Small business owners are entrepreneurs creating their own paths to success, and creating an identity has everything to do with whether or not your small business is surviving and thriving. Without a specific statement of who you are, your value proposition, and what separates you from your competition, you are eventually doomed to fail.
Maybe we should have started this article on an upbeat note to be more positive, but the industry trends for small businesses were less than positive over the past few years. When 2008 hit, every business took one straight to the jaw, and no one could keep doing business as usual. Closures, bankruptcies, and downsizing killed businesses without a strong identity.
Our team has been working in the appliance and retail industry for many years, and we have seen tired brands with no identity drop off the map. Long before the money issues came to the surface, some business owners were thrashing about from one idea to the next. They had no idea how to catch the ongoing attention of their audience.
Now is the time to stop and rethink who you are in your industry. When a customer walks in your door, talks with you over the phone, and tries to make a purchase, did he or she really understand your value and your unique offerings? If you relegate customers to a price guarantee message in your advertising, they immediately throw you into the price-war pile with every big box store and chain that has no identity besides constant advertising. Here are some ideas that will help you establish your identity:
- Start conversations with groups of employees and ask them about your identity; that will give you your first glimpse of reality.
- Ask your employees to share what people say about your company.
- Look at your advertising through the eyes of your customer. Do you present a low-price message with taglines constantly presenting product price, product price, product price?
- Do you have a mission statement that is clear and easy to communicate?
- What are the top five things that you do differently than your competition? Can your employees easily communicate those five differentiators?
- And most importantly, where are the opportunities for growth in your market place? How can you take advantage of them?
With a quick study of those succeeding in the industry today, you will find out what works. Some retailers have chosen to go the online route and their success is astounding. If you look inside their operations, you would see more than just a well-run website. They have rethought who they are in order to be dynamic online and by phone – selling and delivering at a different level. The retailers setting new trends in showroom appearance and presentation have rethought every detail of how they engage with clients. All of these unique players have embraced a specific identity that is leading them to great success.
So find your identity or get out of the way because customers want more than a price guarantee. Identity sets you apart, gives your employees specific direction and pride in what they do, and draws customers like bees to honey. Identity is directly tied to your success.