According to finance funding company FinFind, as many as eighty-six percent of start-ups fail in the first year. With advances in technology that number will increase. So, how do you future-proof your budding business? Read on.
1. Stay Relevant
How do you find a market niche, and how do you maintain it? The first step is a quality product that can adequately compete with similar products in the market. The second, is making sure that you have a strong differentiator that sets your product apart. While many businesses focus on tangible differentiators these have a relatively short time span as technology and the digital age narrow the gap between products. Finding a niche in consumers’ minds is about tapping into the reasons behind their purchasing decisions and aligning to those affinities.
Your brand equity will come down to the quality of your product (or service) and to the intangible elements that consumers affiliate with your brand.
You need to consider the type of customer you are looking for and align the situations in which your brand is used to customers interests. It is important to decide on the kind of personality you want your brand to have - do you want to be the older uncle who gives great advice or the buddy you can go out and have a drink with after work? Without losing sight of their core strengths, the strongest brands stay ahead of the curve in the product arena and tweak their intangibles to keep up with changes in the market.
2. Be Consistent
Having a unique brand identity and finding a market niche is what builds a lasting business. The brands that stay in the race are those that stay consistent.
Brand consistency comes down to striking the right balance between continuity and change. The brand’s image should not get muddled or lost in marketing efforts “that confuse customers by sending conflicting messages.” One of the mistakes brands often make is drastically changing their affinities as the market changes. With consumers more discerning than ever, they will be hyper-aware of the disingenuity and will draw away from your brand.
Read more about brand authenticity here: www.forbes.com
If consumers know that they can count on your brand to stand for specific values, and you continue to uphold them through your messaging, products and brand presence, they will begin to see you as a brand they can trust. That is how you win lasting consumer loyalty.
3. Pick a pricing strategy
The price on your product will naturally change as the market does. What is important is what that price means in relation to other products in your industry and to how you want your brand to be positioned. You also need to look at your target consumer and their willingness to pay for your product at the selected price point, and how this relates to the hard cost of creating your product. Once this is completed, the core question centres around the kind of product you want to take to market. Do you want to create a luxury product, where the value is more in the intangibles than the product itself, or is your product geared more towards a mass market?
Whatever your decision is on product value, you need to start with a pricing strategy that speaks to that end goal.
4. Focus on digital
There are different ways to market your brand to consumers, some are simply more effective than others. In a digitally hyper centric world, a focus on technology and digital solutions is critical to building a strong business.
Becoming digitally minded is about more than just creating a business Twitter account that is updated whenever you have the time. Technology needs to be at the core of what your business does. This means building your business for the digital age. Are you using the best software possible and is it compatible with how your business will evolve? If you are conducting a marketing campaign for an in store special, is it built for Twitter and Facebook? Do you know the dimensions for your images? How much spend will you allocate to the social media marketing in relation to your traditional marketing? Do you have a strategy that will allow your business to transfer online as customers move away from bricks and mortar stores?
There are a thousand approaches to consider when building a digital business, have you considered how to develop a digital strategy that best works for your business and products?
5. Start looking to the next target market
Most business strategies focus on attracting and retaining a specific target market. This is important, but in the next five to fifty years your target market will have moved on. If you sell sportswear you should already be looking at attracting sports players in high school teams so that when they are finally able to afford your products, you are already their brand of choice. The idea being to create the longevity of brand affinity as opposed to simple product preference, and you will have built for scale.
Building your business for the future, is about effective planning in the present.
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