A long time ago, when my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandmother was still a twinkle in her daddy’s eye, (when men were men and animals were running scared), branding was used as a way to identify livestock which belonged to each farmer.
A red-hot iron with a unique symbol was burned onto the skin of a farmer’s livestock, partly as proof of ownership, but also so traders could differentiate between one farmer and another. This reputation was particularly important to the farmer. If he had a reputation for consistently good quality stock, traders would look out for it. If he had a lesser reputation, the traders would treat it with caution or even avoid it. Traders used it as a guide to making a choice…
Today, branding affects all businesses to a greater or lesser degree but the underlying principles are still the same…
Build up your reputation as a consistently good quality supplier and buyers will seek you out, using your reputation to help them make a buying decision.
So how does this affect the Small Business Owner today?
Brand Building – Getting Recognised As A Household Name. Is This The Best Way To Market Your Company?
There are two lines of thought when it comes to marketing. The first, “traditional” marketing approach takes the view that if you regularly get your name in front of enough people, when they want what you offer, they will come to you. This form of marketing creates brochures which are very company product or service orientated – “Get them out to the prospects and they will remember us…”
The second approach is Direct Response marketing. The focus of this approach to marketing is to invoke a specific response from any marketing you do. The brochure created in this case is about addressing your prospects particular needs so they will buy from you now.
Obviously it isn’t quite as simple as that, but the principle holds true.
What you need to understand when it comes to branding, is that we are NOT just talking about your logo (although it IS part of your brand), we are talking about the whole experience your customers and prospective customers have when dealing with your company.
From seeing an advert or other marketing message, to receiving a letter from you to how you treat them when they ring you. This whole “experience” thing is what sticks in peoples heads and ultimately makes the difference.
Remember – Build up your reputation as a consistently good quality supplier and buyers will seek you out, using your reputation to help them make a buying decision.
Now, providing you are good at what you do, that you treat your customers well, deliver (or over deliver) what you promise, to a consistent level, you will build the reputation for being the best at what you do and people will start to recommend you – your brand will slowly but surely build itself.
Now don’t get me wrong. Your brand IS very important because it helps differentiate you from your competitors, but it is NOT a short term solution for building a business.
Quite frankly, spending your marketing budget on traditional “brand building” marketing for the average small business is a complete waste of money. There are quicker, surer and more achievable ways a you can grow your business.
Let me demonstrate with an example…
Write down who you think of when you read the following?
- Fizzy Drinks
- Toilet Roll
- Coffee House
- Instant Coffee
- IT Support
- Graphic Design
When I put this list to a group of my clients recently, the top answers for the first 4 items include Coca Cola, Pepsi, Andrex, Starbucks, Nescafé and Kenco. But as we got further down the list, the answers started to differ – differ because everyone answered based on their own experiences of brand awareness.
Now you don’t need to analyse the list and your answers too closely to realise two things…
Firstly the “household” names which everyone mentioned have been around for many years and secondly they have spent millions in advertising and marketing to build their brands to the point where you recall them “on demand”.
People May Well Know You But That Doesn’t Guarantee They Will Buy From You.
But just because you know Coca Cola, does that mean you will go and buy one when you want a soft drink? Not necessarily. Some people prefer Pepsi, or lemonade or any number of the other drinks available.
My point is this. Yes, building up your brand is important to your business, but it doesn’t guarantee that people will buy from you when they want what you offer anyway.
The truth of the matter is that generally, (the exception is possibly the fashion industry where “brand” IS everything) most people simply don’t care what the name of your business is. They don’t care how long you’ve been in business. They don’t care how many staff you have working for you.
What they do care about is “can you solve their problem?”
If it’s 11 o’clock at night, in the middle of Winter, the outside temperature is -10 degrees centigrade and your central heating has broken down, are you going to be doing a web-search for a Plumber that you recognise the name of? I very much doubt it.
Unless you personally know one, you’ll be looking for the first Plumber who offers a 24-hour call-out service, or maybe just the first one who answers the phone and can come straight away – one that “solves your problem”.
So as a business you have two choices. Look at marketing your business the “traditional” way. Or you can start to focus your marketing on what your clients and prospects really need and how to get that solution in front of them. If you provide the right solution, along with quality of service and you treat your customers well, your brand will continue to build itself.
If you really want to focus on building your business through Brand Marketing, then to do it effectively, you’d better have VERY deep pockets.
If you would like to share any of your personal experiences, observations or the results you’ve achieved using these or similar tips, please leave your comments and/or thoughts below. I always love to hear from you:
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