It seems that almost every second day I hear of a friend starting their own business. They give me a call, excited, to let me know about the new venture … and to ask for advice. And it is funny, as a marketing professional, this is my stock in trade – turning ideas into words and pictures, but for entrepreneurs keen to kick start their business, this can be daunting.
The thing is, we have all been sold and marketed to so we at least have a sense of what is required. We need to be able to tell people how to contact us, so we will need business cards. And we will have products or services to offer them, so we will need some sales collateral of some kind – flyers, brochures or maybe a catalogue. And website. We’ll need a website.
What about advertising? Should we get some of those Google AdWords, or perhaps be more focused with the classifieds in the local newspaper?
All this sounds fine … just fine … but we are getting ahead of ourselves. With just a little planning we can maximise our time and creative efforts while also building what will turn into a successful brand.
So let’s take a look at the basics: How do you get started?
Oh – and if you think it’s with a logo – STOP RIGHT NOW and read what follows!
Six steps to craft your key message
It can be very expensive to produce any form of collateral, not just in monetary terms, but in time as well. But following these steps will help you avoid the pitfalls:
1. Mission/Proposition: Describe your business proposition in 10 words or less. This is very difficult and will require a number of iterations, but start with a sentence and whittle it down word by word.
2. Vision: How are you going to activate your mission? This is your vision for your business. Again, keep it brief.
3. Message: What is your core message? Keep it clear and free of jargon. Again, this may take some time to refine in plain language, but spend the time doing so. Don’t hide behind “marketing speak”.
4. Need: What need does your product or service satisfy? Your “message” should speak directly to this need. Think about it carefully; refine the message as well as the need until they are in balance and feel authentic. Also, make it easy to say so that it rolls off the tongue.
5. Customer pain points: Now you need to take an outside-in approach. What are your customers looking for? What are their key “pain points”? Articulate these in clear and concise language.
6. Why you: Your customers could go to any business to fulfil their needs. Why would they choose you? Make sure you have a “why you” for every one of your “customer pain points”.
In my next article, I will explain how you take these messages and work up towards “themes”.