Business > Merchant Voice

Does your company have a soul?

When they hit a plateau on the growth of their business, entrepreneurs often look at ways to initiate a spark. One of the biggest things that companies overlook is the soul of the organization. It’s one of three stages to growing a business.

  • Stage 1: Technical Marketing Ability
  • Stage 2: Visual Branding
  • Stage 3: Soul and Purpose

To be clear, there are multiple ways to build a business. There is no one right way. Go the direction that works best for your organization based on your expertise, passions, and plans.

Stage 1: Technical Marketing Ability

At this stage, you will master marketing techniques. You will know how to buy pay-per-click ads, utilize content marketing, handle email campaigns, and execute any other marketing activity you can think of.

The best type of person running these campaigns will be analytical. She’ll be able to do split testing and figure out how consumers react to certain changes in the marketing message or website design. It’s a very systematic, rules-type of strategy that takes time and patience. But it will deliver results. If you can continuously build your business using these techniques, it’s probably not worth the investment to go to the next stages.

Stage 2: Visual Branding

If you’ve hit a plateau with your technical marketing ability, your next step will likely be to tie a visual theme for your website and brand. This means stepping up your product photography, working with a designer to nail your logo, and fine-tuning your brand colors and branding elements. The goal here is to pretty up everything — but not for the sake of being pretty. It’s for better user experiences and higher conversions.

A good book on the concept of design, by the way, is Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell.

Stage 3: Soul and Purpose

This is the hardest and most expensive marketing strategy. You likely won’t see tangible results from your efforts. It’s a long-term process that requires discipline and vision. The advantage is that you will be able to build a unique bond with your customers that could not result from your products alone. This bond will allow you to release premium products, to not compete on price, and grow through word of mouth.

To build your company’s soul, start with your vision and mission statements. What is the purpose of your company? For example, our vision statement is “To change the way society views beardsmen.” Your mission statement is more of the how you are going to affect the world. Our mission statement is “To foster style for urban beardsmen.”

When you develop these statements, think beyond your products. Imagine if Nike’s mission statement was “To produce the best shoes on the planet” instead of its current statement, which is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete.”

By focusing on “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete,” Nike knows whom to create shoes for. Define your audience and focus on the value you want to bring to it.

Once you have established your vision and mission statements, use them as an integral part in your internal and external communication. It’s not something you can say once, or hide away on a page on your website. They must be repeated time and time again. They will be the foundation of your brand and will allow your organization to have a cohesive vision for your visual branding, as well as its overall communication.

Many successful, fast-growing B2C companies have a soul. It’s a key reason why they are successful and fast growing. Toms Shoes, Warby Parker, and Zappos are good examples.

Once you define your company’s vision and mission, commit to both. It will be a challenge, as you likely won’t see direct results and you will constantly question your decisions. It’s a long-term effort. It will take years to build trust with your audience. Don’t expect immediate results.

Stage 2 (Visual Branding) and Stage 3 (Soul and Purpose) are not required for all businesses. But if you have aspirations for building a larger organization, both will likely be necessary. Stage 3, especially, is crucial. If your business is struggling to hit the next gear, look at its soul.

Eric Bandholz
Eric Bandholz
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