Entrepreneurship in the Age of Digital Branding

Posted on July 8, 2013

Entrepreneurship – the cornerstone of Canadian businesses. According to Industry Canada 15.4% of Canadians were self-employed in 2011 (numbers remained steady in 2012) – with the likelihood of that percentage increasing in the upcoming years. Canada is the ideal landscape for embracing entrepreneurship and allowing passionate people, ideas and solutions to thrive. Particularly in our location (Kitchener-Waterloo, ON) there are many start-ups, entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals that turn their ideas into viable businesses (just check out Vidyard, Thalmic Labs, ClevrU as living proof).

Entrepreneurs are able to find a need in the market, provides quality solutions for that need and deliver excellent customers service along the way. It is the epitome of our economy; the ability to individually build a business, more specifically a brand that will be associated with an innovative solution that no one else is able to provide, or provide well enough.

Unfortunately, not all entrepreneurs are highly qualified in all aspects of successful business management – a local, home-made BBQ restaurant owner will be a master chef but may not be a immersed in accounting. Furthermore, entrepreneurs are often limited in time as they already spent working more hours than employed individuals. This makes running and growing a business in the long-term seemingly difficult; often larger companies are able to out-compete as they have entire departments allocated to each functional business area, whereas the entrepreneur usually does majority of the work him or herself. One area specifically that often gets overlooked is marketing, communication and the community which makes everything possible (aka customer).

Luckily over the past 20 years we have experienced a major shift in communication. With the advent of the PC, and more recently the mobile device generation (tablets, smart phones, watches, glasses, etc.), publicizing and content sharing is no longer limited to publication houses, or big businesses. Everyone now has the ability to communicate (cost-effectively) with large or small audiences, meaning that entrepreneurs now have the means of attaining good marketing without having to go through expensive channels (TV, radio). The key is to find a community which can be engaged and interacted with in a meaningful way.

You may, or may not have heard the term “content is king” with digital marketing, but it refers to the idea that creating content will give an upper hand in attracting customers and developing an online brand. This is true, with one exception: interesting, engaging, helpful and relevant content is king. Simply creating blog posts for the purpose of having a blog is no longer feasible. Help someone resolve a problem, answer a question, make them laugh, entice them to read and share with others, etc. By no means an easy task, but definitely an attainable one.

Entrepreneurship no longer competes with big businesses, but with original ideas and innovation both in the unique solutions it provides but in the content (or marketing) that it produces. Entrepreneurs have to adapt and become publishers, not for the sake of their brand but to stay relevant and keep their unique solutions up to date. To cleverly compete with big businesses and keep their competitive edge. Each entrepreneur has something unique to offer, a personality of their solution and brand (much like their own personality; quirky, analytical, playful, engaging, etc.). Their marketing should be the same; don’t tell people that you are unique or best at what you do – let them figure that out through open communication, find you at their own convenience and engage with your brand through interaction. Failing to do so may put you behind, as Alan Quarry (one of my former, very insightful university marketing professors and successful entrepreneur) says:

“Status Quo” is Latin I believe for “RoadKill”. The riskiest thing you can do today is play it safe and stand still.
— Alan Quarry (@aquarry) May 8, 2013

Entrepreneurs are all unique in their own way, why shouldn’t their marketing be? The digital branding age now makes all of that possible. Let’s make use of it!