Substance over style?

Sure, it's more important that your business is built on substance--an excellent product or service that's in demand, a strong and growing customer/client base, and a knowledgeable staff under your competent leadership.

But style matters too. All business professionals and entrepreneurs have it--and it's vital to emphasize your style to help set you apart from your competitors.

Style means accentuating your personality. It doesn't mean you have to be an extrovert--a people person--although that can probably help.

The folks in my industry--financial planners--are extroverts almost by definition. We love people and we love helping them. And extroverts also tend to have big egos. As I mentioned in a previous column, I sure have one. I'm not reserved. I'm controversial at times, so I draw a lot of media attention. My personality has become an integral part of my company's brand.

I'm sure you can think of many others who use style to get people to remember them.

Three good places where you can allow your style to shine through are:

  • Your company's website
  • Your advertising
  • Social media

Here's a quick way to determine if your style shines in your campaigns: Take any ad or posting your company has created and swap out your logo with that of a competitor's. Could they have run your ad or placed your posting? If so, you're not differentiating yourself.

Ads that feature common, general messages or stock photos or film, with text or ad copy that's full of clichs--well, you're not letting your personality come through.

People are smart enough to separate messages that are stiff or fake from those that are real. So give your business website and ads a personal touch. Let potential customers see who you and your company are. That's how you can ensure that more people will remember your company the next time they're in the market for your product or service.