Marketing / branding / PR

If you want to build your brand – have an opinion

Let’s be real. No one gets anywhere by sitting on the fence about everything. And with small businesses, agencies and coffee shops everywhere, how are you going to make yours attract people over the competition?

The obvious 

Let’s just quickly tick off the common business differentiators:

  • Quality
  • Price
  • Location / Accessibility
  • Speed/ Delivery

These will all get you so far. But, the real sweet spot is deeper than that. It is your values, ethics and opinions that will push your business to the next level. By embracing these, that’s how you build a genuinely loyal tribe with long-lasting relationships.

It’s not for everyone 

Nailing your flag to a colour is not for everyone. Hence why there are very successful people (because they do this) and those that do ok. Look at the achievements of James Smith. A PT that offers some straight-talking no-nonsense advice to people. He does not sugar coat any pills; he gives it to you straight, hard and fast. Not everyone likes that approach. But those that do, bloody love it. They become evangelists for him, spread his word and support his marketing and sales. 

James does not sit on the fence. There is no “meh” in his approach. James is very much “listen to me or f**k off”, knowing that he may only win over a smaller percentage of people. But because he has been so clear on views, that percent will be lifelong customers. James talks about this in his book, and it is something that all businesses can look to adopt.

Choosing an approach 

We are not saying adopt a persona like Beyoncé’s Sasha. Instead, look at the core values of your business, your ethics and then start to live by these. Weave them into everything you do. From the recruitment process to the types of companies you work with. Putting your head above the parapet will mean you will attract people and form partnerships with people that resonate with your values.

If your business is passionate about something, become an evangelist about it. Almost borderline preachy. Why? Because like James, you will attract people that feel exactly the same as you that will become loyal and long term customers – as long as you treat them well, provide value and the rest.

 

Examples

Starbucks communicates its values and ethics really well. From ethical sourcing to the environment, through to providing opportunities for their younger employees. Due to their good work, you may be able to brush under the carpet some of the practices you don’t agree with.

Do you support community causes? Whether this is about race, LGBTQ+, health or other. This can be another way people are attracted to working with you or buying from you. Why not look to donate a percent of profits to causes that are close to your heart? Or support in other ways such as giving your employees time, taking part in events and more. The Co-Op is a great example of a business that has local communities at the centre of their operations.

What is your approach to the environment? Allplants is a company that started because they wanted to improve their impact on the environment by offering 100% plant-based meals. They are clear on where they stand with meat and the environment. By being clear with where you stand,it will help you form partnerships with other businesses that have the same stance. 

Politics. While we have a melting pot of political views at TFG, some businesses are often very much one and not the other. A very contentious way to do business, but some have done this and had success when they are open and honest about their reasons to take a specific stance. A great example of this is Jonah Peretti, the founder and CEO of global internet news company BuzzFeed which you can read about here.

Beware of the pitfalls 

Before you embark on a tirade of swearing, become a preacher about women’s rights or anything else. Make sure that you are prepared to keep up the work, practice what you preach and know that you will turn off as many people as you attract. You may even get a bit of a backlash, so ensure you have a crisis comms plan in place to deal with any negativity quickly and professionally.

And do keep it professional

You can have an opinion and not be an arse. Do listen to others that don’t agree, you don’t have to slam them because they have a different viewpoint. Actually, by almost provoking others, you are opening up a discussion, and if others have the same or polar opposite views, which they have voiced on your content, is that a bad thing? If anything, they are highlighting your business to others, and some of those may agree with you.

Top tips to having an opinion

  • Keep it real and honest.
  • Uphold that view through everything you do.
  • Still be kind to those that don’t agree, but don’t feel you have to put up with trolling (that is why there are report and block buttons).
  • Build resilience. 
  • Ensure that your employees are also on board. 
  • Don’t hurt anyone!

Best of luck!

What to refresh your core values and brand?

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