What Makes Marketing a Family Business Unique?

by Sonja van den Bosch

What Makes Marketing a Family Business Unique?

Family businesses have a unique opportunity to stand out in a crowded market space. A family business is often built on strong foundations like a quality offering, a rich history and solid relationships.

Being a small family business ourselves, we love working with other family businesses. Over the last 11 years my team and I have been welcomed in many family-owned businesses to help them capitalise on their strong foundations. We are often treated as extended family members and It is always a real privilege to help them bring their uniqueness to the forefront and set them up for a strong future.  

5 Key strengths of family businesses

In our experience, the 5 key strengths that most family businesses (and also businesses with a family culture) have in common are history, values, commitment, passion & substance.

How can a family business benefit from these 5 key strengths and use them in the marketing of their business?

HISTORY: Sharing great stories

All of us love fascinating stories, that’s how we relate and remember things. Family businesses often have great stories about how mum & dad, grand-dad or generations further away started the business and how the business has evolved. The soul of the business is often still alive, even many generations down the track. From a marketing sense these stories create trust, authority and most importantly an emotional human connection.

Wedderburn, a leading scales company, was founded 124 years ago, in 1896. We are working with the 4th generation and the history is still alive and even part of the tagline.

Wedderburn

Wedderburn – Since 1896.

Australia is still a colony when founding forefather Jabez William Wedderburn officially opens the doors to Wedderburn Scales in Sydney in 1896 at 88 Liverpool street. Read the full Wedderburn story here.

VALUES: Living and breathing strong values

Family businesses often have strong values that they live by. Usually, their family values are also their business values. They are often centred around truly caring for the customer and looking after staff as well as honesty and integrity. These values create their culture and bringing these values and their culture to the forefront and communicating them clearly and consistently helps build an even stronger emotional connection with everyone around them.

National Technical Services (NTS) is such a great example of a family business that is living and breathing their values. We’ve worked with mum, dad and now the second generation to bring their marketing to life and their values are one of the reasons why their customers keep coming back.

Shane Conlon, NTS Australia

NTS – Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence.

“At NTS we have a great working environment and team inspired by our ‘Can Do’ attitude and culture. We strive to deliver excellent technology solutions for our customers that will grow with them.” Read more about the NTS culture and values here.

There is also a great story about their 20 year journey. You can read it here.

COMMITMENT: Building a legacy

Family business are not here for the fast turnaround, for building and selling quickly. Leaving a legacy, generally for their children and their grandchildren is often a focus. This means they focus on long-term decisions and want to set things up properly. They are willing to learn and try new things by taking calculated risks, as they understand that they need to keep innovating or regenerating. Building lasting value and succession are often key drivers.

Tecpro Australia – Succession Planning & Building Value

I so vividly remember the first day I met Graeme Cooper from Tecpro Australia, now more than 10 years ago. Graeme told me he wanted to build value and Tecpro’s reputation in the market with the aim for succession, handing something valuable over to the next generation.

Tecpro Australia
With Graeme & Andrew at AIMEX

Graeme and his Tecpro team had built the business purely on great quality products and delivering the best customer service. Graeme knew he needed great marketing to really make his company shine and being an engineer he also knew he was lacking the skills inhouse.

Fast forward to today, the value and reputation have been built, the succession has happened, we are now supporting the second generation who are very excited about growing the business even more, while Graeme and his lovely wife Michelle are enjoying other things in life, like their first granddaughter. It’s been an honour and a real joy to have been there every step of the journey.

Here you can read an interview Graeme gave in 2015 about his journey so far.

Handing over to the next generation – Patrick, Graeme & Andrew.

PASSION: Putting heart and soul into their work

Family members often put their heart and soul into their work. They are connected to the business like there is no tomorrow. It is their identity; it is their life! Their passion shines through and makes them standout performers.

GM Photographics – Passion transformed into Brilliance

Graham Monro from GM Photographics, who we’ve worked with over the past 11 years and who has photographed my family on several occasions, says the following “I am doing what I love – photographing people. All of my travels and jobs have helped me build a connection with people. To me it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle that I chose and love and need.”

Graham Monro, GM Photographics

I can tell you that Graham’s passion doesn’t only come through during the family portrait shoot (which is always a fun experience) but also in the quality of the photographs. They are real standouts. See more here.

At Graham Monro’s Past & Present Exhibition in 2018

SUBSTANCE: Rather doing the work than talking about it

What all the above family companies have in common is that they rather get on with doing great work, instead of talking about it. It is an interesting one, especially from a marketing perspective. Of course, the quality of work is absolutely key, however taking some time to gather client stories, case studies and testimonials have been really beneficial for these businesses.

Interesting dynamics between generations

There can also be an interesting dynamics between generations. The older generation relying on their strong relationships and the newer generation wanting to innovate and try new ways of connecting with customers. Finding the right balance between the two is key and marketing can be a great help with this, connecting the old with the new.

In the end it is all about who is there to hold your hand and support you when you need them.

If you are a family business or a business with a family culture and would like support from another family business to make your business shine today, tomorrow and in the future, please get in touch.

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THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART

Inspirational marketing is about being true to yourself, being aligned with your core values and doing something you truly believe in and are passionate about. It is about creating meaningful relationships with everyone you encounter. It is about thoughts from the heart.

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