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The success of your brand relies on your ability to effectively connect with your target market.

One of the greatest influences on the growth of a business is something that is often underrated, ignored or totally misunderstood and, this might shock you, it’s called business communication.

It determines your business link to the critical elements in what ultimately determines your business success. It educates, informs, persuades and even inspires your customers, your staff, your suppliers and the key influentials who could make or break your business.

To prove the point, consider the observations of Malcolm Gladwell in the best-selling book, The Tipping Point. He talked about ‘social epidemics’ which were driven by key people whom he labelled ‘influentials’. These people are especially well connected and have a big impact on who is in, or out, in a social, political and business sense.

An entrepreneur who became the darling of the media, as Poppy King did in her early days owed her rise to prominence, not just on her unique product and sales, but on who proclaimed her a true success story.

Like a fast-spreading virus, other key people and media outlets would have carried and encouraged the Poppy King phenomenon. It would have delivered free publicity, opened customers’ doors and attracted workers who wanted to get involved in a business on the rise.

In short, it was building her brand.

The calibre of business communication rests on how well the words, music and images associated with your brand are adequately linked to the customer segmentation you are chasing.

Adapt to the demographics

Brand managers need to be experts on communication. A recent issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) looked at what they called ‘Harry Potter Marketing’. This refers to how a business, in the way the fictional Harry Potter grows old with his readers, can age with its customers.

The HBR cites a product called Firmness that targets 45 to 55-year-olds, but the problem was that over-55s were sticking with the product. The marketing response is to create related products for older customers and to encourage them to migrate to the new and more mature brand. The same tactic can be seen in the creation of L’oreal’s Age Perfect range.

This underlines the importance of communication and not only does it have to be delivered with subtlety and expertise, it must be delivered effectively.

Sydney-based marketing expert and business speaker Martin Grunstein insists business owners muck up their marketing communication by not giving enough strategic information about the brand that will drive a customer to buy.

“Too often business owners put their name and phone number in big print thinking that this will drive customers to their business,” he says. “The first thing you have to lead with in marketing communications has to be why customers should buy from you.

“If you nail that effectively, then potential customers will break a neck to find the name of your business and your phone number.”

In short, it’s reinforcing your brand message.

Get the word out

What is it about your brand that makes customers want to buy from you? What is your critical marketing message and how is this being communicated in every element of your business – your products and your website? Are your staff trained to understand your message or are they working in your business without understanding your brand and adopting one of their own? Or worse still, not even caring about your brand?

Effective business communication has a critical role in how a leader of a business connects with staff. Jim Collins in his book <i>Good to Great<i> analyses the characteristics of great CEOs and found it was not strategy first but ‘getting the right people on the bus’.

The great companies he put the spotlight on created a disciplined culture of disciplined people, thinking in a disciplined way and, taking this disciplined action with great entrepreneurship ethics, resulted in great performance. A clear expression of goals and how they will be achieved is a crucial task of any business leader and the mode of communication selected to use in your business will ultimately determine whether you will have alignment from your staff or not.

When all areas of your business are aligned, your brand message is not only attractive to customers, it’s addictive.

Brand power

The most successful businesses in this country, such as Paul Cave’s BridgeClimb has grown not only out of a great idea, but also on an unwavering commitment to search for customer feedback.

Cave says he is really disappointed when he is not given feedback on his business, though I suspect it is tongue-in-cheek, because he believes he is being robbed of reforms he could make to create an even better brand.

Climbing the Harbour Bridge is one of the most sought-after desires for a UK tourist in the entire world! That’s effectively a love affair from afar.

Apart from the appeal of the challenge, Cave’s business has benefited from fantastic word-of-mouth advertising from those who have had a real love experience with the business.

Like love in real life, you are going to have to give ‘a whole lotta love’ to get it back from customers and to make your brand one that people tell others about.

Published on: Thursday, July 02, 2009

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