Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Deb Gabor, who is the CEO of Sol Marketing, brand expert, and investor pitch whisperer. She is the author of Branding Is Sex and assist clients in increasing revenue at her 8 Hour Brand workshops. For more information: www.SolMarketing.com.
SmallBizLady: DEB, NAME A BRAND THAT HAS RECENTLY COME UNDER FIRE?
Deb Gabor: Sure, there are several that have come under fire. Here are a few:
- Wells Fargo
- United Airlines
SmallBizLady: WHAT DO MOST BRAND DISASTERS HAVE IN COMMON?
Deb Gabor: That’s a good question. I find that most are failing to align the company’s actions with their brand values, beliefs and mission.
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU PREVENT A BRAND DISASTER?
Deb Gabor: Ensure your brand is a magnet that attracts to its customers, employees, and vendors who share beliefs and values similar to the organization and people behind the brand.
SmallBizLady: AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE TO AVOID DISASTERS?
Deb Gabor: Here are two steps as a small business owner you should take to avoid disasters:
- Be clear on what your beliefs and values are as an organization.
- Make sure those beliefs and values inform everything you do and say as an organization throughout the entire course of doing business.
SmallBizLady: WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE AFTER A DISASTER HAPPENS?
Deb Gabor: Accept responsibility. Apologize.
Show concern for health and welfare of the people. Illustrate detailed explanation of what the company is going to do to prevent a similar situation. And, create a deadline for reporting back to customers.
SmallBizLady: HOW SOON SHOULD YOU RELEASE A PUBLIC APOLOGY AFTER A CRISIS?
Deb Gabor: As soon as humanly possible. Hopefully, under 24 hours from the incident.
The sooner the better.
If you don’t control the narrative, the media will.
SmallBizLady: WHO OWNS YOUR COMMUNICATIONS IN A CRISIS?
Deb Gabor: The business owner and leadership team are responsible for how the company should show up in a crisis. This shows ultimate accountability for the situation.
SmallBizLady: WHICH BRANDS THAT HAVE FACED BRAND CRISIS LATELY DO YOU THINK ARE GOING TO RECOVER?
Deb Gabor: Starbucks is going to make it!
They were swift to accept responsibility, showed regard for humanity, took decisive action.
The CEO has been leading the charge on communication in an authentic and personal way.
SmallBizLady: WHAT IS A BRAND?
Deb Gabor: A brand is a magnet that is designed to draw in customers, investors, employees, and partners that share similar beliefs and values.
SmallBizLady: WHY IS BRANDING IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES?
Deb Gabor: Here’s the short answer: you have a brand whether you like it or not.
When you go through the process of defining/articulating your brands DNA, this will open strategic/financial territory. You’ll attract the right customers, and it will help you stand out from the competition.
SmallBizLady: WHAT ARE SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF STRONG BRANDS?
Deb Gabor: The best brands in the world are the ones that elevate their customer’s self-concept and make them feel like the hero in their own stories. The best brands in the world bond emotionally with their customers.
SmallBizLady: HOW DOES A SMALL BUSINESS BEGIN TO CREATE A BRAND?
- Create a profile of who your ideal customer is. Who is your company’s products and services made for?
- Define the self-expressive benefits of your brand by asking what does it say about a person that they use this brand?
- Then, figure out what is meaningfully different about your brand.
- Lastly, figure out what your ideal customers life story is and define how you make them the hero in their story.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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