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Andrea Hill

Why Everything You Do in Your Business Should Start with Your “Throughline”

It’s the ultimate goal of marketing.

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YOUR BUSINESS IS a collection of processes, all strung together from open to close. You open the store, display merchandise, show jewelry, answer questions, ring up sales, take in repairs, post on social media, meet with sales reps, adjust the schedule, order inventory, meet with employees, return phone calls, put the merchandise away, arm the alarms, and lock the doors.

These processes consume most days. After a while, it begins to seem like the whole purpose of work is to create days with just the right balance … the right number of tasks to fit the number of hours and people available.

Which is when we begin to lose the throughline of our business.

A throughline is a concept normally applied to writing stories. The throughline is the thread that binds the story together. When you read a poorly constructed story, the first things you notice are events or details that don’t make sense, or that distract from the main point of the story. In a well-written story, each detail makes sense in the context of the whole and helps bring the story to life.

If your brand lacks a throughline, then all those processes are being done without a central theme binding them together. To the people experiencing your brand, everything will seem transactional. Pleasant? Sure. Satisfactory? Of course. But still transactional, because they will fail to be connected by a single, meaningful thread.

So how do you create a throughline for your business? It starts with your business culture.

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Your business culture sets the tone for what you prioritize and how everyone in your organization communicates and behaves. What do you value, why do you value it, and how do you express those values? Most people think the story of a business starts with brand, but brands cannot be sustained without attaching them to intentional, nurtured cultures.

Your brand is where the throughline of your values turns into stories. It is how you weave the story of your values through everything every employee does.

As a brand ambassador for your business, ask yourself: “What do our culture and brand tell us about how the merchandise should be displayed? How do we answer the phone relative to our brand story? How does every surface in our store, from the floor to the ceiling, reflect our brand story? How to we treat customers according to our brand? What about our vendors and other community members? When customers listen to the way we communicate with each other, is that consistent with our brand story?”

If you’ve been focused on weaving your brand story through every social media post, blog, photograph, and web page, that’s good. But it’s not enough. Your business is literally a marketing machine, churning out messages from every surface, from the fixtures and flooring to the trays and display forms. The throughline of your brand story is conveyed in the sound bites of conversation among your employees and the clutter (or not) on the counter behind your register.

Take the collection of processes that make up each day and thoughtfully integrate them as part of your brand’s throughline. This is exactly what your customers are looking for, and the ultimate goal of marketing.

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