There are so many things to do first when you start a new business: set up a bank account, choose your accountant, decide how long you can survive before paying yourself what you think you’re worth, choosing a business name, registering the business as a sole trader or a limited company, telling your friends and family.
You’ll need to decide – who are your clients/customers going to be? How will you price your services? Are you going to be selling fixed cost services, products, subscriptions or memberships – or a combination? And you’ll need to review this periodically.
And then there’s the ‘branding and marketing’, your logo, business cards, website, social media profiles – and the marketing activity you will need to do to raise your profile and to attract clients. These tangible things – plus your service, your unique method, the reason you started the business – make up your business personality.
When people make buying decisions, they do so based not only their head but also their heart. “Does it feel right? Is it going to be a good experience? Is it feeling safe to buy this or risky? Do I feel good about this buying decision?”
A value-based society
We’re not only deciding ‘let’s just go with the cheapest’ because more often than not, cheap is expensive. And I bet most of you didn’t decide to start your own business and only get customers because you’re the cheapest.
Showing personality in your business means people feel more connected to you and more likely to make the emotional decision to buy or invest in your offering.
They are more likely to feel they:
Know you – you’re familiar, even though you’re new
Like you – they feel that you are a ‘good’ business, in line with their values
Trust you – you’ve ticked all their boxes for credibility, track record, and perceived value
Now we’ve discussed the mentality of our great society and you know why having a business personality is what’s needed to connect with your audience, here are 8 things you can do:
Start with Why: Like Simon Sinek says in his awesome TED Talk – you need to identify for yourself why you began this business, to help who in the world fix what problem – and use this at the beginning of your story – wherever you tell it.
Know your audience: Take a bit of time to think about your ideal customer. What are they stressed about? What frustrates them generally in life? And what is the terrible horrible pain and suffering that they are going through until you swoop in to save the day? This exercise is not for the public – it’s for you to understand them. You are building a business to help them have a better experience. This type of empathy humanises your business and will set your intention to go into the world and make it a better place.
Share these findings with your team: If you’re more than one, check in and make sure you’re all going the same way. You could even work together to identify your ideal customers and define your ‘why’! Listen, brainstorm, refine. To thrive in this world, businesses need to be always improving, always reflecting. Everyone in your team needs to have this understanding of what your business is there to do, and who you’re out there helping – this will create the consistency, your customers want to feel they can trust you.
Go for the best: Your branding, design and marketing needs to be unique to you to attract and impress your intended audience. The way you present yourself matters – you want to make a good impression! So, invest in help from professional branding, coding and communication people who have talent and get a full understanding of the ‘why’ and the ‘who’.
Write in the first person: Whether this is on your company website, your email newsletters, your LinkedIn profiles for each of your team – if you write from your own point of view (or “we” if there are a team of you) then you show more of yourself. It will make the reader feel more connected to you. Do this as much as you can.
Team photos and bios: Get a photographer in – who is good at portrait photography – and get them to take great professional pictures of you and, if you’re more than one person, your team. Each person in the business should have a picture and a bio on your website. These pictures can also be used on LinkedIn, presentations and bio sheets.
Show client stories and testimonials: This is often tricky if you are starting out – you may have to offer a special deal to your first few customers in exchange of them giving you some honest feedback. It will help you refine your service and tailor it even better. As time goes on, regularly get your customers to leave reviews and let you know how you’re doing – and use their comments in your marketing. See also: How to supercharge your testimonials
Get your ideal customers to review: Ask a few of your contacts to read through your draft copy, look at your draft website and materials. People appreciate being singled out as a ‘favourite’ or “ideal” client, and it’s a great chance to be entering into a conversation with the exact right type of person who you’d like to work with – and get valuable feedback, insight. With this direct request, you are beginning to build a relationship with someone who, hopefully, will support you going forward!
So, those are eight things I would recommend you do to add personality to your business – to humanise your brand, earn trust and make your intended audience feel they know you, like you and trust you!
Keren Lerner is CEO of Top Left Design