The world we find ourselves in
When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the business world was thrown into uncertainty. Since this point, small business owners have encountered a mix of emotions ranging from feeling like ‘we’re all in the same boat’ and strange a sense of camaraderie, through to a fear of the future due to there being no clear end in sight. The truth, as it emerges, is that the notion of ‘being in the same boat’ is probably not reality. Some businesses have rocketed during this time (anyone got shares in Zoom?!), others have had the rug pulled from beneath their feet so quickly it has left them startled and unsure what to do for the best. Whilst we don’t yet fully understand or know the full impact coronavirus is going to have on small businesses, what is clear is that it is still a very live situation and if small businesses are going to survive, and indeed thrive, they need to adopt a new agile way of thinking to stay in the game. Not agile in the project workflow sense, but agile in their ability and willingness to respond to a dynamic situation.
Playing the long game
Most small businesses find it hard to devote time to brand and marketing. Our own well-meaning efforts to deliver on project or client work always seems to trump any endeavour to think more strategically about the future of our own business, no matter the consequence. But if like many businesses, you’ve had a bit more time recently to think about your brand and marketing, you may well have encountered another barrier – focus. I believe focus is the number one challenge business owners face when it comes to their own brand and marketing efforts (and probably even how they spend their time, but that’s for another post). The problem with focus is that it’s scary because it always means saying no to something. It requires courage to say no today, to create space both mentally and time-wise for a brighter tomorrow. As we continue to discover this ‘new normal’ we are being encouraged to embrace focus, an ability that is more important than ever before. In our Brand Strategy Workshops we run with clients (in person or via Zoom), we work through the various components to creating a clearly defined brand (vision, audience, personality and more) and the one key discipline required at every stage is focus. The ability to make decisions and stick to them.
Why is focus so important right now?
You are probably reading this because you feel a tug towards making some changes in your own business and life that may well have been triggered by the coronavirus situation. Like you, there will be thousands of others who are feeling the same. The opportunity to provide real solutions to real problems is ripe. But as demand increases, so does a sense of urgency, which brings with it a much reduced attention span. What does all of that mean? Attention spans on website landing pages is estimated at anywhere between 7 – 10 seconds before a visitor makes the decision to stay or leave the site. The need to know who your audience is and tell them quickly how you can help solve their problem has never been more vital. If you don’t tell them quickly, they’ll move on to someone who will. Donald Miller, author of Building a Storybrand, insists “people don’t buy the best products and services, they buy the ones they can understand the fastest”. Whilst we could likely have a lively discussion around this bold and controversial opinion, I love it because it leads us to thinking more objectively about our own brand and marketing. Miller challenges readers to cut to the chase and stop trying to put on a beauty parade with their marketing and website efforts, and simply ask… is it working and do people understand? In the context of the elevator pitch, or the moment a prospective ideal client lands on your website, your focus needs to be the ‘thing’ you do that is going to make their life better. Waste too much time telling them your life story and they’ll leave on the hunt for someone who appears to be answering their problem in a more direct way. Harsh, blunt, probably not true in every instance, but certainly the case more often than we’d like to admit.
As a small business ourselves, we’ve spent time recently clarifying Sublime’s own brand and redeveloping our website to serve the business and our clients better. I’d be lying if I said this came really quickly and easily (and yes, we were definitely contending with our own designer perfectionist tendencies!) If you’re a business owner, you’ll know how hard it can be to devote time to your own brand and marketing, but now is the moment to dig deep. Your business exists for a reason. It’s time to believe in the value of what you do and get better at articulating the transformation it brings. You then need to create a clear and succinct path for potential new customers to follow, that clearly calls them to action without confusing them. Do this and you overcome one of the biggest, yet often overlooked, challenges in business – focus.
By taking time to dream and coin your ultimate vision, then clearly define who you serve and how you will engage them, you will be amongst the best businesses who have the courage and boldness to specialise, to say no distractions and properly position yourself to be the best business you can be.
If you would like to see if Sublime is the right fit to work with you on your brand strategy, book a call and let’s talk.