If you are paying attention to social media in earlier part of July, you might have heard some people chirping about Shark Week. Not just shark experts and oceanographers, but, well . . . everybody. Look up the hashtag #SharkWeek, or just take a spin through your social media and you will see Shark Week has people talking.
Shark Week is essentially an annual trend in media. The Discovery Channel is at the eye of the Shark Week storm, and has a whole website dedicated to it because of the television show of the same name.
According to the Richard Lorenzen, a public relations expert who wrote recently for the Huffington Post, “Shark Week” is something to be embraced by smart PR professionals, savvy brand managers and entrepreneurs. By tapping into the buzz and mentioning Shark Week as much as possible, entrepreneurs can garner attention and better engage their audience with timely, on-point posts that reference the trend.
But it raises one question for you and your business: Do you really care about sharks? Do your customers care about Shark Week? Maybe not.
Just because something in the news (and even in business news) becomes a trending topic — whether it’s sharks, the Super Bowl, or what Kim Kardashian is wearing this week —- that doesn't mean that you are necessarily missing out if you don’t jump on the bandwagon.
It is often tempting to be part of something everyone is talking about. But what really makes a business work is its dedication to providing quality goods and services. Moreover, connecting with your audience of customers about what you do and who you are is the best way to communicate.
Sticking to Basics
Jack Welch once wrote in his bestselling book, Winning, that a common problem for companies is “trying to be all things to all people at all times.”
The former General Electric CEO is also known for positing the point of view that a company should be good at what it specializes in — no matter what product or service category — or get out of that business altogether.
On the same wavelength, Inc. magazine tapped the wisdom of Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO of litteBits. In a video from this spring, Bdeir, who leads a rising star tech hardware firm, emphasizes that entrepreneurs and their companies often succeed by focusing on their original mission and core products versus chasing opportunities for quick gain or “short-term revenue opportunity”.
As such, it is vital to let customers know what you do and what you do well. Whether you rely on social media and website traffic, print advertising, or a lot of face-to-face contact and printed marketing materials to promote your business, stick to the basics about what you do best.
Branding Basics: Just Be You
Last fall a correspondent at Forbes Magazine, who actually writes about “personal branding” for individual professionals, laid out three simple points that also work well for small businesses. William Arruda (who wrote a book called Ditch. Dare. Do!) did not hesitate to use companies and brands that we all know to emphasize the importance of being known for what you do well.
“When we think of Volvo, we think safety, and that’s because Volvo builds safe cars. Apple is known for innovation because everything they do . . . is innovative,” Arruda writes. “Disney is synonymous with family entertainment.”
The author’s three basic basics — know yourself, show yourself, and grow yourself — aren’t just introspective dribble. Rather, he points out that whether your company makes something or helps other businesses to be better at whatever they offer, you should not vague about your expertise. Find a way to integrate that into your brand. Share the story about who you are and the value you provide as much as possible.
“To grow yourself, you also need to practice brand integration, meaning you need to rethink everything you do every day and find ways to inject your brand into those tasks.”
Overall, both branding and running your business requires commitment to the things you do best, and making sure your customers know what you offer. Though it is tempting, don’t be distracted by sharks, or other trending topics, just because it seems like everyone else is talking about them.