Tag Archives: product definition

Owning A Business – Part Two

Once you’ve taken the time to think about why you want to own a business, and considered corporate structure, legal, and accounting issues, it’s time to think about your products or services as they relate to your customers. That should come sooner, but as you will find out, the knowledge about your customers is vital to profitable business ownership.

First, consider this: What are you selling?

Business ownership means knowing what you sell.

Does the customer buy what you’re selling?

It’s not as simple as selling your landscaping service or furniture. That may be what you intend to market to consumers, but where business owners come up short is in believing that’s what the customers will buy. Far from it.

Let’s get specific. Owning a landscaping business can range from mowing lawns and plowing snow to designing landscapes for new homes or commercial properties and everything in between. The skills and expertise of you and your crews are essential to the brand your company portrays to the public and convey a certain value to the proposition.

So flip the coin to the customer’s point-of-view: What they’re buying is, in one case, more time they don’t want to spend mowing their own lawn, raking leaves, or shoveling snow. The other extreme is having landscape design (and implementation) that matches their lifestyle, whether it’s where they can entertain friends or showcase their home in the neighborhood … or whatever other reason.

Owning your furniture business involves products more than services, although design and delivery are aspects that involve customer expectations. So, do you sell couches, love seats, beds, mattresses, chairs, dressers, and shelves? Yes. Is that what your customers come in to purchase? Yes, but …

Are they purchasing functional pieces with certain styles that fit their decor or color schemes? Or do they insist on mid-century modern? In either case, it’s more about the lifestyle they want to have. Price certainly comes into play, but your success and profitability as a business owner lies in being able to learn and know what appeals to your customers.

As you can begin to see, there is considerable thought that needs to go into business ownership, and we’re just getting started. In part three, we’ll spend some time on how to identify your customers.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand


Branding Your Services

Smoking brand ironWe’ve blogged several times since 2012 about brand-related topics, yet rarely have we been specific about how to create a brand for services.  Here we’re going to show you the tip of the iceberg with the intent of encouraging you to contact us (Brand Irons) about going through the entire proprietary process.  We know you’ll find value in this, so we beg forgiveness – or at least temporary memory loss about trying to generate business.  You can contact Brand Irons by clicking on the link in the tag line at the end of this blog.

The first step in creating a brand identity for your services is to define what those services are, and what they look like to a prospective consumer.  If you believe you sell a tangible service, consider whether it may – in reality – be a product offering.  A true definition of a service is something that is intangible because it rarely involves a physical item that the consumer can use on his/her own.

An example might be a cleaning service.  Yes, the service provider has cleaning products – either cleansers and equipment they provide or yours – but the actual service they provide is a cleaner, healthier, and perhaps neater, more organized home or office.  That’s visible but intangible.  How well the cleaning company employees do their job is subject to your perception and expectation.  You see the tangible end result, but how the work is done can vary from cleaning person to cleaning person.

Enough on tangible vs. intangible.  What you need to define is your service in terms of what the consumer receives.  If you offer a motor vehicle service, it’s less about the qualifications of the technician or mechanic than it is about providing customers with safe, comfortable, and trouble-free vehicles to use on the streets and highways.

A second step is to identify your strengths.  What are you good at providing, and can that be a profitable aspect of your business?  This soul-searching process can be beneficial if you and your business are in a transitional stage as the answers provide clarity on direction.  This is an area where a consultant can help you achieve that clarity.  You may also think about the weaknesses of your services and phase them out of your business model if it makes sense.  Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water, though.

Keep in mind that these steps may take place in a different order when you engage Brand Irons for your branding strategy sessions or think them through on your own.

A third step is creating a strategy for your brand that can be implemented relatively easily and sustained for as long as you own the service, product, or niche market.  This involves identifying your target markets, geographic range (if applicable), and other variables to put the package together and get it in front of potential consumers.  The look and feel should reflect your strengths and the power of the services you offer that differentiate your business from your competitors.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand


Why Does Water Taste Different?

A perspective on where our water comes from.

A perspective on where our water comes from.

Okay, you’re wondering what the heck how water tastes has to do with marketing your business, and it’s a good question.  The answer will be revealed.

Water should taste the same, right?  It’s a clear liquid without additives, so it should have a uniform texture, consistency, and refreshing appeal to the palate.

Every business is the same, right?  There’s a reason for existence, a leadership team, incorporation, sales team, products and/or services, and marketing to reach the audience.

The answer to the question about every business is obviously false.  Now, some non-business people may believe every business is greedy and therefore evil, but what they fail to realize is that a business would be unable to provide them with a product or service if it was unable to make a reasonable profit.  Even non-profit organizations need to have money to operate.  Even franchise operations are different.

As a marketing professional, I prefer to avoid reference to particular franchises (unless it’s a client and we’ve been given permission), but let’s consider one whose logo features certain-colored arches.  There is a level of consistency one expects from this franchise, wherever one of the company’s stores may be located.  That premise implies that each of the fast food stores under that umbrella is the same.  Wrong!

The variables range from location (inner city vs. highway exit) to management, staff,  volume of traffic, and the make-up of the surrounding neighborhood.  Patrons frequent one store over another for quality of food, speed of service, cleanliness, friendliness, price, and convenience, among other factors.

Let’s flip back to the variables that have an impact on water.  Think where the water comes from in the first place.  It’s absorbed into clouds and comes back to earth as rain, which then filters through the ground into an aquifer or runs off into a stream, river, lake or other body of water.  As the natural rinsing agent it is, water brings along minerals, dirt, pesticides, and other “stuff” into whatever container it flows.  Unless we extract it ourselves from a lake or stream, water is usually processed through a filtration system and pumped into a water tower or other pressure tank to flow into our homes so it’s there when we turn on the tap.  Some municipalities treat the water with fluoride or other chemicals and some leave elements such as certain levels of iron in the water.

So, the bottom line is water can taste different depending on where it comes from, especially in terms of what container holds it.  Water in plastic bottles all seems to taste the same, but it depends on if it was bottled at a spring or through a municipal or business processing system.  Some of us can drink tap water and love the taste, where others may find the iron content too high or dislike the city water’s flavor.

Personally, I have grown accustomed to drinking water from a stainless steel bottle, which reminds me of drinking cold water from a stainless scoop dipped into a milk can from my days working on a farm.  I try to avoid filling the landfill with plastic bottles, even if they are recyclable, but if it’s my only choice, plastic fits the bill.

The point of this is that your hamburger, product, or service is going to taste different to every consumer.  In the case of the burger, it could be the quality of meat, percentage of fat, how it’s cooked, or the accompaniments such as the bun, condiments, vegetables, and whatever else someone likes on their concoction.  You need to know, as much as you can, what your customers want and deliver it in such a way that differentiates you and your business from the competition … and build loyalty to your brand!

That means you need to know what your brand is.

Is it tap water?  Well water?  River water?  Spring water?  Or run-off?

When you need help finding the source of your water, contact Brand Irons for guidance.