For Entrepreneur DeVries, the Risk is Worth the Reward

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Linking Missouri’s Businesses to the Right Resource at the Right Time

by Sarah Mote | Sep 23, 2015 Leave a comment


Laura DeVries, the director of communication and marketing for a St. Louis office, had an opportunity. During her 19 years of marketing experience, she recognized that small businesses and entrepreneurs needed marketing help in order to focus their attention on what they did best.

On the verge of transferring to another company, Laura instead decided to start her own business, CommCore Marketing.

Even though the timing was right and the opportunity was ideal, she had a problem. “My biggest obstacle was myself. I feared taking the plunge and failing,” she says.

Her scary moments built up fast when she became responsible for all aspects of her business. “Too many things were coming all at once and I struggled most with the technical side of running a business.”

Not willing to quit, Laura sought advice from small business owners she knew and respected. She asked questions. She asked for referrals and introductions. “Everyone was friendly, helpful and happy to offer guidance.” Laura advises anyone in a similar situation to reach out to their professional network.

Whenever doubts and fears roll in—what if the phone doesn’t ring?—Laura reaches out to her contacts again. “Take a step back and realize it’s going to fix itself, but you must be patient,” Laura says, while admitting patience can be tough some days. “Making it happen also requires setting realistic goals and being accountable to yourself.”

Working strange hours in order to spend time with the family is a great satisfaction. It’s rewarding to be in charge of her life, her business and her success.

Laura knew she was making a positive impact when she overheard one client tell a potential client that she now sleeps better through Laura’s help.

“Knowing that I’ve made that much difference for someone makes it all worthwhile.”


Ready to Get Something Started?

MOSourceLink has a network of more than 400 Resource Partners, nonprofit organizations ready to help you start, grow and scale your business. Start with our Resource Navigator to find help near you. Still stumped? Give us a call and we’ll connect you with the right resource, right now.

Post provided by Kris Edens, a copywriting and blogging resource for small business. She resides in Festus and enjoys networking, writing and the entrepreneurial community.

Link to complete article here.

Do You Have a Value Statement?

What is a value statement? A value statement is a declaration of a business’s top priorities and beliefs. These are used not only to remind employees of what a business’s goals are, but to connect with targeted consumers.

 

Your value statement, like your brand, will set you apart from other businesses. When it comes down to it, what do you really want to accomplish with your business? What do you really want to engage in your potential customers to make them identify with you? Remember, your business isn’t just about what you want, it’s also about what your customers want.

 

With so much media clutter out there, it’s important to be unique. If you look and sound like everyone else, then you are just going to blend into the clutter — and that’s not what great brands do. How can you set yourself apart? Think about it from a consumer’s point of view. If you were a consumer looking for the services your kind of business offers, what would you want that business to look and feel like in order for you to trust it? What kind of priorities would you want that business to have to earn your business?

 

Answering these questions will not only help you determine what your values are, but they will help you determine your target market as well. People don’t want just a service or product — a service or product is the bare minimum. People want a service or product that they can relate to and makes them feel something. A value statement brings in those feelings that help people connect a service or product to their business needs. So decide what it is you value, and what you think it is that your customers value, and create a statement that cultivates those feelings.

Brand Consistency: Why You Need It

Building a brand is tricky. You want people to think of your business uniquely. Ideally, you want to create a “vibe” that not only connects you with your market but associates a specific meaning within the mind of the consumer. In order to establish such a position, this requires a synchronicity between your brand strategy, brand message, and brand appearance. In other words, you need consistency.

 

Once you have established an idea for your brand, you begin to actualize this by putting out a message. Who are you? What do you offer? How are you different from the competition? These are the questions your message will answer. And once you have your message — stick with it. The longer you continue to put out your unique message, the more familiar it will become to people. And the more familiar it becomes, the more you build credibility. When it comes down to it, the consumer will seek out people and services that they recognize. So it’s important to be persistent with the same message — branding doesn’t happen overnight!

 

Your brand appearance should be consistent with the brand message. Think about it this way — the brand message is the meaning that you desire people to associate with your brand, whereas the brand appearance is how your message is actually perceived. You want to always be working toward closing the gap between your desired perception of your brand and the consumer’s perception of your brand.

 

Be aware that even the subtleties of your brand have an effect on the perception of your brand! If you’re a spa business and you want to brand your business with the colors black and red, your message may not be consistent with your appearance. Black is a very mysterious color often associated with fear and insecurity and red is often associated with high energy and sometimes aggression or anger. The associations that people have with black and red are not ones that would communicate a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation — the feelings you seek from a spa. So this would be an example of a lack of consistency between brand message and brand appearance.

 

Matching your brand message to your brand appearance is achieved through a brand strategy. Not all methods work the same for every message. If you are going to claim to be a “local” expert, then you need to do something truly local with your look and feel. If you’re a St. Louis local for example, one strategy to accomplish this might be to associate yourself with St. Louis sports teams like the Cardinals, the Blues, or the Rams. But this particular strategy may not work if you’re claiming local expertise as a bar owner, because most bars in St. Louis already associate themselves with the St. Louis teams. So another strategy to establish your brand message of “local expertise” may be in order.

 

When building a brand, cohesion is also key. However it should be noted that cohesion and consistency are not the same thing. By definition, consistency is doing the same thing predictably, whereas cohesion is doing things in a way that create unity. You can be successful in positioning your brand, having cohesion between your message and your appearance, but if you aren’t consistent your brand won’t last. Cohesion establishes your brand, but consistency builds it up. If you keep changing your message, people won’t be able to keep up with who you are and they will lose interest or forget about you.

 

Therefore it is important to find a look and feel and stick with it. Because the more you repeat a message, the more space it takes up in a person’s mind. Consistency is key!