Are you secretly a reluctant communicator? Does it feel like more trouble than it’s worth? Is it just an admin task that you don’t like and don’t really understand?
Don’t worry – these are not trick questions, and if you raised your hand to say yes to any or all of them, I promise you are far from being alone. (It also means that you being here, reading this blog, makes perfect sense!)
You know you need to publicise your business, build business relationships, and perhaps motivate staff and partners. You know that content is a thing, and that you need to prioritise an ever-growing raft of platforms. Your business plan talks about advertising, marketing, networking, audience insights, measurement…but they’re overwhelming.
PUTTING IT OFF UNTIL IT’S TOO BAD TO IGNORE?
Communicating your business, and managing the people and relationships around you, is often one of those things you know you have to do but don’t really want to do. For some, it’s on the same gloomy list as keeping financial records, filling in tax returns, setting up filing systems, and (this would be me) getting to grips with technology.
You know the list I mean – the one you put off doing until the consequences of not doing it become too awful to ignore. Except that nothing too bad can happen if you don’t bother communicating your business, right?
No, no, no. And to be absolutely sure we’re clear – no.
Good communication is vital, and great communication is the best thing you’ll ever do to grow your business.
WORK ON YOUR BUSINESS, NOT JUST IN IT
Let’s face it, you went into business to do something you love and are good at. You have a product to make, a service to provide. And whether you make beautiful teapots or fix sore backs, import goods or coach people, you probably want to spend all your time working IN your business, rather than working ON it. You want to use your talents and serve your customers.
Quite right too. It’s your business. It’s your baby. It needs you to keep it alive. But it also needs you to help it grow. It needs you to protect it from harm. It needs you to create the support that will help it mature. It needs you to build and present a clear and consistent brand. Your business needs you to say the right things, and look and sound like you mean them.
Communication weaves it way through and around every part of your business. Potential customers need to really understand what you’re offering, if they are to even consider buying it. Potential clients need to feel what it will be like to work with you. You need to be able to negotiate well, to get the business results you need.
FROM SOLOPRENEUR TO CHIEF EXECUTIVE
And as you build your business – shifting from solopreneur to chief executive – great communication with your growing team will be the huge factor in creating really productive, high-performance teams.
Think about the various people or audiences who have an impact on your business. Customers, investors, creditors, suppliers, influencers, affiliates, employees…and probably many more.
They all need to know what you’re about: what you do, how you can help them, what you need from them (and feel good about providing it), how to work with you and how to buy from you. They need to feel you are interested in them, that you are listening to them, that you understand them – and that you are focused on solutions that will help them.
They need to be sure that their experience of your brand will be a good one.
KNOW YOU, LIKE YOU, TRUST YOU
They need to know, like and trust you – essential steps that precede any kind of purchase or transaction.
Now, what would it mean for you if all those audiences were big fans of your business? How about:
– Super-productive employees who go above and beyond every time, converting happy customers into delighted customers who tell all their friends about you.
– Massive (and possibly low-cost) publicity, a buzz about you, lots of noise about you in your market and lots of new customers or clients beating a path to your door.
– Increased revenue, better quality, fewer returns, higher profit.
– Fewer problems demanding your attention.
– The best of the talent when you’re hiring – a first-class reputation all round.
In other words, a really strong brand, more money coming in, and more time for you to do the things you want to do. Anyone want all that?
BUT WHAT IF YOU DON’T?
Conversely, what would it be like if those people weren’t your fans? Even just some of them? Picture this:
– Your customers struggle to hear your voice in a noisy market, and you’re more reliant instead on expensive advertising.
– Your employees do enough to get by – but no more.
– Investment and great deals are harder to get, thanks to a poor brand reputation.
– You’re pedalling harder just to stand still.
And when things go wrong – which sometimes they do, however careful we are – if your customers and partners are in love with you and your business, they’ll actually be the first people in line to help you recover.
OK, OK – we’re biased. This is our thing. Communication is our passion. And we would say all of these things, right?
Yes, of course. But in decades of helping huge companies, small businesses and individuals get better outcomes through great communication, we’ve only become more convinced that communication and branding is a rock-solid way to grow businesses.
Why else would major brands keep spending millions of pounds on advertising every year, when they already have huge market share and their brand is instantly recognisable? Why else would big consumer brands keep investing to protect their image, test their customer experience, and develop their people?
Industry research shines a light on the link between great communication and hard, monetary business performance, including:
– increased share value
– bigger profit margins
– higher productivity
– faster production times
– lower levels of employee absence
– improved employee mental health
– safer workplaces.
INCREASE YOUR BUSINESS VALUE BY A THIRD
Put it this way – if I offered you a way to increase your business value by 30 per cent or more, would you want that? Would you find it easy to say ‘YES PLEASE’?
Well, that’s what industry research tells us great communication can do for you and your business. It’s essential for your business success.
Now, here’s the biggie. There’s one ‘stakeholder’ we haven’t mentioned yet – and it’s possibly the one who demands the very best communication of all…
How you communicate with yourself will be the single biggest key to unlocking the obstacles that stop you growing your business and achieving your goals. From better understanding your customers, to being really sharp about how you position yourself and your business, right through to the language you use when you are talking to yourself – the impact of your self-communication is immeasurable.
Still feeling reluctant about becoming an ace communicator? I hope not!
Still feeling overwhelmed? Again, I hope not – though I absolutely get there is a lot to think about and a lot to do. Of course there is, because great communication can make or break your business growth.
The good news is that there are really good tools and strategies, tips and techniques to help you do the right things, and do them really well. Emma and I are here to help.
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