Consumers get what they want quickly, cheaply and conveniently from large companies. Quick, cheap and convenient will never go out of style but consumers are increasingly starting to look for something more meaningful as well: a connection. If a customer really relates with your brand message and values, they’re not only more likely to buy, they’ll probably be happy to pay a higher price, too.
A really personal, human connection is the secret weapon for any small team, made up of real people with real passion. The only catch is that you do have to put in some time and soul-searching to really distill out your core values; you can’t build a connection on something you’re only vaguely into.
To that end, as a team or individual, you need to come up with a creative mission statement. Take the time to really think about why you do what you do. Enjoyment will probably only be a small part of it.
Here are a few key questions to consider:
- Am I supporting a cause?
Is there a problem with the world that you are trying to fix, large or small? Maybe you want to support ethical labor or encourage a greater focus on community. Do you donate a portion of sales to a charity?
- Does my product or service express any particular values?
This is a key differentiator and a great place for a small business to outshine a large corporation. You can really focus in on values such as only using the highest quality materials, or sourcing locally produced goods. Are your products entirely handmade or do you hunt down rare and difficult-to-find items from around the world? Do you provide outstanding customer service or personalization and customization options?
- What is it about myself that I express through my product or service?
Your personality and passions can really shine through in a small team. Are you an artist expressing frustration at the world? Does your deep need to always be creating lead you to make all your own products by hand? Maybe you’re a chef expressing a love of community through food, or a wedding planner who gets so much joy from seeing happy couples in love.
It’s important to make sure that all the answers to the questions stem from genuine beliefs and values. If you start supporting a cause just because you think your customers support that cause, it will come across as fake and it won’t work.
Only once you get these things clear in your own mind (and this is especially important if you have a team) you can begin to communicate them clearly with the rest of the world.
Once you know what sets you apart from everyone else you can begin making sure every interaction you have with the world outside your business is consistent with your creative mission statement. As you begin to share this consistent message on different channels in different ways, it will begin to resonate with the people who share your values. These people will feel a strong connection to you and your company and they will become your most loyal, lifetime customers and brand advocates for you.