Following our final breakfast seminar of the 2010-11 series, one of the attendees asked, "Should we be up front and out front with customers that we are a family business?"
Without knowing anything about your particular family business brand, I would say yes, that you should be promoting the fact that you are a family business. Why? Because your customers care deeply that you are a family business. Many Fortune 500 companies market the fact that are family business. At the end of each add from Johnson Wax we hear the announcer say: “S.C. Johnson, a family company.” Ford motor, Enterprise Car Rental, and local food manufacturer Dietz and Watson, are but a few of the companies who market their “familiness” for good reason: research shows that consumers are more loyal to brands they know to be owned by family businesses.
So if consumers are happier buying from family businesses, why not let them know about your commitment to them and to your business? Let them know that your family stands behind your product and that they are sharing in your family’s heritage and tradition of great products and services. Consumers are hungry for the stability, the honesty, the commitment inherent in purchasing from a family business.
In addition, when you market, or even brand, your “familiness” you are distinguishing your product from your competition in a way that is truly unique. In doing so, you create the potential for a competitive advantage because you have something (your family name… which creates loyalty) that can never be copied.
One of my favorite examples of marketing your “familiness” can be seen in this advertisement for Columbia Sportswear. As you watch the video, ask yourself, what are they really selling?
While it is also true that your familiness can constrain your family business, if you haven't identified your resources and capabilities that sets your family business apart from other businesses, you haven't tapped into a critical resource for competitive advantage.
Mike's bottom line: For a host of reasons, you should not only be up front about being a family business, you should embrace being a family business.