As an entrepreneur, you’re pulled in a hundred different directions. It’s easy to be swept away by the moment, day after day… attending to the crisis at hand, selling to the prospect who’s right in front of you, or ticking that next thing off the list.
Time for long-term planning? Not so much.
Alex Charfen, developer of the Entrepreneurial Personality Type (EPT) and one of my favorite online gurus, recently posted a video in his EPT Facebook group about the 50% Future Focus Rule. Charfen says that in order for entrepreneurs to scale and grow businesses, we must spend at least 50% of our time in strategic, long-term planning.
Here’s something you may not have considered:
Branding is one of the most powerful strategies for long-term profit.
So if you’re seeing your brand as a function of design or an exercise in story telling, it’s time for a mindset shift.
Here are four ways to turn your brand into a profit machine:
Protect Premium Pricing through Differentiation
If you’re consistently using discounts to lure in new prospects or hang on to customers you’re in fear of losing, it’s time to stop and consider your positioning.
Ask yourself what I call the million-dollar brand question: Why would someone buy from your business out of all the businesses in the world?
Or, to come from another perspective: How can you assume a #1 position?
You don’t have to be the biggest to be #1. But you do have to find a meaningful way to set your business apart so you can assume some kind of #1 position.
You could sell the chewiest bagels on the planet.
Or you could sell the freshest bagels in South-Central Iowa.
Both are #1 positions. And both set you up for premium pricing.
Some years ago, Derrick Daye at Branding Strategy Insider wrote a post about 50 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand, and it’s still one of my favorite all-time pieces on the subject.
Take the time to create a powerful positioning strategy, and maximize your long-term profit.
Because #1 brands don’t need to give discounts. And trust me… you ARE #1 at something.
Stand for Transformation
Customers don’t buy products. They don’t buy features. They don’t even buy benefits. They buy transformations.
They buy the thing they’ll become after they use your product or service.
Identify and understand that transformation, and you’ve developed the key to long-term sales. You’ve developed the underlying theme for all of your messaging. You’ve developed a way to change the world – one renovation at a time.
That’s big stuff.
And setting aside the piddly daily stuff to create a plan to change the world (while setting up years of future sales)… Who doesn’t have time for that?
So find your transformation, and make your brand stand for that.
And it will stand apart because of that.
Create a Committed Community
There’s a whole litany of recent research about the importance of connection for the health of the human soul, the human mind, and the human race.
Have you thought about how your brand can connect… for the future health of your business?
The number one way to connection is through shared values. We hang out with people who feel the way we do, think the way we do, live the way we do, love the way we do. If you can create a well-defined set of values and beliefs for your brand, then your brand can hang out where you target market hangs out. And your business will have something meaningful and authentic to discuss, other than why people should buy your latest thing.
The key to long-term profit is to then invite these wonderful, like-minded souls into a community your brand creates. And to develop an ethos around that community that both defines and promotes the brand.
We get the impression that these kinds of communities are accidental, organic, or a natural outgrowth of daily communications. But that’s naïve at best, and lazy at worst.
To build a committed community around your brand, you need an authentic and established set of core brand values, and a plan for how to communicate, demonstrate, and foster those values among your constituents. You need everything from lingo to a place to let it flow.
Engineer Extraordinary Experiences
So many small businesses use branding as a way to bring people through the door, and then stop right there with the juicy good stuff. But the payback from branding is built over the long haul, through extraordinary consumer experiences. And these experiences must be engineered.
If you’re thinking that “engineered” means inauthentic or disingenuous, nothing could be further from the truth. Taking time out to ensure that your customers feel noticed, loved, respected and celebrated is how things get real… real fast.
So take a look at your processes – from your website homepage or introductory email, all the way through to the delivery of your product or the follow-up with those who didn’t buy.
Choose four or five key places where you’ll absolutely STUN your current customers or prospects.
Engineer single moments in time where a current, should-be, or used-to-be customer would say, “I can’t believe they just did that.”
Can you personally call them thank them? Send a hand-written note? Customize something in a way that’s a shock or surprise? Give a free, unexpected bonus? Include them in developing the process? Invite them behind the scenes?
Extraordinary experiences leave people wanting more. And they give people something to talk about… on the phone, on the train, and on social media.
If we need to spend 50% of our time in long-term planning activities in order to grow and scale our businesses, then branding is one of the most valuable places to start. So if you’ve been looking at your brand as an art project, step away from the graphic design software, and instead design a plan for your future sales and profit.
What are you doing with your brand to change the future of your business? Share with me in the comments below.