooked or avoided, but are fundamental in the building of a business that wants to step forward and be counted. To be successful and then some.

  1. An undefined brand - define it and lock it in

Just because a business has grown and survived up until this point, it doesn't mean that the business has a strong brand identity which will typically move a business from a commodity or rational transaction to a cherished and highly valued brand among its existing and potential customers. Brand helps a business to stand out. It represents a platform for growth and guides a business on a structured journey. It's this brand promise which guides the story of the next stage of the journey.

I've heard lots of people argue against the point. Brands are about big business. I'm a business which is not quite so complex. It's not needed with my customers. But I'd argue that without a meaning behind the business which can connect with customers more deeply, the link between them and your business will be superficial and easy to break. And more importantly your business won't seem to be different to any other in the same sector. Brand not only develops a relationship but it also is a "landing light" for those who are still considering their options.

At the end of the day, brand identity gives your business a credibility and clout. It demonstrates that you mean business and have invested in order to truly engage. If you think of any business that is top of mind or considered to be impressive, it's all about the brand.

2. An inability to engage in a dialogue - moving from follower to leader

"What in God's name does this mean?" I hear you cry.

Good question and one that isn't immediately obvious.

Of course every business communicates with its customer, every day in some cases. There are people picking up the phone, sending out orders, answering questions, maybe even interacting on social media (at a push) but I'm not talking about this sort of communication.

I'm talking about communicating within your sector and your market. Putting your head above the parapet and staking your claim. Having something to say. A point of view which you communicate on a bigger platform. I'm not talking expos necessarily, although that is an end goal. I'm talking social media, events within your community, engaging with your customers on a higher, added value level. Talking about your industry, identifying the trends which will affect you and other people's businesses.

This gets customers to sit up and take notice. To pick up the phone rather than to direct to voicemail. To see you differently and in a wider context. Your business is no longer about selling cars, for instance, but it's about talking about where automotive is going and the future ups, downs and sharp corners.

You're suddenly talking about the future. Engaging and instructing. Inspiring and in some cases worrying other businesses who are shaking in your wake. You have permission to hold round tables. To put on events. Maybe even broaden the remit of your business offer - training? Speaker? Mentor? New departments? New products? Innovation? You're suddenly invited to strategic events and meetings for your advice and recommendation.

These are all consequences of engaging in dialogue and having a point of view.

But of course, it isn't always easy to carve out this route yourself and this is where additional support is required. To inspire, train, coach, even do some of the heavy lifting for you...

If you're racking your brains and worrying, or even ready and set to push on forward but need more focus, a brand story or even a journey planner or content to be that leader then get in touch.