Did you ever think that being “cool” was just for teenagers, wannabes and people with nothing else to do with their time?
In the cutthroat world of business, there is nothing more important than projecting an aura that makes your brand sparkle from head to foot.
Yes, sparkle my friend. As in being ridiculously interesting.
Because in this day and age of digital technology, social media, and mobile retail, nothing less than sparkly is going to attract the attention of people who literally have a buffet of options at their fingertips.
So if you’re an ambitious, out-to-conquer-the-world kind of entrepreneur (and I hope you are!), you should be uber interested in being the coolest guy or gal on the block, whatever the definition of cool is within your niche.
Those who say that PR and image are only superficial things when it comes to solid biz strategy are people with blinders on that see only half the equation.
Taking time to doll up your image doesn’t mean that you have to gloss over the substantive aspects of your business, or ignore the nuts and bolts that make it work.
Sure, you need to plan your financial flows and work on analyzing your competitors’ tactics, and all that (mildly boring) jargon-y stuff but that information should also be a part of a branding strategy that somehow translates into an image your people can connect with.
These days, we live in an age of instant information and instant solutions, with a consumer base that is always looking for the best deal they can find, because they know if they look long enough, they’ll find it.
So it’s more important than ever for you as an entrepreneur to get your message out there and create an image that your customers can relate to, like, and support for as long as possible, and build a loyal fan base.
That’s what image-making and brand-building is all about.
You Gotta Look Inward to Be Cool
To make sure that your brand has the cool factor, you have to go right into the heart of your business and do a little digging.
You’ve got to find out what really sets you apart from every other nickel-and-dime store already cluttering up the market. You have to ask the hard questions, even a few philosophical ones, to really know your brand inside and out.
- Is there anything brand spankin’ new that you’re offering to customers, or is it just a spin off the same old things?
- What is your core business philosophy?
- What feelings and thoughts do you want to convey?
All these and more will help you craft an image strategy that will really make an impact on the world’s perception of you and your brand.
And puh-leeze, quit with the pouty looks.
Just because you may be a ‘small start-up’ business doesn’t mean that you can’t do a little image-building magic and add a little sparkle when it comes to your brand.
You may be surprised to hear it, but even extremely small enterprises with itty bitty budgets can pull off a little image building voodoo and “bring the cool” when they put their minds to it. And when you consider the impact good branding can have on your biz and revenue, why the hell wouldn’t you try it?
Being cool can pay off big time, especially if you sustain the strategy over a long period of time. After all, you can’t be cool just once—people have short-term memory loss for things like that.
But you also have to be careful what kind of cool you want to convey, because this four letter word can mean different things for different people. You have to know just what your target market or audience thinks is cool, and then craft your biz to fit that profile.
ANNNDDD… all that jazz means a bit of worky for you.
How to Bring the Cool
1. Learn from the market, the customers and the competition.
Observing the current market dynamics is a good way for you to start off on your cool-ifying mission. Sure this is good business strategy but it’s also good branding strategy as well.
Breaking into a new market may mean tapping on the noggins of the right people with the right connections and the right kind of vibe, and you won’t know who those people are without a bit of homework.
Look out for bloggers and other opinion leaders in your niche, and listen to what they have to say about the people that you want to see you as awesome.
Getting close with the coolest of the cool allows you to see into the good, the bad, and the ugly within your niche, the preferences of its audience and customers, and the strategies and mistakes of your competitors.
It’s sleuthing 101, baby… just don’t be skeevy about it.
Use this intelligence to your advantage to fill in the gaps in a market or create a new and profitable sub-niche. Tweak your ideas to fit the problems that your competitors are having difficulty with fixing, and you can be sure that the people will come to you for the solution.
2. Offer something new.
The fastest and easiest way to being cool is being the answer to people’s problems. Like I said, people will pay attention to something that’s new (or perceived as new) and that promises to solve existing dilemmas and heart aches.
People are never content with the current state of things, so market demands are always ever-changing. And if you feel a niche is too crowded, you can decide to be a trailblazer instead. Set up shop for an up-and-coming market that is totally underserved but hungry for help and you’ve just upped your cool factor exponentially.
One (very) classic example of this is offering customized stuff. We just love having our names printed on everything we own, (Lord knows why…) so we have them personalized.
Before this became a “thing” there was really no existing market for mugs emblazoned with Kathy or Neil. But… there were at least two people who were willing to have them made via special order. And so- a market was born.
3. Strike up a friendship with the other cool kids.
Being cool doesn’t mean that you isolate yourself from the pack and are the only one in a niche. You can’t be “the coolest” if there aren’t any other entities, right?
One good way to get instant popularity status is to get cozy with the other cool kids around you.
Perhaps you can invite one of the niche leaders to try your product or service and ask them to publish what they think of your offering. (Just be prepared to take your lumps if they happen to not care for it!)
If you’re a relatively new blogger, guest post for some of the more established ones. Cook up a contest for your audience (maybe who leaves the best comment on the guest post) and offer cool prizes for the big winner.
You can also take a page from Srinivas’s book and interview them all!
This ramps up page views for the blogger who consented to featuring you, and does the dual work of letting your audience know you’re “cool” because you got to be featured Mr. X’s Cool Blog.
These tactics allow you to get to know the movers and shakers within your niche as well as establish authority to your customers and clients. And trust me, you need all the connections and authority you can get when trying to establish your brand and get people talking about it.
Of course, there are other ways to cool-ify yourself and your brand too. But we’d likely need an ebook for that, so these are a few that will get you off to a running start.
A Final Word of Wisdom Though
Cool doesn’t mean being superficial and only looking the part. It means being real and adding the sparkle by playing up your good points… and having the gumption to back those good points up every day.