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Your Kind Of People

Blog

Your Kind Of People

17 December, 2021

hilton cambridgeDuring early November I spent a couple of days in Cambridge, working with a client on a project. We’ve become friends over the past four years and we have honest and open conversations about all sorts of stuff. One chat inspired this short pondering about price, as we supped on a £15 G&T each in the hotel bar.

The conversation, along with a second G&T, led to a wider discussion about service alignment for B2B companies, and how flexibility works wonders if you can afford to deliver it (we’d obviously gone through football, the weather, Covid and Brexit by then).

It got me pondering a bit more on the drive home the following day.

Freelancer Freedom

The great thing about being a freelancer is that you have control. When companies employ people like me (a one-person company), they receive a much more intimate service – a service that is flexible enough to align with each individual customers needs.

And, because there’s only one of us, it’s easy to define the things we stand for in our service offering and wrap it up as a brand. Not only do we attract like-minded clients, but we can also say no to people who don’t value what we stand for.

This personal/work life branding happens whether we like it or not, of course; even if we don’t hone it. It’s why some freelancers get to charge twice as much as the next person and why some always seem to attract problem clients. Our vibe hangs off of us like a cheap suit. Or, an expensive one if we are lucky.

SME Branding

Small businesses, on the other hand, have a more complex problem with alignment because they have staff. For any small business to be successful, the people within the business need to (a) understand what the business stands for, and (b) deliver it consistently. Time and time again though, you will find that many companies don’t define this, leaving everyone guessing and pulling in different directions.

To deliver relevant brand alignment as a small business you must get the fundamentals right. You not only need to understand ‘who’ you are and demonstrate that ‘who’ in front of your customers, suppliers, staff and other stakeholders, but you need to communicate it every single day – in words and actions. And, it needs to be authentic. People will soon see through any facade so you will find your place. Or, should I say, it will find you. So, where to start?

‘It was never going to work out, they’re not our kind of people’ – a snobbish phrase I once overheard, but I love it in terms of marketing.

So, do you know who your type of person is? Clients and Staff?

Value

Analyse why the clients you have now – the ones that offer you value – value YOU. After all, you want more of THOSE guys. (It’s not price by the way. If you think it is, that’s a choice YOU’VE made.) What we’re looking for here are the things that make you stand out, not blend in; the reason why good clients would pay a premium.

Focus

You cannot be all things to all people. If you try, you’ll end up pissing someone off and that someone might be the client that matters. It’s about value for you, and value for the client. It’s about differentiation and focus. It’s about offering the right people the right service at the right price.

Keep It Real

If you don’t have great internal communication, leadership capabilities, or the quality of staff to deliver what you’d like, the way you’d like, you will fail. ‘Fake it ’til you make it’ only goes so far, so get your own house in order or rein your aspirations in.

Brand Communication

Once you begin to understand who you are and who you can be it needs to become the DNA of your business. It needs to be shared as a business philosophy – over and over and over again if needs be. If people don’t get it, you’re not communicating it well enough, or, it’s simply not believable.

Fish Where The Fish Are

Go where the people you want to connect with hang out – clients and new staff. Develop a strong voice; talk about things that float their boat; make them feel special; offer them value. Put yourself in a position where people want to be associated with you.

Feedback loops

Find out what people say about you. After all, that’s the bit that counts. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. Ask, listen, adapt.

Summary

As consumers, we align ourselves with brands we think match who we are – it helps us tell ourselves the ongoing story of ‘us’. By driving a certain car, wearing certain clothes, or listening to certain music, we maintain a narrative.

But, in the commercial world, we try so hard to be all things to all people that we dilute what we’re trying to say and who we focus on – there’s not enough for customers to align with because the narrative is not sharp enough.

It doesn’t need to be that way. Yes, there has to be a baseline business offering, but, as we tend to align ourselves with like-minded businesses unconsciously anyway, if ever you find yourself keep ending up with crap suppliers or crap customers, have a word with yourself and adapt. Maybe it’s you. Maybe, there’s another way.

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