68% of your customers have no idea why they should choose you!
I saw this statistic many years ago – so don’t ask me where it came from, but it rang so true to me, that I remembered it. If you’ve ever said “I need more customers” or if your customers are complaining about your price — you’ve got a branding problem. That means that they don’t know WHY they should choose you.
Branding is a Short Cut for Getting Chosen
Branding is the box your customer puts you in when they are thinking about buying what you are selling. In a busy, skeptical, overcrowded marketplace, the human brain creates shortcuts for itself — this is the biggest reason you need to have a firm and solid brand — so that when your customer is thinking about buying what you’re selling YOUR company name us the first to pop up in their mind. While there are many other reasons branding is a good idea, this is the only one that matters to customer and revenue-hungry entrepreneurs.
Basic Branding and Messaging Exercises to Help You Attract Ideal Customers
Look, you want to know the secret to a great brand — designate an entire day, sit down and tickle your brain with
How to Brand Your Business: Exercise #1
When I want__________ I go to _________ (insert your name here)
- Go get some index cards or sticky notes
- On each sticky note write something that your customer WANTS when they are buying what you are selling
- Now look for where you can be more specific — add those descriptions to your “want” note or create a new note
People Choose You Because of Who You ARE and Not What You DO
Your brand also serves as a shortcut to likability. Your brand should clearly communicate the personality of your business; are you a luxury brand or a budget brand. Are you soft, friendly and casual or are you cutting edge, techie and formal? Different strokes for different folks.
How to Brand Your Business: Exercise #2
In this exercise, the questions may seem lofty and irrelevant to your business, but when you look at your own buying behavior, you will see that it’s more true than you might imagine. You’ve heard the phrase that people buy from those they know, like and trust. That is easily and intuitively understood. But do you KNOW why people know, like and trust you? That is the bigger question. A lot of business owners don’t. And these three questions will get to the root of the know-like-and-trust-factor.
- Who are you being in the world?
- What are you committed to?
- What can people count on you for?
Just for fun, make a list of your favorite brands and see if you can answer these questions for THEM — you’ll notice that it’s pretty easy. But when you try to do it for yourself, it’s a little more challenging. If you get stuck, pull in some friends, associates and customers into the exercise, ask them these questions and see what you learn.
How to Brand Your Business Exercise #3
I’ve been using these five powerful questions for so many branding style exercises. In this version, I’m asking you to engage the right side of your brain and create a visual picture.
- Draw a stick figure of your ideal customer right before they want what you are selling
- What problem are you solving for your customer? Draw a representation of that.
- What is their perceived notion of how the problem is solved? Add a thought bubble of what your customer is thinking.
- How do others say this problem is solved? Add a “chorus” of competitors and write what they might be saying.
- How do you believe this problem is solved? Show yourself as a HERO. Guide them to the solution.
The beauty of using images and thought bubbles to brainstorm your branding messages is that it accesses a completely different part of your brain. By simply drawing out your customers situation, problem and possible solutions, you will come up with new ideas and messages that you may not have considered in the past.
How to Brand Your Business Exercise #4
How many times have you found yourself having to write something about your business, or maybe create a web site, sales page, email, brochure or ad and come up with NOTHING! Not just writer’s block, but complete empty-head. You need what we marketers call a swipe file.
The idea behind a swipe file is super simple — take what works and converts and adapt it for yourself and your marketing. It’s a super easy way to take advantage of the testing, that others have done and apply it for your own marketing.
A swipe file is really nothing more than a folder or notebook (can be on your computer or in your drawer). The purpose of this exercise is to collect words, phrases, headlines and bullet points that best describe the benefits that you offer to your customers.
Here are some tips and tools to help you master the art of swiping:
- Get some screen capture tools. I use Jing from TechSmith as well as Awesome Screenshot. You can also use the Evernote web clipper.
- Create folders or notebooks for your swiped content. Great content comes in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll want a place to keep it all. Evernote is a great way to put all your swipes in one place.
- Sign up for email lists. The best place to get great ideas is by signing up for marketing experts’ email lists. Find those experts who you know are running million dollar marketing programs and sign up for their downloads and emails. You will find a TON of great ideas, phrases and content that you can adapt for your own.
- Set time aside to process. Once you’ve established the habit of grabbing great content, you’ll want to set aside time to process it all. Find time slots either daily (as a coffee break) or weekly to process what you’ve found and adapt it for your own.
How to Bring Your Branding To Life
Branding isn’t just for your business name or logo — everything you do around your business should have a clear brand communicated throughout. I strongly recommend creating a branded image as soon as you have your branding exercises completed. There’s nothing quite like seeing your brand come to life in a professional design to get your entrepreneurial juices flowing.
My favorite source for great design is 99Designs. I’ve been using them since 2008 for logos and site design projects. I like 99Designs because you get so much more variety and I also love the ability to survey my audience and network about which designs they like best.
I’ve had folks tell me that they like Fiverr. I’ve tried it, but haven’t been as happy with the results as far as designs go. So, 99Designs is my favorite resource for great design on a budget.
[Note: I am a 99Designs affiliate, which means the company pays me a commission every time someone signs up via one of my links. But this didn’t influence my recommendation, I recommend 99Designs because I have used them in the best, I have years of experience with them and honestly believe they offer the best overall value for crowdsourced design.]
99Designs has graciously offered the DIYMarketers community special pricing on everything from logo designs to total brand identity and business cards.
Branding is an Ongoing Activity – Keep Brainstorming
If there’s one thing I could leave you with today — it’s the understanding that branding is a daily, ongoing activity. It doesn’t stop once the logo is done. Your brand is so much more than a logo or an image — it’s your ability to fulfill on the promises that you make to your ideal customers.