Ask any large corporations and they will tell you that their brand is one of their most valuable assets. So, as a small business owner, why are you neglecting your brand? Branding is the first step to differentiate your products and services from your competitors. Now, ever than before, it is easier to establish your brand in the market place without spending lots of cash. Use the seven step formula to brand your business this year to reap benefits for years to come.
1. Assess What the Market Thinks About Your Current Brand. Ask your customers why they selected your products and services over your competitors. You can accomplish this step by performing short surveys of your current customers after their purchases.
The survey will reveal value propositions that you may not be articulating properly. There may be hidden intangible benefits of your products and services that you’re not leveraging in your existing marketing campaigns.
2. Define Your Brand. Write down an elevator pitch for your business using the language of your customer. Don’t use professional jargon or hard to understand concepts. Address your customers’ problems and how your product or service solves those problems.
If your business is online marketing and search engine optimization, your customers may not understand what those terms and concepts really mean and how they will benefit using your service. Instead, talk about more visitors to their websites from search engines for free.
Your goal is to define certain qualities of your business so that your customers are willing to exchange their money for the values provided by your business.
If you can boil down the qualities of your business into a memorable slogan, your chance of succeeding in promoting your brand is vastly improved.
3. Be Consistent In Expressing Your Business Values. Relentlessly pursue expressing the qualities of your business at every opportunity your get – be that your website, customer service, product packaging, blog posts, twitter messages, or facebook statuses.
Don’t change your business values depending on the customers that you’re currently serving. Don’t be everything to everyone.
4. Start a Blog. Blog gives you a platform to deeply discuss issues related to your industry, your customer problems, emerging technology in your market. Blog also provide an opportunity to interact with your customers. Update your blog frequently, at least twice a week. Read all the comments and participate in the conversations.
Don’t be afraid to refer to your competitors if you cannot solve the problem. You should be open and tell the truth to earn trusts of your customers.
5. Use Social Media. This one is a must in today’s socially connected world through the web. Tap into Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and LinkedIn. Use the social interactions happening in the social media sites to reinforce your brand.
Post interesting pictures related to your market, business, products and services in Flickr. Create “how to” videos and upload them in YouTube. Use YouTube to market your brand if you have given a presentation or your product is mentioned in the news and TV.
Even post the bad reviews of your products and counter those by giving your viewers with ample evidence to the contrary or promise them to fix the problems as soon as possible.
6. Monitor Your Brand. You can set up Google alerts to monitor your brand for free. Or you can hire a third party vendor to monitor your brand. They will give you a report everyday if there are any mentions of your products and services.
These third party vendors scour the web, including forum posting, blog posts and comments, product review sites, a vast number of social media sites and peoples’ comments on those sites to unearth good and bad mentions of your brand.
If you see a consistent pattern of negative mentions of your brand, you know you have a problem and you need to address it immediately. Don’t hide. Tell your customers that you’re aware of the situation and how you’re addressing the problem.
7. Stay Focused. Branding is a long-term effort and you may not see immediate results within a month or so. Don’t get frustrated and abandon everything. Your brand will evolve over time as you introduce new products and services and economy recovers. If you position yourself right now, your prospects will remember who you are and how you have helped them when they were in need.