After spending more than nine years in the female entrepreneur space and more than three decades in the world of brand building and marketing, I’ve witnessed a fatal flaw among many women start-up entrepreneurs; They do not consciously build their business brand.
It’s an omission that is costing them two of their most valuable resources – time and money.
Let’s start with the basics. What is a brand?
Simply put by some of the world’s top branding experts like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson, it’s your company’s reputation. It’s what your business truly stands for.
So, what does your business stand for? Why did you start it in the first place? (And money cannot be the authentic answer to this question). Only when you can thoughtfully and articulately answer this question, can you begin the important (and I’d say essential) task of building your company’s brand.
Why is brand building important? I offer you these three specific reasons:
1. Your business is probably not that original. Chances are people can get many of the same (or very similar) products or services you offer from someplace else. Yet, what is original and cannot be replicated by anyone else is YOU! Your unique DNA must be baked into every aspect of your business. These are your stories, your passions, your special talents that no one else can replicate. These one-of-a-kind offerings are why people will invest in your business and not your competitors.
2. It’s cheaper. Like anything valuable, branding is an investment. But, it’s an investment in something you truly believe in – perhaps even your life’s dream. So, making the decision to strategically build your brand and safeguard it from all others is definitely an investment worth making, especially to generate long term profits. I’ve witnessed too many women entrepreneurs slap up a website and declare themselves “open for business” without doing the internal and external work necessary to identify and communicate to the world what makes them special. They haven’t thoughtfully (or mathematically) determined who specifically they are in business to serve; Nor have they calculated the true value (aka price) people would be willing to pay for their offerings. These oft impulsive decisions cost them thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time to no avail. Many are left dazed, confused and discouraged when their businesses don’t magically “take off.” However, taking the time to build a strategic branding and marketing plan multiplies your odds for success. Your “ideal” customers gain a clear understanding of how your business enhances their lives and receive consistent information that keeps them loyal, true and faithful. Happy customers (especially female ones) often become enthusiastic ambassadors of their trusted brands to other like-minded customers, making ongoing marketing and outreach efforts simpler and less expensive. In the end, the old adage “a penny wise pound foolish” rings true for too many new entrepreneurs who choose to skip this foundation building element of their business.
3. Women entrepreneurs are meant to build brands. As the nurturers of this planet, women exist to build and nurture their relationships. And building authentic and long-lasting relationships is the key to building successful and profitable companies. People invest and buy from those they get to know, like, and trust. While men are totally capable of building these relationships – and some of the most successful male business owners do – many often focus on quick transactional ways of doing business, rather than investing in a more time intensive, relationship building strategy. It’s more natural for men to seek “report” and ROI with their customers, while women intrinsically seek “rapport” and the desire to make deeper connections with their professional colleagues. In my experience, it is the strong desire to build these authentic relationships in both our personal and professional lives that give women an entrepreneurial advantage. When we find a product or service that can change our lives, we can’t wait to shout it from the rooftops and tell the world about it. And that’s how women will continue to build our country’s most successful branded companies moving forward.
(If you still don’t believe me, pull on your spanks and meet me at an upcoming networking event and we can have a long chat about it.)
Tara Gilvar is the Founder and CEO of the women’s empowerment organization B.I.G. Believe Inspire Grow and Co-Founder of B.I.G. Marketing Services. Organizations designed to give women the inspiration, community and tools they need to be successful and fulfilled in their lives.
Join YWCA Bergen County and presenter Tara Gilvar on April 25 for WEN is Now: You Are Your Brand – Understanding the Power of Branding! Register online today! Get more information about WEN is Now Memberships and upcoming monthly topics.