Have you ever met with a client and you instantly connected? You just know you will book the event. But then, a week later the client is not responding to your calls and emails. What happened? You were outsold! One of the greatest ways to articulate your competencies, wealth of experience, skills, knowledge, and your overall worth in today's competitive events industry is to create and nurture a brand that helps you stand out in the crowd. If you’re not selling you, then you’re not selling. As aptly put by a management expert Tom Peters, "We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer of a brand called You."
Branding is a means of defining you, your business or company to yourself, your team and people on the outside – the potential clients. Creating an inimitable and powerful brand starts with determining what makes you unique. What are your strengths, goals, passions, core competencies? What makes you different from your peers? It is not just enough to know what makes you unique if you do not target the right people, the efforts are futile. There is a strong need to identify your target audience. This allows you deliver and ‘register’ your company on the minds of the right people. Everything you do contributes to your branding endeavor, either positively or negatively. Even the little things count – dressing, behavior to employees, body language, emails, down to behavior on social media. If you want to be successful, creating and managing a brand isn't just an option, it's a necessity.
Every business has a brand whether you know it or not. Branding is not only for the big companies. It’s not just your logo, your tagline or slogan. They are signatures of your brand. Popular belief is that branding is a communication strategy. It is not. Branding is a business strategy, a way to align every action to guide your business to success. It is a phenomenon that happens in the mind and in the heart, it’s a feeling one gets when they think of a product or company. The easiest way to describe branding is to think about it as a personality. It’s an attitude. How it walks, how it talks, it tells a story about the company. Branding affects people on an emotional level. They need to know, like and trust your business.
In order to brand your company effectively, you must know who you are. First, you will need to lay the foundation and ask yourself these questions:
• What is my core motivation?
• Who are my target clients?
• How does my company affect people on an emotional level?
• What problems am I solving for my market?
• What sets me apart from my competition?
• List out your business's key features and characteristics, your competitive advantages.
After completing the above exercises, then write a one-page mission statement, a company overview. This is not only intended to let your target market know who you are but the ideas, principles, and values that you and your entire company will live by. You need to know what it is that makes you different, special and more compelling than other event professionals in the market. Many caterers, for example, spend much of their time, money and energy promoting their products and services instead of building their brand image. If your main emphasis as, say a baker is on your cakes, then you don't have a brand, you have a commodity. There is need to clearly define your unique marketing position. You need to show value and a clear understanding of why you are different from that other event professional down the street. Branding is not solely what you say, it’s how you act. Remember it is a personality. Let’s take a closer look at your business. In the hospitality industry, your employees are in front, they are at times the company’s voice.
• How does your staff look while they are setting up events? Are they disheveled, or are they in logo set up shirts?
• Do they use proper grammar?
• How do they dress?
• Are they following up with the clients?
• Are they knowledgeable about the company’s services and goals?
• Do they represent your brand?
You must take control of your brand. If you don’t manage your brand the market will do it for you. In order to establish brand awareness, branding needs to be used consistently and frequently in everything you produce.