Business Planning Start-Up Guide
Now that you’ve identified your product or service, evaluated the market’s opportunities and threats, better understand you and your company’s strengths and weaknesses, developed a most-likely customer theory, and understand your “why,” it’s now time to design an image, mood, and interaction plan. It’s now time to “straterigize” your brand.
Advertising is Marketing but Marketing isn’t Advertising
Just a point of clarification: Your brand is part of your overall marketing plan. It will create a feel and target a segment of your chosen industry’s market. Knowing this, will you be an elegant, high-end metro brand or will your brand appeal to rugged outdoor’s enthusiast? Will you be Volkswagen or BMW? Will you’re coffee be Starbucks or Folgers?
Look over your Customer Theory and the SWOT analysis. What did that exercise tell you? Where are your customer’s looking for what you provide? What do they look like?
Let’s adapt the Pareto Principle to your customer: 80-percent of your net revenue will come from 20-percent of your customers. Given this principle, who is your most likely, top 20-percent customer? What do they want? What life style do they live? How old are they? What is their gender? How much do they make? What do they value? Apply what you learned in Phase I to set you brand strategy.
Let’s look at Starbucks, a well known, growing and expanding national and international brand. Starbucks appeal to an upscale crowd, people who are willing to spend $4 to $6 for a fancy cup of coffee/espresso. They value recycling, are more likely professionals than skilled tradesmen. They are executive types or want-a-be executives. Fifty-five percent of them probably vote democratic and 45 percent vote republican. They likely have school age children, thus are anywhere from the upper 20’s to the mid 50’s in age.
The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. Management consultant Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 population of the population.
Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20 percent of the pea pods in his garden contained 80 percent of the peas. In business, the principle plays out, as well. Eighty percent of the sales come from 20 percent of the clients (source: Wikipedia, 27 Jan 2015).
Recommended reading: The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less (Paperback), by Richard Koch ( 1999).
How Would Your Create a Look-A-Like Starbucks?
The store decor would be more modern and very slightly artsy (not Victorian, not Wild West, and not hippy), it would be clean (not run down or cluttered). It would offer paper instead of plastic cups; natural (wood) stir sticks instead of plastic; and it would offer recycling for the plastic items they do sell.
Their products would be “health conscious,” that is, they would not be full of chemicals and preservatives. Your look-a-like would ensure the price point for everything from coffee to coffee makers would be 30 percent or more above the average. Your store would have quiet music and would set an urban mood, but it would not be left to the 20-something barista to decide upon. You’d have small tables to encourage close conversations, like the espresso shops in Italy.
The coffee’s price would be far above a typical cup of Folgers. You’re appealing to the upscale earners. The packaging would be environmentally friendly, and it would be modern, almost-arty elegant (not cheep or bland). Since you value people and social consciousness, you’d provide decent wage with good medical benefits to your staff (even some part-time staff).
I remember reading an article, where the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, was taking about his employees. He said (paraphrasing), You cannot expect our employees to treat the customers well if don’t first treat our employees well. That’s one important quality of Starbucks, which sets their brand apart from all the others.
Design, Style, and Top of Mind
What a Brand Is Not. What It Is.
A brand is not your business cards or letterhead. That is the last thing you should be thinking it is. Don’t go out and buy your business cards until later. Save your money. Your brand should be what the customer expects from you, given your reputation (or the one you are deliberately developing). It is the experience someone feels when they use your product or service. It’s what they say about you.
What is the DMV’s brand (department of motor vehicles)? The first thing that comes to mind is waiting in lines and poor service. Right? Now think of Starbucks’ brand? Most think of nice stores, pretty lobbies, warm coffee, happy baristas taking your order, and chatting with friends. It’s a place that’s okay to hang out in.
Think of your product or service. Now think of the worst service or quality you can think of. In the table below, list 10 of the worst things you can think of (ignore the Good and Best columns, for now).
Here’s how I’d fill it out for Starbucks.
|The Worst, the Good, and the Best – Brand Experience
|1||poor tasting coffee||good taste, warm coffee||wonderful coffee, many flavors, gourmet, hot|
|2||rude barista||pleasant||friendly, engaging|
|3||dirty store||clean but dusty||clean floors and windows, no dust|
|4||loud, head-banger music||quiet country||cool, hip, but okay for 30s to 50s|
|5||rotting smells||nothing offensive||clean, coffee and bakery smells|
|6||dirty restroom, splatters, and standing water||uncluttered, cleaned each evening||cleaned well, 3 or more times per day|
|7||chipped paint, holes in the wall||painted, maintained||pleasant styling, art, well maintained|
|8||unkempt, loud customers, unsafe||safe, kept||pleasant customers, friendly, safe|
|9||poor service||okay service, barista is not rude||prompt, friendly barista, excellent, replace if not happy|
|10||cheep imports||average, national brands||upscale brands, high quality|
The Opposite then the Positive
Now, really think about that worst list. Sometimes things become clear if we think of the opposite experience we want. For example, snow sounds really great for a Christmas morning. But, it isn’t so wonderful if you are stranded and freezing.
Why consider the worst? Clarity. It’s what our customer latch on to, first. Everyone remembers the negative. You don’t want to be remembered for that!
Your action: Consider your products or services. For each worst thing, list one good or average thing. Now list the best experience.
What Do You Want to Be?
Do you want to be the average or the best? Each comes with its issues. Each has a cost associate with it. Remember, not every product or service needs to be the best.
McDonalds has dependable, good tasting food. It’s what we expect. It’s not a high-end dining experience, but it’s a fabulous brand for their target clientele. In fact, it’s a trusted brand.
Now for Your Turn
|The Worst, Good and Best – Your Brand Experience|
What Did You Learn?
Write down what you want your brand to be. Its styling, design, the product, the customer service, the smells, the flavors, the opinion others will have of your store, your product, your service. Your customer’s top of mind. What will you be remembered for?
Who buys your brand? Don’t say “for all your coffee needs” or something like that. Does Starbucks say, “For all your coffee needs”? No, they do not! You will not say that either!
Be specific. Go narrow. Pick a 80 percent target customer, a niche. The 20 percent that will be your best customer. You’ll still get the 80 percent that bring in the 20 percent of revenue. So, don’t say “for all your xyz”!
You might say, “We provide upscale coffee and espresso drinkers a friendly, enjoyable experience. We serve rich tasting coffee for those with defining tastes. We are known for excellent customer service, where our baristas know their coffee, their clients, are friendly, enjoy their job and taking care of our loyal visitors. If you don’t like it, we’ll make make you another drink.”
That’s Your Brand Look Like?
Your art “department” will design the styling to match your brand. Your art department will either be you or 99 Designs, Freelancer, Freelance or a local designer (Google it). Remember, your brand is not your business card design. That’s 1/99th percent of your brand.