Every Contact With Customers Is Branding Your Business Right Now
Just read an article at Inc.com that listed “Brand Awareness Campaigns” as one of the three fastest ways for small businesses to waste money. That makes me cringe!
I understand the premise, that small businesses don’t have the budgets to build brand awareness through advertising. Do you know the feeling?
I know you feel like you don’t have the money for a brand awareness campaign. And I certainly agree that the small business marketing budget should focus on tactical activities that create sales leads or advance the sales cycle.
But let’s get something straight: every contact with customers is branding you. So you better pay attention to your branding even if you aren’t a big budget business. Yes, you don’t need a brand awareness ad campaign to build your brand.
However, I reject the implication that small businesses don’t need to focus on brand awareness. As a small business owner or marketer, you most certainly need to control the branding you are communicating every day.
Every time a customer walks into your store, every interaction with your employees, every newspaper ad read, radio ad heard, phone conversation with a customer service rep, and mailer glanced at before thrown in the trash, is branding you one way or another.
Your brand is what customers and prospects believe about your business.
You can’t control it, but you can influence it. That way your customers and prospects may end up thinking what you want them to think about you.
So What’s A Small Business To Do About Branding?
Don’t worry. Branding is easy.
You’re doing it right now. It’s what you do every day anyway! To understand how to brand your business, you need to follow three marketing fundamentals:
1. Have A Great Product or Service That Delivers A Unique Benefit To Your Customer
You can’t put the cart before the horse. You must have something of real value to your customers that they can’t get anywhere else. No amount of advertising will turn your lame horse into a champion. Without outstanding, unique value exciting your customer, your business will fail. Sorry.
If you’re currently planning to open a business, try this test: open up a coupon mailer envelope and put all of those little sell sheets on the floor. Look at all those pizza stores, roofers, lawn services, restaurants, opticians, weight loss services, hair and nail salons. What are they doing?
Selling price. They have not figured out how to deliver unique value that excites customers so they’re offering discounts and come-ons just to survive. That’s not marketing; that’s desperation.
Are you going to do the same thing? How are you going to stand out from this crowd?
Don’t be like those coupon people. You must create unique value that excites customers. Figure out how you can do this by talking to your customers.
Hire a qualified researcher for this part because it’s impossible to get an honest answer from a customer if they know you know who they are. They don’t want to hurt your stupid feelings!
2. Make A Promise To Your Customer And Exceed It
“I promise you….” Simply fill in the blank with your promise to your customer. Write it out and force yourself to simplify your promise down to one sentence.
“I promise to change your oil in 30 minutes or less with service that makes you feel like a VIP.”
“I promise to make you a huge, tasty burrito exactly the way you like it faster than you can get a Bland Burger at Happy Land for about the same price.”
Do you see why these businesses were successful? How about this one:
“I promise you sub sandwiches that are just like the ones you can get on The Jersey Shore.” Do you see why most of these shops struggle?
3. Dress Your Promise For Success
Begin by writing down three adjectives to describe the personality of your business. You want to deliver these three qualities at all points of customer contact.
Work with an art designer to develop your three-color scheme. Pick one of these colors to be your dominant brand color. Your signature color. This will unify and add power to your brand. You can use color to stand apart from the market leaders. Use this color everywhere you touch customers.
Your Brand Gets To Wear The Same Outfit For Years
Be consistent with this brand personality once you launch. Tweeking is okay. Confusing your customer is not.
I Bought A Franchise So I Don’t Need To Focus On Branding, Right?
Wrong. Every business needs to focus on branding because branding is what customers think about you as they are walking out your door. If you are a franchisee, your basic brand work is finished for you. But how you deliver that business concept to the customer will determine what they think of you, ie. your brand.
How do your customers think and feel about you as they walk out your door? Frustrated? Disappointed? Angry? Bored? Or are they saying, “Wow, that was great.” That’s your real brand.