Is your business personality out of whack with your customers?

When the personality of a business matches its customer profile success follows. But a mismatch can spell trouble. Find out what business personality disorders to watch out for before they hurt your business performance.

A small business reflects the personality of its owner. This can be advantageous when the business owner’s personality enhances the business by attracting customers. But when the personality of the owner and the business are out of sync with prospective customers, poor performance is often the unfortunate consequence.

The personality of a business maybe isn’t so important when it has little competition but when competitive intensity increases, business owners need to examine and assess their business personality. They need to make plans to shape it into a clear, deliberate and visible identity that carefully selects the customers they wish to attract.

A match made in restaurant heaven
Let me show you an example of a business owner whose personality is working for his business. I’ll take you to a restaurant in a competitive main street where many similar restaurants are competing for the same market. The owner, a young chef who recently bought the business, decided not to make sudden changes when taking over the restaurant. He first wanted to get a feel for what his customers want. Yet his personality, friendly and enthusiastic is already projecting a fresh vibe, retaining existing customers and attracting new ones.

When personalities clash
Take the opposite end of the spectrum. Here’s another restaurant that had an attractive name, fresh approach and was growing until the new owners decided to change everything – the name, décor and menu — to match their personalities. Don’t get me wrong, the restaurant is a wonderful eatery with a New Age vibe of harmony and colour. But the problem is that it is located in an area where they don’t have customers to fit this profile. Competition is brutal leaving no room for mistakes like this. A trickle of customers frequents this restaurant and it’s sad to see their live musician in the early evenings playing to no-one.

How long can they go on this way? This is the kind of business that adds to the high small and medium size business casualty rate of more than 70% business failures in the first five years.

Projecting your personality onto your business without conscious awareness of your market can backfire badly.

Compare this restaurant to another that is quiet, clean, well kept with instrumental music from yesteryear playing and an efficient, attentive, old style service restaurant owner. Many people would find this place boring. But he’s selected his customers. By 10:00 am the place is packed with patrons, mostly retired women.

This restaurant owner has matched his business personality to his customers perfectly. He has created the ambience his customers want. It feels like being in a time-warp with crack sharp service, soothing old music and pristine cleanliness but it is working.

A business can establish its personality to attract the customers it wants. The right approach can entice a profitable section of the market. For example, a new band has broken into an overtraded market with a unique three-piece instrumental outfit. It is working, having drawn a niche from the younger customers looking for something different. But this strategy could have easily backfired. The risk is knowing that the market has the right type of customers in sufficient numbers.

Coherence counts when customers have much choice
Whatever your business personality, you need a unified through-line across your business so that it has a coherence in the mind of your customers and prospects. All the little inconsistencies can add up to a pretty disjointed, chaotic business personality which will be off-putting to customers. If you have these inconsistencies, they will stand out for all to see. For example, if your business projects friendliness but you are rude to customers and keep them waiting for their orders, then your business personality is inconsistent.

Putting it all together
How does a small business owner, once aware of their business personality, manage all these elements? It all starts with a close inspection of everything that makes up their business. Sometimes it would be good money spent to bring in a pair of fresh eyes to assist. But the consultant would need to have a proven track record, and more importantly, a passion for this type of work. For small and even medium size businesses managing all these elements can be challenging at first. But once the business owner understands what personality their business is projecting and how it affects customer buying, they are well on their way to make the necessary adjustments to match their business to their customer profile.

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