Understanding your Brand/Business – What business are you really in?

Your brand – are you clear what your business is and what it’s not?Branding and communcation <strong> © <a href='http://www.dreamstime.com/icefields_info'>Alain Lacroix</a> | <a href='http://www.dreamstime.com/'>Dreamstime.com</a></strong>

This may seem like a strange question to ask business owners, of course your clear on what your business is, right? If I asked your managers, admin team, sales people and receptionist would they all give me the same answer within a few seconds?

For example an Architect would normally say – ‘I design houses’- whereas I would suggest:

I am in the business to help people fall in love with their home all over again’!

There are hundreds of equally skilled Architects out there but why should a client choose you, what makes you stand out from the crowd? Creating a strong brand will allow you to:

  • Differentiate yourself from your competition
  • Position your focused message into the hearts and minds of your customer
  • Persist and be consistent in your efforts
  • Customise your services to reflect your personal brand
  • Deliver your message clearly and quickly
  • Project credibility
  • Strike an emotional chord
  • Create strong customer loyalty

How a brand creates perceptions in the mind of a customer

A brand is communicated by two kinds of messages:

Tangible messagesExamples include names, icons, logos, strap-lines, design of anything tangible, even design of the environment your customers walk into, direct mail, event sponsorship, packaging, colour schemes and so on.

Intangible messages– These are the emotions and values conveyed by the brand or the brand’s ethos.

To be effective, the messages should be fulfil the following criteria of the 4 ‘C’ ’s

 Clarity – They should be clear, easy to understand and meaningful to your customers.

Congruence – They should be in Harmony with the reality of the product.

Consistency – Customers must be able to depend on your brand to deliver the same experience every time. Because your customers experience your values through your brand, the only way they’ll truly become loyal to you is through your dedication and consistency.

Constancy – They should be communicated to the target market regularly.

Remember the essence of a brand lies not simply in the messages given out, but in the way those messages are PERCEIVED by others.

The strength of any brand is in the relationship, the more business you’ll do, and the more likely it is that customers will refer you to their friends and associates.

If you are an established business go and ask current employees, ex-employees, current customers, past customers, business suppliers etc Anyone that comes into contact with your company. Example questions:

What do you like about the company?

What don’t you like about the company?

What sets us apart from the competition?

What do you think the company’s main message is to its customers?

Three words that best describe the company?

You might not like some of the answers, you have to be prepared for that. But this is an empowering process, really understanding your business and what you communicate gives you the power to create a clear, concise message which your staff and customers buy into!

Please help me in 2013 and answer the following question in the comments below, I will be collecting your answers!
What phrases or quotes have you heard that has had an impact in your life?
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How To Survive As A Business Networking Newbie!

If you’re just starting out in business, you’ve probably already been told by a number of people that Business Networking is an essential activity to get involved in. It’s a great piece of advice and, even though it might fill you with absolute dread, it will provide a huge number of business contacts. Whilst not all of these will be directly relevant to you and your own business, referrals to third parties happen all the time and this really is the whole point to getting involved in Business Networking.

One of things I knew I had to face up to when starting out on my own was the fact that I’d have to put myself out and about on the Business Networking circuit. I can tell you that, out of all the hurdles associated with setting up a new business, the Networking hurdle was my most feared. I’m not a natural Sales Person but I am a natural talker – and the more events I’ve attended, the more I’ve realised that being able to talk is the only skill you need. Oh yes, and a stack of business cards!business networking

In order to survive as a Business Networking Newbie, I’d recommend the following tips:

SMILE !!
Even if you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, wear a smile. It will attract other people towards you and instantly boost your confidence.

Approach other people standing on their own at Business Networking Events.

Remember – you’re not the only one feeling awkward. Plenty of others are more than likely to be as nervous as you are.

Extend a firm handshake.

It gives the impression that you’re confident and comfortable in the situation and you definitely mean business.

Always try and ask about your new contact first.

This will demonstrate that you’re not a selfish Networker because you’re showing that you’re more interested in the other person than in talking about yourself. Essential Networking Etiquette!

Be a good listener.

Even if you’re talking to someone whose business is of no direct relevance to your own, appreciate that you’re all there for the same reason. Who knows – you might know someone….. who knows someone ….. who needs their details.

Keep your own business statement brief.

Accompany your verbal statement with your business card and direct people to your website for more detailed information. Keeping it brief at the beginning enables others to ask specific questions which you can then answer in as much depth as is required.

Be polite and honest.

You will make a good impression with many new contacts because they remember your friendly personality and honesty first and foremost.

Acknowledge the contacts you’ve made.

Always follow a Networking event by sending a brief two-line email to every contact you’ve made along the following lines: “nice to meet you, added your details to my database, hope to see you at future events”. Nothing more is needed – unless, of course, potential business was discussed at the event prompting a more detailed message or even a phone call.

So, all in all, it doesn’t have to be that scary. By implementing some – if not all – of the above tips, you can actually look forward to attending future Networking events free from all those unnecessary anxieties.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go on, give it a go

Related Post: Business Networking and Building Relationships.

Business Networking Groups:

There are many Business Networking groups, you have to find a network that suits you and your business, here is a small list to get you started.

http://www.4networking.biz/  – I run the Nantwich Group of 4Networking

http://www.bni.eu/uk/ – BNI

http://www.bforb.com/ Business for Breakfast

http://www.networkshe.co.uk/ Network She – women networking

http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/ Chambers of Commerce

http://www.networkcheshire.co.uk/ – Network Cheshire

http://www.businessbiscotti.co.uk/ Biscotti Networking

www.thefreshnetwork.co.uk The Fresh Network

Please help me in 2013 and answer the following question in the comments below, I will be collecting your answers!
What phrases or quotes have you heard that has had an impact in your life?

How to master time management. Are you a master of your time?

Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. Wikipedia

One of my skills is  Time Management,  I hear over and over again “Susie you’re so could a time management, how do you fit it all in?” – I am good at time management but unlike other skills it is something we can all achieve and get better at if we recognise that our time management could be a problem in the first place!

Mark yourself out of 1-10 with the following (10 being outstanding, 1 not good)

Garden clock, get better at time management

How do you feel you manage Time in General?

How effective are you at Meeting Deadlines?

How easily are you distracted from Daily Tasks?

A low score will indicate that you can manage your time more effectively!!

Now ask yourself this question – what’s worth more time or money?

“There is an oft-quoted saying that “time is money.” You can interpret this to mean that time is a valuable currency. In fact, each day another 24 hours is deposited into each of our “bank accounts.” We get a choice about how to spend these hours. We decide how much we spend right away, how much gets invested for the future, and how much we give away. The worst choice is to waste these hours by letting them slip away.  ”

Tina Seelighttp://stvp.stanford.edu/blog/?p=1979

We can always earn more money but we can’t earn more time, we all get the same 24 hours; it’s the choices we make each day that determine how well we use our time!

Organisation can be learnt ! If you don’t start organising your time, then time will almost definitely manage you and your life!

To improve your time management you must accept that some change is going to have to happen, remember:

” If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

Henry Ford (1863-1947)

6 Steps to executing any change in your Life

  • Awareness – becoming conscious of the pattern or issue
  • acknowledgement – admitting that you need to release the pattern
  • Voice – actively selecting to release the pattern
  • Strategy – creating a realistic plan
  • Commitment – taking action, aided by external accountability
  • Celebration –  rewarding yourself for succeeding

As I said above the first step to implementing any change is an awareness of the problem, acknowledge that this is an area you would like to improve and become aware of your ‘voice’ your ‘self-talk’. What are you telling yourself every day? Physiology is the Foundation to all effective change.

We now have to build the words in our head to master our communication.

Affirmations…

Examples:-

“I am a Master at Managing my Time”

“Work flows effectively and easily every day”

The next step is developing a strategy or plan and sticking it to it!

Prioritising Work

All activities fall into one of these categories:

  1. Important  and urgent
  2. Important  but not urgent
  3. Not important but urgent
  4. Not important and not urgent

Time Rituals

The power of Chunking– what are Musts to do today, what could be done today- what could be done tomorrow?- A brain  dump – 1st 5/10mins

Know your Disciplines– what’s the goals for today, this week, this month – Highlight 3 things that are important to you

Outcomes v Task– Get clear on what’s the outcome?

Rewardsand Consequences– we love to ‘beat ourselves up, but what do we achieve – effective or not?

Default Diary – Block out set times that are non-negotiable… Specific meetings/client calls time

Value of an Hour- What’s the actual time spent? reflection –  what was my biggest ‘win ‘to day?

Productivity – increases when we focus on results not hours

Reduce Workplace clutter- desk/ organisation of paperwork, – we feel better when we do not see ‘lots’ to do.

It is far more efficient to fully focus for 90-120 minutes, take a true break, and then fully focus on the next activity!

 

Please help me in 2013 and answer the following question in the comments below, I will be collecting your answers!
What phrases or quotes have you heard that has had an impact in your life?

What will be your Legacy? Take the rocking chair test!

I often say to my clients let’s do the rocking chair test! Imagine your 90 years old, sat in your rocking chair, with your slippers and you look back over your life. You think of all the things that have happened to you, all the people you have connected to and met, the friends you have made along the journey of life – would you do anything differently? What is your legacy?

Take the time now to do the rocking chair test!Rocking chair test

We want to make a better world for ourselves, family and friends. Therefore we have to take responsibility for how we are going to live our life. To know what counts and what does not. You have to know what you are dedicating your life to – it makes the rest easier.

As we go through life, we want to navigate ourselves towards new horizons; we want to embrace our transformation of who we are becoming, embody our destiny and to leave a long-term legacy. We want to revolutionise our relationships and when everything we say, think, feel, want and do is directed towards a very powerful end. Imagine feeling that you are the master of your own experience – totally controlling every moment of your life!

How do you feel in your heart of hearts what history is going to say about you after you are gone?

SAY OUT LOUD OR WRITE DOWN!

We live in a time of discovery, where we are finding the human mind has far more capacity and ability than we ever imagined.

The concept of defining your legacy is something I am passionate about. I want you to know you have a choice . Each of us possess the will to create our own legacy. It’s all about a choice. Create the power to live the life of your choosing.

Loving people is part of the plan of life. When you make loving others the story of your life, there never is a final chapter – because the legacy goes on and on….

My final thought….

Seasons come and go. Every moment that you live it – enjoy it! Relish each day as if there would never be another, and when you get the chance to ‘sit it out or dance’ with life….I hope you dance!!

*Extract from my book  Satnav for the Soul