When starting out a new company, it’s important that you establish the purpose of the business in the customer’s mind. Surely the purpose is to make money and no one will argue with that. But what does your customer think? Do they understand what your business is trying to do for them? Not only does your brand tell your customer what you do, it also helps communicate direction and focus for your efforts.
When I began creating my business plan for the company, I added a section for the brand. This section wasn’t heavily detailed but it was critical for providing some initial direction and focus. It begins with a simple identification of what we are trying to do. When it comes to companies, here are a few reasons they exist:
- A better way to do it. We know people (and companies) are creatures of habit. Once a process is put in place, it stays that way until it fails. This leaves opportunity to create something better, especially as technology is developed. Most often, a better way usually reduces operating costs or provides some other unique benefits to the company.
My potential customers: There is a process in place for the service I provide. My customers either don’t do it or do it poorly. My service will replace the customer’s need to use their inefficient process with additional benefits that reduce cost.
- Something completely novel. In this case, a company provides a product or service that didn’t exist.
My potential customers: Since a process already exists, I’m not really creating something new to the market but I am creating a new solution for the customer that has financial benefits.
- A solution to a problem. Your business should always be solving a problem or filling a need.
My potential customers: They don’t know they have a problem, which could be challenging for me. I’ll need to educate them first and then sell them on the benefits of the service. This will need a strategy all by itself.
While there are other business purposes, these three represent the majority of my purpose. Some companies will use “transparency” as a purpose. However, I consider that to just be a part of business. I know there are proprietary things in the business but the way I conduct my business should be very clear.
With my purpose identified, I can use this information to identify my target customer. I know they may or may not already do the service I’m offering. I also know, through research, that they are not very good at it. I have also found that many of these customers have financial problems, which makes the benefits of my service all the more desirable. The key factors that define my customer:
- Do perform the service I offer but aren’t doing it efficiently
- Do not perform the services I offer
- May be unaware of the problem
- May have financial issues
- May desire to create change in their current processes
Now that I have some idea of my customer, I can begin a little research by contacting potential customers by asking probing questions that can clarify my above assumptions. After gathering a little information, I can prepare marketing information that speaks directly to this customer.
While this isn’t a complete development of a brand, it does provide considerable direction for me while defining the purpose of my company to the customer.
Disclaimer: These posts are general ramblings from me concerning my own startup experience.