break even analysis

How’s your brand experience?

A small business’ brand experience is strategically developed to encourage customers to think of you, and persuade people to interact with your brand. However, you want this experience to be a good one, right?

How to deliver the best brand experience

Ask yourself these seven questions to make sure your small business is giving your customers the best brand experience.

  1. What promise are you making to your customers?
  2. Are you working hard to meet the needs and desires of customers?
  3. How are you increasing customer satisfaction?
  4. Is your customer’s experience consistently positive?
  5. Do you keep up with customers’ needs and wants, as well as meet new and emerging ones?
  6. What kind of experience do you want your customers to have with your business?
  7. If you were your own customer, how would you expect to be treated?
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What are brand pillars?

Most of us can list off a number of brand names off the top of our head, whether they’re world-famous companies or the local coffee chain in your city. Brands are everywhere, within every industry. A brand represents the emotional and logical associations that you make with a certain company, product or service. The interesting thing about branding is that it reflects internal and personal interpretations, which may differ between people and cultures.

We should mention here that branding doesn’t only mean visual things like a logo or company colours. Those things are part of branding, but there’s more that goes into it. Creating brand pillars is one way to design a brand for your small business that customers will react to positively.

What are brand pillars?

Brand pillars are the most important values and characteristics of your small business that you want to communicate to your audience. Your small business can have as many brand pillars as you like, but you should focus on the ones most important to your business’ image and values – for example, “Affordability” may be more important to your business than “Community Involvement.” But don’t worry – deciding not to include “Community Involvement” doesn’t mean you don’t care about the community your small business operates in! It just means that it’s less critical to your image than other brand pillars.

When planning your small business’ marketing strategy, identify your brand pillars very early in the process, and empower all your employees to use them to guide their customer interactions. You don’t have to expressly outline your brand pillars word-for-word in your marketing, but let them shine through in every part of your business. If one of your brand pillars is “Relaxed,” for example, you might choose minimalist packaging, or use casual and conversational language in all your communication.

Relying on your brand pillars will help you build consistency in your brand without having to scramble or reinvent the wheel every time. Take the time to narrow down the most important characteristics that’ll set your small business apart in the mind of your customer.

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3 tips to help your business stand out

Many Canadian entrepreneurs tell us that standing out from their competitors is one of their main concerns. Here are 3 tips to help your small business stand out from the competition.

1) Get specific with your niche

Understanding your business’ overall industry is important, since it’s home to many factors that can influence your business decisions. However, “niching down” even further is a great way to help your business find its differentiating characteristics. For example, your flower shop may be one of dozens of flower shops in your city. But what if customers knew that you were the only florist in town to source its flowers and plants from local growers? This is an immediate differentiating factor that’ll help you stand out from the competition.

2) Ask your existing customers for feedback

Your happy and loyal customers return to your business because they know and trust you. Asking them for their feedback could be a great way to help you stand out from the competition. The way you do this depends on your customer base. It could be an informal chat with your regulars, or a more traditional customer feedback survey – try a modified version of our quick eight-part customer survey. You may be surprised at the specific things your customers identify as your differentiating factors.

3) Consider pivoting

A core component of the lean start-up methodology, pivoting is a useful way to iterate quickly based on customer feedback. If your customers identify a different platform, new technology, a new product feature, or something else, that can help you stand out in a crowded market, do some research to see if it could help you stand out from the rest.

Want to learn more about things like identifying your industry, picking a niche, customer satisfaction, and lean start-up? Check out our industry-leading small business training video program for Canadians.

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How to market to Gen Z consumers effectively

With the oldest members of Generation Z being born in the mid-late nineties, they’re a generation every business should pay attention to – even if you’re a Gen Z entrepreneur yourself! According to Statistics Canada, Gen Z has overtaken Gen X in terms of generational size.

As the younger members grow out of teenagehood and start getting jobs and money of their own, Gen Z will make up a large proportion of potential customers. As digital natives, they have their own preferences and habits that are worth understanding.

So, how do you market to Gen Z consumers effectively?

Email marketing program Campaign Monitor recently released a Gen Z Consumer Trends Index Report. It’s focused on American members of the generation, but there are similarities that Canadian business owners should know. For example:

  • More than half of Gen Z consumers made an in-app, mobile purchase in the past year
  • 84% of Gen Z consumers prefer authenticity and businesses that understand their specific needs
  • 70% of Gen Z takes data privacy very seriously
  • Interestingly, 74% of Gen Z are willing to share surface-level information about themselves (such as their hobbies) for better service
  • Just over half of Gen Z consumers participate in loyalty programs

To us, this data suggests Gen Z consumers respond best to marketing that feels tailored to them, making an authentic connection rather than making them feel like just a number. Help them feel like part of a rewarding community that deserves their loyalty. And, of course, mobile-friendly marketing options should be high on the priority list!

Check out the report here – how can you tweak your business’ marketing to engage the growing Generation Z demographic?

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