So, you run a business, huh?
You probably provide some sort of product or service, right? Okay. So what? Who cares? There are a lot of products and services out there to choose from; why should I give a damn about what’s your brand?
Branding and marketing have dramatically changed, but marketers are still ill-equipped and reluctant to incorporate the changes. While creativity, branding differentiation, and advertising used to rule the field, the rapid growth of companies like Amazon have made value, service, quality, and culture more important. Now, more than ever, it’s obvious that details, the execution of logistics, and operations are integral marketing opportunities.
Consider these new key perspectives:
- Branding is not what you tell them. Branding is what they think of you.
- Your customers determine the value of your products—not you!
- We all know the adage: Features tell, benefits sell. So, if this is true, why do so many entrepreneurs still focus on the features of their product or service rather than the benefits? Your prospective customers don’t care what your product or service does; they only care about what it does for them!
No one cares about a cool logo or a fun design. No one cares about creative packaging. Consumers care about being satisfied. No one cares about your brand unless they have a good experience.
Therefore, “branding” is actually more operational. So, how do we shift our mindset from the old “traditional” way of branding and refocus on execution?
Make A Good First Impression
That first experience leaves a lasting impact. Is your store clean? Were the employees friendly? Did you have what the customer needed in stock? Is your website easy to navigate? Details matter. That’s why people hire designers to build websites and decorators to create ambiance. If a consumer’s experience wasn’t memorable in a positive way, you may have lost them. If their experience was bad, you’ve definitely lost them. What’s your brand is how they walk away feeling because that’s what they will remember.
Have a Strong Digital Presence
Nowadays, everything is digital. It doesn’t matter if your business is virtual or brick and mortar, you need to have an online presence. I’ve seen people intentionally avoid a particular store or restaurant because their website looked out of date or they had bad reviews on Yelp.
Things to consider: Is your website easy to navigate? Is your store easy to find on Google Maps? Does it even come up in a Google search? If a potential customer can’t find your store on the first try, chances are they’re giving up and going to whichever store they could find easily in their Google search.
Digital Branding needs to be comprehensive. You should have a website, social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter), and positive reviews on sites like Yelp.
Do Not Neglect Operations and Execution
Adequate staffing, prioritizing services, and having enough supplies to meet customer needs without incurring excess expense is critical. Pizza parlors need to plan ahead for Super Bowl half-time deliveries, right? This might not be your particular problem, but every business has its own version of the “half-time rush.” If a first-time customer tries to utilize your service and is disappointed, you’ve probably lost them.
Provide Service with Integrity
Obviously, the goal is to always provide quality service the first time, but we all make mistakes. If you do mess up, own up to it and try to make it right. Many cafes offer free drink coupons when an order isn’t made correctly. Acknowledging the error and attempting to make it right can sometimes prevent a lost customer.
Brand Does Not Determine Price
Traditional pricing models no longer apply in today’s world of business. Entrepreneurs who recognize this will be better able to price their goods and services appropriately. In the past, it was thought that a well-known, desirable brand meant you could charge whatever you wanted and people would pay. Now, search engines make it incredibly easy to compare prices and analytics are showing that, in reality, a low price is more important than a brand name. In fact, there are tons of people who may want the prestige of a designer bag, but are just as happy buying a knockoff.
Effective pricing strategies vary widely depending upon a number of factors. Consider alternative pricing tactics as well as the entire pricing package. It’s also imperative to remember that pricing is dynamic. Just look at Amazon and airline companies: you can search the same product or flight two days in a row and the price may shift. Demand determines price. Some companies even brand themselves based solely on things like “the lowest price option.
In this day and age, if you’re not providing some sort of ease of use or accessibility, you’re dead in the water. Try to offer some sort of convenience, such as easy payment plan options, delivery, or 24-hour customer service. Making your consumer’s experience efficient and convenient makes your brand “user-friendly.” And who doesn’t want to be thought of in that way?
This is one of the most important components of branding. Creating and maintaining a positive company culture is a critical component in achieving excellence and establishing a great brand. People remember experiences. They may not remember what they were buying, but they’ll remember the employee who was rude to them. Please and thank you always go a long way.
Your Brand is an Experience
Know your strengths. What makes you interesting and different from your competitors? This doesn’t necessarily mean “better.” Two different soaps can clean equally well and cost the same amount of money, but if one comes in fun animal shapes… that stands out. It’s different. It’s memorable.
There are people who shop at Saks Fifth Avenue, but also frequent Costco. These consumers aren’t worried about price; they’re looking for an experience—and they will receive a very different one at each location, but both will be satisfactory and in alignment with their desires. People enjoy shopping on Amazon because they like the experience of purchasing items from home, in their sweats. Successful brands have clear, distinct experiences.
So, what makes your brand unique? What experience are you providing? And why should anyone give a sh** about what you’re offering? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!
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