There are a number of different strategies that you can employ when marketing your business, but the goal of each is the same: reach your target demographic and convince them that you are the company for them. Unfortunately, many businesses overlook one of the most important tools they have: their own culture.
Define your culture
The culture of a company is something that can be difficult to define. It is a combination of the internal priorities and motivations of the business, as well as the way that it is perceived from the outside by potential customers or clients. Ensuring that your marketing campaign incorporates the most important aspects of your internal culture can give you a serious advantage over your competitors.
Company culture will vary widely across industries, just as the ideal customer will vary from one field to another. Utilizing this aspect of your business can be the greatest advantage you have in the market. Consider the differences between Apple and Microsoft. While both produce machines that perform similar functions, and each has its advantages and disadvantages, one sells those machines for about twice the cost of the other, and their customers are absolutely devoted to them.
Target your audience
While Microsoft has tried to appeal to every customer, keeping their culture professional and their brand identity somewhat traditional, Apple has outwardly embraced youth culture and tried to portray themselves as an “alternative” brand. They have pulled early adopters away from their main competitor, designing and marketing their products as much as fashion accessories and status symbols as tools or tech. This strategy has taken them from a somewhat niche status to one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
You might think of corporate culture as the personality of your company. Your target customers are looking for a specific type of business to patronize, whether or not they’re aware of it. They should be able to identify with you, and see you as a company that shares their priorities and interests. You should be reaching out to them on their turf, because it should appear to be your turf as well. Do they do their shopping online, or in person? Do they get their news from the internet or from traditional newspapers? Understanding them is your first task, because that will allow you to reach them where they are most receptive to advertising.
One excellent way to promote your business through your company culture is the use of a spokesperson. This could be the founder or CEO, or someone else who fully embodies the best and most appealing aspects of your brand identity. A spokesperson will put a human face on your company, and provide a real-life representation of your goals and priorities. If possible choose a person who would also represent your ideal customer base, as this will express not only your culture, but its similarities with your customers.
Visual branding will also play an important role in culture-marketing. The aesthetics of your logo and ads will drastically affect the way that potential customers perceive your company. A company selling home medical supplies should choose very different graphics than one that sells kids school supplies, for example, as their customers will differ in age and interests.
One example of targeted marketing took place in 2009, when the SciFi Channel decided to rebrand itself as SyFy. They stated that this would eliminate confusion about what should be capitalized, but science fiction fans were not confused until after the change. They understood that the name was a contraction, and felt the new name lacked any meaning in the context of their relationship with the company. The true purpose of the change seems to have been in preparation for a more significant shift, as the network was moving away from their traditional programming and into reality television. While their original audience understood and appreciated their classic branding, they felt the change was necessary to widen their viewership.
The important thing is to remember that your company is projecting an image of culture no matter what, and if you aren’t in control of it you’re doing yourself a very real disservice. Determine who your ideal customer is, and try to understand what kind of company they’ll want to do business with. Carving out a niche can be a great business strategy, but it only works if the customers feel that you belong there.