As a Founder, You Must Also Be the Face of Your Company
As the founder of a business, you inevitably wear many hats. And not all of them will suit you, but that's OK. Of course, you play a significant role in developing the product or service offered by your company. This is why you started the business in the first place, and as something you're passionate about, it usually comes easy.
Running a whole company is a different matter, and dealing with HR, legal, finance and other operational issues do not come naturally to all entrepreneurs. But this is something you can get help with, like when Mark Zuckerberg hired Sheryl Sandberg as Facebook's chief operating officer.
Another vital role of a founder is to be a spokesperson for the brand. Again, this is not always something that comes easily to people. But, unlike running a company, it's much more difficult to outsource effectively.
A company's founder or CEO is a critical marketing tool. The leader of any business is best placed to be its primary promoter and spokesperson, so it's no surprise that a quarter of CEOs have a marketing background.
You may not have the right skills or experience to do it well yet. It might not be a role you're comfortable with, but here are three reasons why as the founder or CEO, you need to be able to be the public face of your business.
1. Your best customers buy your vision.
In the 1990s, Dyson entered the domestic appliances market with a powerful new vacuum cleaner that was significantly more expensive than other brands. The company's founder, James Dyson, was featured in television ads where he studiously explained the technology that made his product uniquely superior.
Today, Dyson is a multibillion-dollar business that continues to pitch itself as an innovative design firm led by a disruptive inventor. Being more than just a domestic appliance manufacturer appeals to customers willing to pay more for premium products. Even when Dyson declared that the word "branding" was banned at Dyson, it was great branding. He was using his position as a brand spokesperson to tell customers that the company was totally product-focused.
I talk a lot about our mission of making American healthier. Our best customers are those who like what I have to say and also think about what they drink or rub onto their skin. Some of these loyal fans are regular subscribers who almost exclusively drink hint water.
2. You can represent your target customer.
Michelle Phan was publishing popular makeup instruction videos on YouTube when she came up with a business idea she knew her audience would love. It was an inexpensive subscription service called Ipsy that would deliver samples of premium makeup products along with instructional videos on how to use them.
Phan knew it was a good idea because as someone who enjoyed creative makeup ideas but couldn't always afford the best full-price products, she was her own target customer. By the time she left Ipsy to start a new business, the company had 3 million subscribers.
I also started my business to solve a personal problem. I decided to cut out sugary sodas from my diet to get healthier, but I wanted a tastier alternative to just drinking water, so I came up with hint. Today, I still share the same concerns with our customers about how my family and I stay healthy. I also knew that a subscription service for our products would be useful for busy working parents like myself.
Related: Employees Are Your Company's Voice
3. You'll reach new audiences.
I am fortunate enough to be invited to attend and speak at conferences, events and dinners across the country and world. Many are not related to the beverage industry, nor are they focused on health issues. In fact, they are often about startups and women in business because being an entrepreneur is another topic I'm very vocal about.
At these events, I tell the story of how I started my business to people who may not have thought much about the health issues I raise. Newly exposed to the problems associated with sugary diet sodas and our product that offers a simple solution, we often have excited new customers by the end of my talk.
At one event, I spoke with Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan, about hint. Now his company stocks our products in its offices. I would never have targeted a multinational investment bank as a typical hint customer, but by putting myself out there as a spokesperson for my brand, I was able to reach a new and unexpected audience.
One brand, many voices
Utilizing a founder as a spokesperson is extremely valuable for communicating a brand's story and mission in a way that truly connects with people, but that doesn't mean you have to be the only face associated with your brand.
Once you've established yourself as the primary voice, identify others in your organization who can add their perspective. When your business can tell an even more profound and richer story, the more you'll expand your reach and gain new customers.