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What's Your Story?

Create emotionally invested customers by injecting your unique personality into every aspect of your business.
July 1, 2007
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/180482

Often what sets one company apart from the next is the entrepreneur at its helm--his or her personality, history and philosophy shape the company's corporate culture and, ultimately, its image. This unique difference, this cult of corporate personality, can become a strong competitive advantage when properly nurtured and extended into all sales and marketing messages.

Customers define themselves through the brands or vendors they choose. Whether you're an inner-city minority business owner or a fashion model-turned-electrical contractor, your own life story, company ethics or mission can help you build a distinct image for your business or brand that will draw customers who feel a kinship with you and your message. This is one form of "emotional marketing"--getting customers interested in your products or services because of how they feel about your company, not just your day-to-day offerings. And it's an ideal way to gain customers with a vested emotional interest in your success.

Ties That Bind
Just look at the way Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, grew her single storefront into a global power-house by championing her belief that businesses can be both profitable and responsible. The Body Shop's success came from Roddick's ability to differentiate her brand based on her personal beliefs and unique business approach, much in the same way that Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. and Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's became legendary. From cosmetics to computers to ice cream, the stories created by these powerful entrepreneurs have distinguished their companies in the eyes of customers.

The key to effective emotional branding is to stay within a few important guidelines:

Contact marketing expert Kim T. Gordon, author of Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars: The Top 50 Ways to Grow Your Small Business, at smallbusinessnow.com. Her new e-book, Big Marketing Ideas for Small Budgets, is available exclusively from Entrepreneur magazine atsmallbizbooks.com.