Business

In retrospect: third anniversary of It’s Your Business

This month’s column marks the third anniversary of It’s Your Business appearing in The Record. During that time we’ve dealt with numerous topics that are essential components of operating a successful business.

Although I can only scratch the proverbial surface of each topic, it is my intention to provide you with enough information so that it inspires you to either learn more or take some time to review your current strategies.

If there is one theme that could be woven throughout each column, it is the underlying business philosophy that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Building a great business is no different than building a bridge or other structure. Without a blueprint providing clearly defined specifications, disaster is just a hammer blow away.

It is for this reason that it is so important to take the time to develop a strategic plan, business plan and communications plan. Critical to this process is to know and understand the differences between these plans and how they work together in building a successful business.

Built into the development of these plans are a few components that if handled properly will raise your company or organization to a higher level of acceptance by your customers or stakeholders.

For example, going through a SWOT analysis will help you develop your USP. Cutting through the jargon, this refers to the process of taking a critical look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats so that you can clearly define who you are and what your unique selling proposition is.

This is only the beginning of the business journey. Embedded in the process is the need to understand the difference between advertising and promotion, publicity and public relations, and how these are impacted by branding strategies.

Essential to all of this is research, defining your target audience, understanding what motivates your customers and considering whether you need to develop a niche market. This leads into the development of creating messages that are on target and delivered to your customers by the medium that will give you the best return on investment.

Running a business today has to take into consideration a number of disciplines. There are going to be periods when you will need to deal with tough times and perhaps even have a crisis management plan in place.

Then there are all those face-to-face situations where you better have a good elevator pitch ready because you can’t always count on social media to get your message across.

Staying on top of your business involves keeping abreast of new developments, following trends, setting goals, strategies and tactics, and finding inspiration that will help keep you passionate about what you are doing.

While the methods and language used in teaching business practices has changed, the basics have not. No matter what you do, you are still in the business of marketing which is defined in the dictionary as the process or technique of promoting, selling and distributing a product or service.

Simple, yes, but in today’s business environment it means that you need to pull everything together into an integrated marketing and communications plan so that you can co-ordinate and align all your strategies and tactics so that everything is working together.

In essence, it is pulling together the sum of all your parts which gives you and your business its personality, your raison d’être and most important the reason why people should do business with you.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached at joesmith@shaw.ca.

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