What's the importance of a business' personality? That might seem like an odd question; isn't your business a thing, not a person? Sure, but creating associations to your company is a large part of branding, a process not to be ignored. I referenced personification this week in a post about getting consumer attention. Maybe for some, it's easier to regard your business as a person; entrepreneurs are a suitable population to personify. The group has a lot in common with aspiring businesses.
I read an article earlier in the New York Times on attributes of successful entrepreneurs. I thought it would be helpful to apply some of the characteristics to online businesses.
Entrepreneurs may display ambition through 80-plus-hour workweeks. An ambitious business needs to put in extra hours as well, working on online marketing objectives. I made reference to the ambitious notion of working weekends recently. Perhaps you're 'open for business' five days a week; but, if you're online, a place that never sleeps or closes, then it's ambitious to contribute to your marketing campaign each day. What can you do each day to contribute? Online marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.
Ambition does not curtail with success; in fact, the opposite is true in many cases. I remember seeing an interview with Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers years ago; Jerry, who had an impressive career and is often referenced in 'best wide receivers of all time' discussions, admitted how hard he trained on a regular basis to 'maintain his edge' and mentioned how he was haunted by thoughts of other receivers training harder than him. How hard is your brand training?
Creativity is a relative term, but it usually requires some thought and planning. There are many online tools available, facilitating creative opportunities. Consider the Sonic brand's latest move, reintroducing former spokesmen through a crafty social media campaign. A creative entrepreneur finds ways to make progressive motions; a creative business does the same, making creativity an objective. Don't be creative for creativity's sake; analyze your target market, relating to them in a unique way. It could be something different, or a new take on an old success, as the Sonic brand applied.
Entrepreneurs we wind up hearing of may have had to collect their respective bumps and bruises along the way, learning, revising, and trying new approaches. The online marketing process is the same. It's an evolving process as search engines deliver penalties, new sites arise (Are you using Pinterest?), and marketing trends change. A majority of small outfits fail within the first three years; even eventually-successful entrepreneurs had to reinvent themselves several times over. If you're in it to win it (online marketing), then prepare your brand for a long haul. When negatives occur (and they will for any business), is your brand going to deflate or bounce back?
Are you listening to SEOs or your customers? When it comes to online marketing, perhaps it's wise to listen to intuition. After all, each business knows its respective industry well, likely more so than marketers. What notions make the most intuitive sense for your brand? How are your target consumers embracing goods and services? Where is the brand-to-consumer dynamic taking your business? Ensure your separating outside advice from your business' intuition. It's also important to listen to workers; they're 'in the trenches' and can deliver great insight on applicable, future notions.
Take a look at your brand's competition. What separates your business from the rest? Are your services and products starkly contrasted from your competitors? Be honest with yourself. It's likely there aren't huge differences. However, it's difficult to engineer similar brand personalities. Show your brand's personality. I've suggested how brands can showcase personality from blog posts and social media participation. I like how SEOmoz uses blog posts to introduce its workers to its public. The process enforces branding and distinguishes the company from others in its vertical. How is your business personifying itself?