Vision is what drives entrepreneurs to create great businesses. Not only does vision motivate them to do the hard work needed, but it also can set the tone for the company’s culture, encourage investors, and get early adopters excited about the new product or service.
Vision can do those things only if it is effectively communicated, however. How do you successfully communicate your vision through marketing?
1. Commit to Opening Up
One of the classic mistakes entrepreneurs make is to keep their vision “in their head.” They have an idea of where the company is going and what success looks like, but when it comes to day-to-day operations, they share only the steps for getting there—not the final destination.
This is too bad, because the vision that drives you can also keep your employees on board. When employees understand your vision, they are more motivated, better able to work independently, and are more likely to stick with the company through tough times. A-players especially are looking for something they can believe in and work towards, and so communicating a vision naturally attracts top talent.
Plus, a commitment culture fuels corporate culture. When employees understand your vision, they have more buy-in, and that commitment helps new businesses weather the difficulties ahead.
A bonus? Get input into your vision from your employees, partners, and of course, your marketing team or agency.
2. Let Your Vision Guide Your Marketing Plan
Your vision lays out where your business is headed, and what success looks like. Your marketing plan should detail the path toward achieving that success. If the plan doesn’t align with your vision, it needs to be reshaped so that it does.
When devising a marketing plan (or working through one with an agency), keep your vision in mind as you ask and answer the following questions:
- What type of client do we serve? What are they like? What are their pain points? How can we make a difference in their lives?
- Who is your client or customer avatar? How do they spend their free time? What do they do?
- Will you stay small and nimble? Or are you looking to grow larger? Will you have an international presence, or more of a local footprint?
- What does your business do better than any other? What are you known for? What differentiates you from the competition?
- What are a handful of words you would use to describe your business to others? What should people associate with your business name or brand name?
- What is your brand story?
For example, suppose you are a software company trying to disrupt a stale market in the B2B world—warehousing software, say. You imagine that, one day, every warehouse will be run more efficiently because it has automated systems running your software. Small manufacturers and large home-based businesses will be able to compete with Amazon, turning around their orders with lightning speed… all because your software made it possible.
Already you can imagine how the marketing plan needs to revolve around this vision. Entrepreneurs and small business owners will be your clients, and they will likely be feeling the crunch of managing their inventory themselves. Your company, small and nimble, provides simple software with a number of customizable options to get them started. You reach out to them with the promise of getting them through their growing pains, all the while offering great content that helps them work through some of their stress points.
If your marketing plan does nothave those elements, it will need to be rethought so that it more closely aligns with the vision.
3. Be Ready to Tell Stories
Marketing professionals have known for some time what science is beginning to prove: People are hardwired to listen to stories and relate them to their own lives. Cognitive scientist and novelist Keith Oatley likens stories to flight simulators for pilots: Just as the simulator trains pilots where to go, what to do, and what to expect when flying a plane, stories act as miniature “life simulators” for us.
Stories, then, are a great way to communicate your vision to others. Just think of the structure of a good story and how you could fill in the details from your own vision. What was life like before your startup? Who is the hero of the story? What’s the challenge? Who or what is the villain? What is the surprise twist or “A-ha!” moment? What about your past drives the passion in what you do today?
Get your story down, practice it, and make it your own. Then share that story.
4. Recognize When You Need the Assist
Vision comes to entrepreneurs naturally, but communicating that vision to different groups—employees, investors, customers, and so on—might not be so easy. Hire an expert who knows how to tell your story well– through PR placements, quality content, videos, and more.
As an entrepreneur, vision was your springboard but, as you grow, it must be repackaged as both an internal and external marketing tool to catapult your entire organization.