Every ambitious business needs to invest in branding. Huge corporations with established images must fight to protect them, and unknown startups need to make themselves memorable or they’ll never grow. That certainly goes for a home business. You can do all the preparation, present a compelling value proposition, run some effective marketing campaigns, and make some sales, but still find yourself stuck in the rut of relentless proactivity.
If you need to battle for every conversion you achieve, you’ll never have the time, energy or resources to improve your operation or do any of the other things needed to turn a homespun business into a fully-fledged company. At a minimum, you need customer retention, and that means having a memorable brand identity. Ideally, you need to impress to the extent that you earn a steady stream of customer referrals via word-of-mouth mentions.
But what goes into a good brand at this point? Well, one of the key elements is promoting how you operate. In this post, I’m going to set out some essential tips for how home businesses can use their practices to bolster their brands. Let’s go
Create high-end guides on relevant topics
Branding these days is heavily determined by content marketing. Companies can define themselves very creatively with minimal effort, but the proof of their claims is in the content they produce, and plenty of businesses that claim to possess expertise never actually demonstrate it. When you’re building up a home business, you need to start showing people that the lack of experience doesn’t mean a lack of expertise — and creating high-end guides is ideal for this.
The long-term goal for a home business owner with great aspirations should be to build a brand reputation for providing valuable guidance in relevant areas. It won’t always drive business directly, but the more often the company is talked about in associated scenarios, the more likely people will be to seek it out when they need whatever it has to offer.
Look at companies like Shopify and HubSpot for inspiration. The former has guides on all manner of topics associated with eCommerce, and some — such as its dropshipping guide — use the topic cluster model driven by the latter. Having a pillar page for a given topic and using it to link out to more niche pieces is a fantastic way to demonstrate authority and punch above your weight in the SERPs: read HubSpot’s guide to it here.
Explain their mistakes and what they’ve learned
Seeing businesses make mistakes doesn’t drive people away from them unless they clearly don’t acknowledge them or learn from them. If you place your mistakes into context and show that you care about improving your operation, your audience will likely be more interested in supporting you. Too many people are too prideful to admit the truth.
The average home business owner today will surely have an interesting story to tell about how the business was formed and what their intent was. Maybe they lost their job and went through numerous terrible ideas before they found something workable. Maybe they ran another business before and saw it fail.
By talking about these things through blog posts and “About Us” pages, home business owners can give regular people reasons to root for them. Who doesn’t instinctively want to support an underdog? Taking the first opportunity to add transparency to a brand’s identity is also wise.
Focus on their visions for the future
Everything about a business should reflect what it ultimately hopes to achieve. Profit is far from the only thing to care about, of course. Perhaps one of the goals of a home business is to eventually build a company that really cares about its employees and will always seek to further their happiness through building a supportive community. If so, that business should use that vision of the future in its branding.
It can easily be worked into a mission statement: “Our main goal is to provide steady and rewarding employment for great people.” Businesses that already have employees can talk about what they’re already doing to help them, and those that are still solo operations can concentrate on growing to the point of being able to afford hires.
After laying down that marker, the much trickier part is living up to it. Once you’ve told everyone that your business has such a selfless goal, doing anything that undermines that claim will engender audience antipathy. Make the commitment, then take it absolutely seriously.
Present clear codes of corporate ethics
Pursuing a long-term goal is great, but consumers now want more reassurance about how the companies they support operate on a daily basis. Ethical consumerism is on the rise: more and more people want to know that brands are using sustainable goods and practices, paying fair wages, and supporting awareness of environmental issues.
By setting their stall from the outset, a home business owner can ensure that everyone knows they’re serious about corporate ethics (the alternative is grudgingly defining one down the line after refusing to be left out). The promises within can then be used directly for branding: to prompt an interview with a relevant organization, for instance, or compare the brand against one of its major competitors.
If you’re running a home business, then what you offer — your products and/or services — certainly matters, but how you work matters just as much at this point. Use these suggestions to make your practices part of your branding strategy, and make it abundantly clear what kind of business you’re running.