Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Business Mindset

In a previous blog, we wrote about The Consumer Mindset.  Now it’s time to turn around and focus on the mindset of a business owner.

Two of the more important elements in operating your own business are:  1) Remembering why you’re in business in the first place; and, 2) Remaining focused on your customers at all times.  Having a valuable product or service, strong management, and exceptional customer service are significant as well, but everything else usually falls under one of the two more important elements.

Let’s elaborate.

You probably got into business for several reasons.  Filling an under-served niche market to meet a consumer demand or need may have been one of them.  Having an impact in the world and making some money might have been the reasons.  Some people start a business to fund their retirement or to create an enterprise for their children to take over.  There are those who merely want to say they did it and they had the world in the palm of their hands!

World in Hands

Whatever the reason you started a business, or are thinking about starting one, take the time to stop and think about that mindset once in a while.  Every six months is a good benchmark for taking the time to reflect on your purpose for doing what you’re doing.  If you need to make changes, weigh your options.  Think deep about whether it is a change that really needs to be made.

A quick transition to another owner, a fire sale, or a bankruptcy can be traumatic and devastating to your employees, your customers, and to you and your reputation.  It is best if you can take the time to think through and plan a transition that benefits everyone involved in the change.  Consultants such as Brand Irons can assist with these transitional periods and smooth the waters.

What is also important in the business owner’s mindset is having a mission that is clear and conveys the vision of the company.  Owners have an obligation to portray their vision to their employees, their customers, and the public on a consistent basis.  That takes constant, open and two-way communication with team members, along with the insistence that the same level of communication is shared with customers and potential customers.

It’s also about setting objectives and striving to accomplish them.  It involves being able to make tough decisions without emotional attachment.  It means being confident and assertive without being offensive or demeaning.  Praise in public and criticize (we prefer instruct) in private is a valuable approach.  A pat on the back goes further than a kick in the pants.

Be open to suggestions.  An employee on the front line may have an idea that could make you millions.  Be generous and share the credit.  Herb Kohl, former U.S. Senator and owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, reportedly paid each of the employees of the facility where his team played $500 for their dedication to the team.

When your purpose is clear, your service to your customers also has clarity.

 Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand

Market Segments

Let’s start with defining market segmentation.

First, your “market” consists of the people who need your product or service and the people who want your product or service and are most likely to purchase it from your company.  Rare is the company that has products or services needed by “everyone.”  Manufacturers of toilet paper are one exception that comes to mind, but when you think about it, infants and children still in diapers are not “customers” in the sense they can make a purchase, and they don’t need toilet paper yet but that’s okay.

Market Segmentation Target

Second, market “segmentation” is a method for dividing up your potential consumer base into various, well-identified portions for the purpose of appealing directly to that group.  An obvious differentiation is between female and male consumers.  If your company manufactures and sells high-heeled shoes, women are going to be your strongest market segment.


Considering that group of consumers, it is likely you can further define your market into age-related segments.  Things constantly change, but high heels are less likely to be worn by females under the age of 15 and those 65 and older.  There are exceptions, of course, but what this tells you when it comes to marketing is that you are likely to have fairly well-defined market segments:  Women in the age groups of 15 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, and 55 to 64 or similar delineations.

Rather than belabor the example, let’s get to the point.  The more narrow you can define your market segments, the more concentrated your sales efforts can be on each of those segments, and the greater your likelihood of success in expanding your market share in certain segments.

As professional business and marketing consultants, defining a customer’s market segments is one of the primary steps in developing an effective marketing strategy to build a company’s brand.  Advertising can be expensive, especially if the return on that investment is questionable or, shamefully, unknown.  Why would you market high heels to a male audience?  Or in a Super Bowl commercial?  Think about what makes sense.

Where the challenge lies is in determining the buying characteristics, or what we refer to as customer buying motivation (CBM), of each market segment.  Why would women in the 25 to 34-year old age group buy high heels more frequently than those in the 55 to 64-year old segment?  If you find it is job-related or as a need for social status, you have narrowed the potential appeal for your shoes to that age group.

The next step, and where professional help can prove valuable, is determining which delivery vehicle is best for conveying your sales pitch to that demographic audience.  In conducting research, you might discover (as we have) that women 25 to 34 may have a favorite TV program but they use the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) to fast forward through the commercials.  The challenge, therefore, is figuring out how to reach them with a message that encourages or convinces them to buy from you and become loyal to your brand.

We’re here if you need help with any of this.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand


The Relevance Check

Every so often, business owners need to stop and check on their relevance in the world.  It is far too easy to become complacent and consumed with our daily activities while ignoring our pertinence to the world around us.  We think, like Mighty Mouse, that we can save the day because we’ve been there before or we know the answers … without even listening to the problem or trying to ascertain what it might be.

Mighty Mouse

Business owners can have a tremendous impact in many areas of our human existence.  You’ve surely heard the story of the shoe company owner who donates a pair of shoes to poor children for every pair his company sells.  That has relevance, especially to the indigent young people who’ve never had shoes to wear, and we’re sure it makes the employees feel good about their ability to make an impact on the planet and people’s lives.

How many business owners sacrificed profits to keep employees working during the difficult economic times over the past several years?  Quite a few, and that had relevance to the workers who were able to benefit from that generosity and keep their families fed.

The guide to relevance is through soul searching.  Profits are certainly important; a business cannot survive without profitability.  However, it is when profits become the sole motivator for business operations that the concept of greed enters the picture.  It’s the gypsy mentality about taking money from other people however you can so you can enjoy a more lavish lifestyle.

Consider how relevant you are to your employees.  Do they respect what you’re doing and follow your vision with a strong sense of belief?  Or do they just show up and do their job, or the least that’s expected of them?  Do they even know what’s expected?  Even though you may have the best products on the market, your employees are the real asset to your company.

Think about your customers and how relevant you are to them.  Do they need you, your products, and your services?  Do they value what you offer, or are you just a commodity they need?  Do they believe you treat them well?  Could they purchase what you offer from someone else?

These are simple steps you can take to assess your relevance, and companies like Brand Irons offer assistance to help think these things through and assess where you are.  One of the more important steps in the evaluation process, and often the hardest to face, is the self-evaluation.  Are you doing what you truly want to do?  Does it make an impact on the world?  Are you happy going to work every day, or is it drudgery?  Do you have time for your family, and do they appreciate the time you spend with them?

How relevant are you?

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand