What is your small business brand? Most small businesses have a rough time creating a brand that people can either connect with or that makes a lasting impression. That is not unusual because think of what small businesses are up against when it comes to branding. Large companies like Apple, Microsoft, Intuit and Symantec invest massive time, resources and money to build their own brands. The result is a tremendous amount of branding noise? caused by marketing and promotions from large brands across multiple channels. Everywhere you go consumers are bombarded with brand messaging.
As a result of the noise, small businesses face immense challenges to develop and grow their own brands. However, all is not lost. There are specific and very meaningful ways that small businesses can actually borrow from some of the big company tactics to start to create your own small business brand. Here are a few tips that can help your small business build your brand and show that you can be trusted to deliver for your customers:
1. Customers Want a Great Experience: What fantastic brand experiences have you encountered in your own life? I will give you three great ones that I have encountered first hand and each of those experiences grabbed me: Apple, Zappos and Las Vegas. Each of these evoke a certain experience. Apple with its fantastic user experience and product design, Zappos for outlandishly good customer service and Las Vegas for decadence, fun, and just letting loose. So the first thing your small business can do is treat your customers to an experience. What type of experience you may ask? I suggest that one of the best ways is go the Zappos route and passionately give customers the best treatment imaginable from beginning until end. That means working to anticipate your customer’s wants, needs and desires and making sure you beat their expectations. This is not an easy thing to execute on, but starting with a great customer experience in this day of such generally shoddy customer experience will help immediately to start distinguishing your small business from others.
2. Make Lasting Impressions With Each Customer Interaction😕 This actually takes the experience that we talked about in #1 above and breaks each experience down into interactions with your customers. A way of thinking about this is breaking down your customer’s touch points for your business from end to end. Now think about how you interact with your customers at every touch point from the first time they even hear about your business all the way through the browsing, decision making, research, purchase, fulfillment and even return of a product. This is literally determining how and when do customers for the very first time search for and then visit your website and then their experience from there with your business. For example, when is the first time a shopper may makes contact by calling your advertised phone number? Do they make email inquiries about your product or a meeting at a trade show? Is there a conversation over Twitter Once you have broken down each of these touch points for your business then you can go about ways to make every experience with your customers one that they will remember. If you can give special care to your customers at every interaction with your business that will greatly help you make an impression on that customer. That impression is what can help set your business apart from the branding noise. If your business can consistently find ways to go the extra mile to help make your customers life a little easier or happier, you have successfully made that positive impression. That impression then forms the beginning of your brand identity and image. That will help that image of your business to become imprinted on your customers? minds. You can even add your own touch to the Zappos approach by humanizing and personalizing these interactions with your customers. Try dropping the formality in your interactions with customers and instead actually have conversations with them about their wants, needs and how they use your product/service. This more humanized approach can help allow consumers to create their own connection and bond with your business in a much more personal way.
3. Help Your Customers & They Will Talk About Your Business: So if you make an impression (#2 above) and give customers a true and unique experience (#1), you have just successfully given your customers reasons to talk about your business, service or product. Keep in mind that when we are all at dinner parties or happy hours we like to talk about great (or bad!) experiences in life. And yes, if you give customers that unique feeling of having their expectations met and even beaten, they will end up talking about your business. In that way your customers suddenly turn into your brand messengers to potential customers and leads that are out in the community. The best example of this is Apple. For Apple product owners, the vast majority of us have taken the time to sing the praises of our Iphone, Ipad or experience at the Apple Store to friends, families and co-workers. If your small business can accomplish even a small part of that Apple magic, you can start winning the brand building game. That is why it is so important to do everything possible to help enable your customers to tell the world about the experience that they had when they interacted with your small business.
4. Keep Your Message and Customer Experience Consistent: When we watch bigger brands and they give off multiple messages, inconsistent messages and different customer experiences to individuals those brands lose. So you need to ask yourself does your business treat customers consistently? Is there a consistent message and approach with your product vs your website? How about your customer service is it very responsive over the phone, but slow or non-existent on Twitter and Facebook The key is to ensure that when customers interact with your business that they get consistent messaging, experience and impressions. Nothing is worse than mixed messages from a business to customers because that inevitably causes confusion, frustration and creates more questions. Though a cohesive and consistent brand is very challenging to create it is a must to build and grow a memorable small business brand.
In the end, despite the fact that small businesses lack large resources that major brands have at their disposal, small merchants still have the ability to build their own strong bands. However, the large monetary investment that big brands make is replaced with a huge human investment in time, effort, messaging and customer service for small businesses. When that human investment is properly deployed across all parts of a small business and customers get a consistent experience, a successful small business brand can take hold and blossom. The key way to start this process as a small business is taking a close look at all customer facing aspects of your business, your customers and the touch points and then developing a branding plan and executing on it.
These are just some of the ways to develop a great brand for your small business .Let us know if you have any tips in the comment below.