Who do you think you are? And just as importantly, who do your customers think you are?
Before you can figure out how to communicate effectively, you have to find your voice.
It means working out what kind of people you and your colleagues are and what kind of company you want to be.
… And then making sure that everything you say and do is in keeping with the personality you’ve created.
A lot of companies get this horribly wrong. Knowing what you stand for as a company isn’t about tacking some dodgy marketing-speak onto a “Values” page on your website. It’s not about forcing your team to sit through a toe-curlingly awkward brainstorming session where they put forward wildly exaggerated, clichéd adjectives like a scene from The Office.
It’s about genuinely believing what you say and proving this through your actions.
There are hard financial benefits to this, too. Misrepresenting yourself through your marketing materials and messaging is terrible for your customer base – but figuring out your niche can drive sales and boost your bottom line.
It’s daft to say, for example, “oh, we’re a dynamic, creative, innovative company pushing boundaries in our industry” if, in reality, you’re a conservative-minded organisation that strongly believes in sticking to traditional, tried-and-tested practices that you know you can depend on.
Customers that are looking to try out ground breaking new approaches will quickly be disappointed, while you alienate your natural market of cautious, risk-averse customers that want someone solid to rely on.
On the other hand, if you really do value “outside the box” thinking, you have to be prepared to see it through.
Do you try out new ideas that your team members bring to you? Do you find yourself saying “no” automatically when someone asks if they can adopt unusual working styles or flexible hours – or do you give these things a chance?
Claiming to be one thing when your behaviour suggests another is a sure fire way to irritate your team and foster cynicism in your business. That’s why the values you state have to be the values you genuinely believe in.
And why you have to make sure that living by these values applies to your internal company communications, as well as external messaging.
Once you’ve figured out who you are (and how to position yourself in your market), stick to it. Stay true to your vision.
If that means turning down commissions, opportunities and partnerships that jar with your vision, so be it.
It might even mean tempering expansion slightly in the early stages, so that your company doesn’t change beyond recognition – with your values becoming the first casualty of growth.
It means taking your hiring process extremely seriously, sourcing people who truly share your vision and fit with your company culture, rather than looking exclusively at their qualifications or experience.
And it means developing strong, effective communication between colleagues and nurturing close working relationships, so that your team stay on the same page and help you to reinforce your vision in everything they do.
This is a guest blog post written by Marek Sanders, who is a copywriter, productivity enthusiast and Fleep evangelist.