Branding as I discussed in a previous article is understanding that your business’ reputation is dependent on you consistently delivering on your promises. In the follow-up article I discussed that your brand is also dependent on all stakeholders delivering on your promised message, as well as your values and vision.
But what do you do when you get it wrong? What if you don’t deliver on your brand’s message?
Confession time: This blog ironically comes about from my inability to deliver on my promise to get this article in on time for the Australian Businesswomen’s Network team. It is two weeks late. We all have times where things go haywire. Mine has been due to a personal story for a charity and I underestimated the toll it would take. But that’s not ABN’s issue, it’s mine.
Honesty is the best policy
When you haven’t delivered on what you and your business’ marketing says it will, let your customer know. It’s no use hiding, even if they haven’t said anything. Often they haven’t even noticed, but letting them know you know you haven’t met your promise can be the best PR for your brand.
Communication is key
Keeping in regular contact with your clients should safeguard any disappointments. If they know you are transparent and open with how the workload and time frames are going, most will appreciate your honesty. It can also be an opportune time to discuss expectations and how best to move forward together.
Under promise and over deliver
Nothing new here, but I’m not sure if it’s just me but this can be harder than it appears.
As business owners, especially in start-up stage, we are learning our limits alongside wanting to please prospects with what we can deliver. Ultimately, though, it’s no use sounding amazing with your services if you can’t physically do them.
Sole traders, especially, need to be mindful of self-care as we don’t have someone to assist – at least at “this stage”. Burn out is not the solution you or your customers want.
Set realistic time frames
Per “under promise over deliver”, this comes down to being really honest with yourself and your client. It’s important to ensure clear boundaries are agreed upon so both parties’ expectations are realistic. Don’t leave it to your client to assume time frames – they will rarely be aligned with the reality of all your client work.
Review and Learn the Lessons
I’m a caring person by nature and it’s very easy to get disheartened when I have let people down. If you’re like me, pick yourself up and review what went wrong, learn from it for your next client and improve your service for your current. I’ve quickly discovered your ideal customers will accept your apologies if you’re good at your work. You can never please everyone, so let the unhappy people go.
Be kind – Guess what, you’re human!
Being a business owner is freaking hard work! So, with this knowledge, be kind to yourself. It also helps to speak to other business owners who will quickly assure you that you are not alone. Things happen outside of work that we need to deal with – we’re human. You’ll be amazed how most clients will respect and empathise with (your) life’s chaos.
Branding is delivering on your promises.
But everyone breaks commitments from time-to-time. Be honest about your failures and learn from them. I promise not only will you be a better business owner, but you will be even more on-track to find and build your tribe of loyal customers who are genuinely happy to take the roller-coaster journey with you and your business brand.