How Your Company’s Maturity Determines Your Messaging Needs
Caterpillars are voracious creatures. They’re always eating. Some caterpillars are extremely picky and will dine on only one type of leaf, while others chow down on every bit of greenery they can. For their size, caterpillars have some of the hardest working teeth in the world.
Butterflies – which come from caterpillars – don’t have any teeth at all. Instead of chewing up the landscape, butterflies sip nutrition through their straw-like tongues, which are known as proboscis. Teeth aren’t necessary at this point in the butterfly’s life. Their presence would actually slow the butterfly down – when you spend your life on the wing, excess weight is not helpful.
Needs can change over the course of a lifetime. Your business has a life of its own, and at different stages of its development and growth, the type of messaging you’ll need to effectively stand out in the marketplace and attract the right type of customer will change as well.
In The Beginning: Even Before There Is a Caterpillar
Prior to launching your business, you should be talking to a lot of people. At this stage, your communications may be entirely face to face or in semi-private settings, such as LinkedIn group chats. As you work through assessing the viability of your new endeavor and do other preliminary groundwork, it’s important to listen as much as you talk and to be scrupulously polite – two best practices that will serve you well throughout the entire life of your business.
Start Up: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
A Start Up’s primary messaging challenge is to make sure the world knows it exists. Just as caterpillars are continually eating, the startup phase involves constant introductions – making messaging choices that put your brand in front of members of your target market, potential investors, industry peers and more.
The Established Company: Show Off Those Butterfly Wings
As your brand becomes more well known, your messaging strategy can shift slightly. Instead of focusing on the fact your brand exists at all, you want to emphasize why you exist and what makes you so special. Focusing on what you’re best known for in those venues your market would expect to find you is a good start – but don’t lose track of the fact that butterflies fly all over the place, constantly exploring. Actively assess new messaging opportunities as they arise, looking for places for further reinforce your value.
Expansion: A Bigger, Better Butterfly
As your business grows, your messaging strategy will need to adjust. Simply opening a new location will mean you need to revisit some tasks you’ve been through before, such as introducing your brand to a new set of potential customers. This process is often streamlined by the fact that you’ve already developed a brand identity and digital presence you can build upon. If your expansion means diversifying your service offerings or other significant changes, prepare to spend more time introducing and explaining what your brand is about.
Maturity: Are Your Wings Getting Tired Yet?
The longest lived butterfly lasts a year at most. Obviously, you want your company to last longer than that. Some brands reach what’s known as the mature stage, where profitability and growth remain stable year after year. At this point, there are three choices: to further expand the brand, to continue business as usual, or to position the brand to be acquired by someone else. Each of these choices requires a different messaging strategy, designed to accomplish your goals. The key at this point is to understand what you’ve chosen to do, craft a smart plan, and implement it consistently. Like an experienced butterfly, you know you can fly a long way if you want to!