Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Guest Blog: Stop Being a Business Owner and Start Building a Brand

Beth read this great blog and we wanted to share it with our readers.  Well said, Robin Wilson!

The Great Recession forced people take the initiative to go into business for themselves and take advantage of the entrepreneurial climate. Now there’s a new phenomenon facing many of the self-employed: they’ve become successful but can’t seem to take it to the next level. While they’ve done a great job building a business, they have yet to build a brand. Building a brand is what all small business owners need to strive in the new economy to get noticed, gain recognition and enjoy a new level of success.
Having a strong customer base for your product or service is important, yet the better route is becoming a brand name that is recognized everywhere.  More opportunities will come to your business once you create an established brand.  Here are five strategies to stop being just a business owner and start building start a brand:
-       Build partnerships inside and outside of your industry – The old saying “it takes a village” is the best advice to turn your business into a brand.  The more key partnerships you build both inside and outside of your core area of expertise, the more opportunities will come your way.  In the digital age, this is becoming even easier thanks to social media platforms, blogs and other online sites like YouTube.
-       Increase visibility – Speaking engagements, sponsoring giveaway bags at events or media appearances are some great options if you do not have the budget for traditional advertising. The more you get your name out there, the more recognized you become.  Plus the upside to speaking engagements and media is they are both implied endorsements.  While advertising offers visibility, the downside is that anyone can purchase an ad.
-       Products – Don’t just offer a service; turn it into a product. Anyone can become an author or produce an audio program these days.  Our core business is interior design, but we have leveraged our expertise with a licensed line of kitchens, furniture, hypoallergenic bedding and bath products. Plus, we wrote a book and are working on a line of mommy & baby products since I am a new mom. Get creative and see what products you can introduce to the market.
-       Persistence – It’s called brand building for a reason: it takes time and your foundation must be based on expertise in a core area.  We all want it to happen overnight and to be the next big thing. But it takes a lot of persistence and years to build real customer loyalty.  If it’s rushed or faked, people will see right through it.  If done correctly, you’ll have a loyal following that will support your business over time.
-       Tag consistently – What catch phrase are you using to describe your company or product? However you brand yourself, keep it consistent. I’m tagged as Robin Wilson, an eco-friendly or healthy space designer. Use the same language in all that you do, and the social media marketplace will begin to understand your branding.
As business owners, we tend to do everything we can to serve our customers. And while that is very important, make just a small amount of time each day to implement some of these strategies, and you’ll start to make the transition from business to brand, and watch your company grow.

About the Author:  Robin Wilson is a nationally recognized healthy space designer and president of Robin Wilson Home in New York City.  She has a line of hypoallergenic luxury comforters sold in Bed, Bath & Beyond stores in North America.   

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