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Three Ways to Win a Customer's Heart and Mind

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As an entrepreneur, I'm often asked why I started my business and what makes us unique. Over the past 12 years, I've found that my ability to share the story of our business is fundamental to our success. To me, our story is about our brand -- what we stand for, why we do what we do and why we believe in it. While many organizations recognize the importance of brand, many have a harder time expressing their brand through a unique selling proposition (USP) to different audiences.

Last week, I had the opportunity to share my views on branding (and USPs) to 100 exceptional women: Canadian women entrepreneurs at the WEConnect annual Conference in Toronto. Women business leaders are a driving force in our economy.

Defining a solid and meaningful brand is foundational to any business and is the base of healthy and meaningful relationships with your target audiences. Women entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to build an authentic and compelling USP that will distinguish them from their competitors, inspire their employees and continue to help them embrace non-traditional approaches to success.

The USP is a concept that has evolved from a factual, externally focused message to one that is more holistic; it now has to touch and inspire your target audiences, whether it is your customers, employees, or partners. In our world, we believe it's the foundation for communications and a core capability of our firm.

At the WEConnect Conference, I shared examples of the detergent that washes whiter, and the iögo yogurt brand (our client) that is owned by Canadian dairy farmers - a brand that is fun and simple. The latter evokes not only an emotional response for the consumers, but also integrates the people who are at the source of the products, the farmers.

Here are three tips to help you begin the process to find, develop or refine your brand and ultimately your USP.

1) Define your brand by answering these questions:

a. Personal purpose: why do you wake up every morning to go to work? What is your impassionned reason to do what you do?
b. Business purpose: what is your business reason to exist? If your business disappeared, what would the world be missing?
c. Does your business purpose align with your personal brand? Does it resonate with your critical target audiences' expectations, as well as with your business strategy and business environment?

2) Implement your brand by answering these questions:
a. What is your one, precise message?
b. What is your personality, your tone, your style? If your company was a person, how would it behave?
c. What are the different messages for your target audiences?
d. What needs to be changed within your business in order for it to 'walk the talk?'

3) Communicate your brand by answering these questions:
a. What do your executive team, your employees and customers think of your brand? Do they share the same beliefs? Do you need to tweak it to help them believe?
b. Who can and should become ambassadors or your brand? Should they be trained to do so?
c. Is your internal communication strategy aligned with your USP?
d. Does your marketing material embody your USP?

Developing your brand is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to say who they are, what they stand for, what they believe in and attract the right people, as clients and employees strive to accelerate the success of their business. It is not about transforming oneself. It is about revealing yourself. As women entrepreneurs, this is an opportunity we absolutely must embrace.

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