If you don’t know, your customers surely don’t. More importantly, if you don’t know, you won’t be able to tell your customers why they should choose you over your competitors. Answering this simple question is critical to forming a purpose statement and creating your marketing strategy.
What was your purpose in starting your business?
Undoubtedly when you decided to start your business you had an inspiration. Was it to provide a service or product better, faster or cheaper than what was currently available? Was it to fill a gap in the marketplace? Perhaps you were inspired to run a business that people enjoyed working for or that maintained environmentally and socially responsible ethical standards or that surpassed existing companies in providing superior customer service. Whatever your mission, find it and then write it down.
The Power of Why
Experience shows that companies with a clear and ever-present purpose statement surpass their competition and last in the marketplace. Purpose (or Why) statements define and preserve and strengthen a company’s unique competitive advantages. Additionally, companies who are clear about who they are and what they do are less likely to make irrational decisions in response to competition and fluctuations in the marketplace. However, that does not mean your purpose statement should be inflexible. A good purpose statement can lead a company for 10 to 20 years if time and effort were spent in creating it. However, re-evaluating your why from time to time to see if it is still relevant, significant and appropriate is advised.
You want to create a statement that you and your team can look to every day and ask “Am I fulfilling the company’s mission?” For example, one statement could be “to be the leading game software developer for teens”. A more actionable purpose statement would be “Surpass XYZ games developer in sales, customer experience and speed to market”. The second purpose statement has clear goals and direction, while the more abstract version would be more appropriate for a vision statement than a purpose statement. The second statement clearly supports the vision statement.
Include a Call to Action
You can distinguish your purpose statement by including a call to action. This is missing in most company purpose statements and has several defining and distinguishing characteristics:
Think back to this statement: “Surpass XYZ games developer in sales, customer experience and speed to market”, if you run this statement through the above four qualifications, you will get a yes every time.
Creating a Purpose Statement that Fits Your Business
When creating your purpose statement, consider these aspects of your business:
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You may have the greatest product ever but if you don’t tell the world, it will sit on the shelves collecting dust until you finally have to close your business. Remember, you know what is great about your business because you created it. The rest of the world is not thinking about you and what you have to offer. So you have to tell them and you have to tell them in a way that makes them want what you have to offer.
Many small businesses shy away from promotions thinking they can’t compete with the advertising, public relations and promotions budgets of their large competitors. But good promotions do not have to be expensive. And if you stay focused and create a clear plan, they don’t have to be time-consuming either.
First develop a plan. This should be included in your business plan. Here are the steps to developing a strong promotional plan:
Consider what kind of customer you want to do business with and to whom your product or service is most likely to appeal. Take into account demographic (i.e. age, gender, location, marital status), lifestyle (i.e. athletes, club goers, outdoor enthusiasts) and psychographics (i.e. personality traits and emotions that affect buying decisions) information.
Make Them Want What You Have to Offer
Distinguish your product or service from all the rest. This has to be meaningful and accurate, otherwise you will lose credibility with your consumers. First you will need to know what features, benefits and brand attributes your target buyers consider when making a purchase. For example, if you are a local nursery, your target buyers might take into account return policies on plants that don’t survive, quality of plants in store and availability of informed people who can assist them with plant choices and directions for caring for the plants.
Create a strategy and make it clear
Write down who your target buyers are, what your competitive environment is and what your meaningful differences are. This is called your positioning strategy statement. You must develop a consistent message and look and feel in all of your promotional campaigns.
Think about the personality of your business in relationship to your target buyers. Is it a young, hip, friendly, casual environment? Or is it a more reserved, traditional and slightly more conservative environment? These characteristics will inform the look, feel and tone of your business, as well as promotions.
This can be a challenge but doesn’t have to be. Think about your business value proposition (BVP). If you have clearly identified the unique features and benefits of your product/service that truly matter to your target buyers, you will be well on your way. Take this information and brainstorm potential slogans, keywords in all marketing messages and visual images that correspond to your BVP.
Consider your budget
When promoting your products, services and business there may never seem to be enough money. However, not all promotion costs money. Creating a mix between word-of-mouth, customer referral programs, public relations and advertising will save you a lot of money. Imagination and relationship building are the keys.