Financial New Year is the perfect time to consider your brand

taxtimebannersqOdd, but true: the end of the financial year is the perfect time to think about your brand!

At this time of year we tend to be focused on organizing our business accounts, looking through our costs and profits and, of course, getting everything sorted for our taxes. As you go through your accounts and your records for the financial year of your business, I want you to keep something else in mind: your brand.

Your brand is something you should revisit periodically, just as you would revise and update your business plan. And the financial new year is a perfect time to do so, since you will already be looking through the records that will provide you valuable information about your brand. So have a pad and pen handy as you go, and jot down some information about the following things.

What information should you be looking for?

Products & Prices

  • What items have been your biggest sellers?
  • What items are not selling well?
  • How often were purchases made at full price, compared to sales/discounts/packages etc?

Marketing Strategies

(example: newsletter, blog, social media, referral program, media mentions, ads etc.)

  • Which strategies brought in the most customers? The biggest purchases?
  • Which strategies brought in the least?
  • How much did those efforts cost you in time? Money?

Sales Methods

(example: market stall, online shop, facebook ecommerce tab; tactics like bonus offers, exclusivity, buy one get one etc.)

  • Which tactics and methods brought in the most customers? The biggest purchases?
  • which methods brought in the least?
  • How much did those efforts cost you in time? Money?

Ideal Client & Target Market

  • Which customers were your biggest spenders?
  • Which customers made repeated purchases throughout the year?
  • Which customers passed your name on to others?

What does this information tell you?

Products & Prices

  • How do the popular purchases compare to what you love making/sourcing/selling?
  • Are these purchases for the core products of your business, the ones you built your biz on? Are they for the cornerstone items you feel best represent your brand?
  • What can you learn about your pricing? Are there popular items that are perhaps underpriced based on how quickly or often they sell?
  • Are there things you should be selling at full price only because your profit margin is not high enough to support the discount? Or because your time is more valuable?
  • Are there items that are not moving that you could discount to make room for newer items that better match your brand?

Marketing Strategies

  • Are the marketing strategies that worked to bring in customers the ones you love doing?
  • Are the marketing strategies you are using bringing in the right kinds of customers?
  • Are there any strategies that fizzled, yet you really like them as part of your biz? can you tweak them to fit your brand better?

Sales Methods

  • Are your sales coming in from them places you expect? The places you are putting the most effort?
  • Are there any sales avenues you can give up, or perhaps tweak to be more effective?
  • Are there obvious successes that you can concentrate on or expand on in the future?

Ideal Client & Target Audience

  • What do you know about the people that are buying your stuff? Describe those people in as much detail as possible.
  • Are the people who are buying your stuff the same as the people who you love working with? Or would you describe them as high maintenance/more trouble than worth?
  • What do these products you are selling tell you about what your clients really need from you? The problems they most need solving? The gaps that perhaps exist in the marketplace?

How does this relate to your brand message?

Compare what you have learned about your biz from the records of your year, to the brand message you believe you are sending out about your business. How well do those two messages match up?

For instance if part of your brand message is ‘high-end’ but according to your records people are only buying when you have discounts or sales, then that doesn’t match up well. Or if your brand message is ‘custom’ but people are only buying the as-is and not booking in for custom work, then that tells you something.

What you need to do now is decide if your brand message needs to evolve to match your business as you are running it right now. Or if your products and prices, marketing strategies, sales methods and target audience need to change to better match the brand message you have set out for your biz.

One final thing to consider is what do you love to do? If you love making a certain product, taking on a particular marketing strategy, or selling your thing one way over all the others, then that can tell you about the brand message you need to be sending out to the world as well. Your business will be the most fun to run and the most profitable when all of these things match!

What should you do in the coming year?

Depending on what you discovered about your brand in this exercise you may need to:

  • do some tweaking of your brand, or even some larger rebranding of your biz
  • focus on certain methods or strategies and give up others
  • do some work on the products you offer or adjust your pricing/discounting/packages

Pick one or two things to work on right now, and refer back to this exercise throughout the year to be sure you are keeping on track with your ideas and plans. Tack your brand message up in big bold words beside your desk so every time you work on a new idea for your biz you can be sure it matches your brand.

And if you found this exercise difficult, because you did not have the right information in front of you to answer the questions, then in the coming year be sure you have ways to track the following things:

  • which products were purchased in every order
  • whether purchases were made at full price or with some discount
  • where the products were purchased from (if you have multiple methods of doing sales)
  • whether the purchase was made due to a sales tactic (such as having a limited time offer)
  • how people found you (names of referrers or where people heard about your biz)
  • who is buying your stuff

The financial new year can feel like a bit of a fresh start for your biz and all the new ideas you have.  Have fun with it!