How to… Empower Your Business

Deutsch: Chanel-Logo

don't you want your brand to be this recognizable?

Published in Aquila Style, March 2012

So, you’ve finally launched your dream biz. You have a great product. You’ve chosen a name and a fancy logo, planned your budget and started your promotions. And voila! Customers begin to buy your products or use your services. You feel good about it – but you’re not quite satisfied. Wondering how to get your startup to the next level? Whether you are running an online boutique, a neighbourhood cafe or that little beauty salon around the corner, here are a few tips that will help you empower your business.

Let’s start with your brand.  In a world of parity, your brand can be your greatest asset. Ideally, you’ll want your product to be the Jimmy Choo of high heels or the Birkin of handbags. To achieve that, there are two basic rules that you must go by: be different and constantly deliver on your promise. The idea is simple: The human memory recalls distinctive things more easily, and, as your schoolteacher would likely have told you, repetition helps the mind to remember. A distinctly different, positive impression of your business, repeated over and over, will place you in a top spot in the minds of your customers.

When you think of a luxe evening bag, the Chanel 2.55 springs to mind. It has many ‘X’ factors that make it memorable. What unique features or experiences can you add to your offerings? It doesn’t have to be anything costly. In fact, it doesn’t even need to cost a penny, as long as it’s memorable. A hand-written thank you note with every online order, a polka dot bow tie for your server or fresh ginger tea for your salon’s customers: the sky’s the limit.All the funky bow ties in the world will neither impress your customers nor improve your brand if you serve soggy fries, though. So make sure your business is able to deliver high quality service consistently. Create systems that will help you minimise errors and operate more efficiently. Spanish fashion retailer Zara, for example, has become one of the most successful brands in the world in part because its system allows the company to deliver the latest fashion trends speedily.
In addition to being a strong brand, you’ll need to grow your customer base. More people around the world now spend more and more time interacting on social media, so taking advantage of social media platforms can benefit your customer base exponentially. You just need to spend time on sites that you probably visit already: Facebook and its social media sisters. This time, however, focus on building your brand. Create conversations around your products and services. Make them entertaining, fun and informative. Share tasteful jokes and inspiring stories. Ask intriguing questions. Host contests and giveaways. If your business is a bakeshop, dish out a few baking tips on your Twitter timeline. Your followers will appreciate it, and guess who they’ll remember the next time they need to order a batch of cupcakes? Finally, don’t forget to have fun. This will give you an extra dose of energy – essential towards running your business well. So, go ahead: put on that smile, open your mind and empower your business with a creative attitude. Perhaps a polka dot bow tie, too.
Afia R Fitriati has created and managed a number of successful businesses (and several failed ones). She lectures on Islamic Marketing at Paramadina Graduate Schools in Jakarta, Indonesia and likes to handwrite her thank-you notes.

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