How to Stand Out in an Ocean of Competition
Branding isn't only for multi-million-dollar corporations with big budgets. It's even more important for small businesses.
According to this data, there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States.
How are you going to set your business apart from all the others that do what you do?
This is one of the biggest challenges business owners face. It’s also why branding is more important than ever.
In this article you will learn:
- how branding can help a small business thrive in the marketplace
- what a brand identity is and how to create one for your business
- keys to branding success
Will They Remember You?
Many small businesses use the same tactics to get new customers.
Attending events and trade shows.
Social media posts and a few ads.
These are the most natural and reliable ways to look for leads. But there is only one problem.
Most of the people you meet won’t be ready to buy from you. On average, eighty percent (80%) of prospects say no four times before they say yes.
That means you have a lot of follow-up to do. In the meantime, you must stay top-of-mind so that when they are ready to talk, they will think of you first.
Branding your business helps you stay top-of-mind. It makes you more memorable. It also reduces time wasted on unqualified leads and attracts better ones.
It’s one of the most powerful ways to grab attention and connect with your audience.
Let me give you something to think about.
Consumers have more choices than ever before. Whether you live in a big city or a small town, people can go almost anywhere to get what you sell.
Telling people “I do good work and provide great service” won’t convince them to buy. Why?
Because your competitors are telling them that too.
Instead, you must make it evident that you’re different.
But that’s easier said than done.
People are skeptical and cynical. They have heard it all before. For this reason, many marketing tactics don’t work as well as they once did.
If you’re using a marketing “system” or looking for the latest growth “hacks”, you may end up disappointed. What works for someone else won’t always work for you.
It’s easy to waste a lot of time and money mimicking others. You must find what works for you.
So, stop trying to convince people to buy. Quit searching for magic bullets. Instead, show people why your product or service is the best option on the market.
If that is what you want to do, the rest of this article will be invaluable. I’ll show you how to brand a small business and get results.
Let’s get started.
READ MORE: What Is Branding and Why Is It Important?
Who Are You?
Branding helps you create an identity for your business.
Having a brand identity brings your business to life and makes it unique. This is important because people want more from you than big promises and a catchy slogan. They buy from people and companies they know, like, and trust.
But they need an identity to connect with before they can do this. This process is the same for developing any relationship.
Your brand identity also includes your company’s purpose and the group of people it serves. This helps customers understand where and how your business fits into the marketplace.
The same concepts are true for personal branding.
A company is like a human being. How?
Like people, businesses have unique appearances. A logo, color scheme, fonts, and other images give a business its visual appearance.
Businesses have their own “voice”. The language and tone used in all brand communication will establish your voice. This voice could be authoritative, friendly, casual, formal, etc.
A business has preferences. A business may associate with others like it or stay away from those that don’t share its philosophies. This often comes through in strategic alliances and partnerships.
A business gets along better with some than others. Most businesses have specific types of customers they serve better than others. Some people will love the business, others may not.
Like people, businesses have status and class. This is an unfortunate reality of life but an accurate one. Like human beings, businesses may be seen as rich, poor, elite, or ordinary.
No matter how you want people to see you, there are strategies and tactics you must use to create that image.
Images make a powerful impression. That is why all visual representations of your brand should align with the image you want to create. Of course, this includes your logo but extends to any visual associated with your brand.
It takes approximately five to seven impressions for people to remember a brand. Yet, color improves brand recognition by 80%. The colors you choose make a difference.
This article gives several examples of how color influences sales conversions. This strategy isn’t only for large companies with millions to burn on marketing. It works just as well for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Creating a visual identity that aligns with how you want to be perceived directly influences the type of customers you attract.
Brand Voice and Tone
Once you know who your target customers are, you need to customize your business’s tone and voice. Your business communication (also called brand communication), should be consistent with your brand identity.
To clarify, think of voice as the expression of words and messages. Some brand voices are formal and sophisticated, while others are warm and casual.
For instance, if you’re a mortgage lender, the heading on your website might read, “We make every effort to provide the best financing solutions available.”
This is a formal voice.
But if you wanted to communicate in a casual voice, it could read, “We’ll get you the best rate—period!”
Similar statements expressed much differently.
Tone can fluctuate, depending on the message and who you’re targeting. For instance, you may find empathy works well for ads. But an authoritative tone could be better for blog posts.
Who Is Your Customer?
You can’t be all things to all people. That’s why you need a profile of your ideal customer. These are the people you prefer to work with above all others.
While “ideal” customers are hard to find, having an ideal client profile keeps you looking for the best prospects.
Get specific. As you think of your ideal customer, list everything that comes to mind. Use this information to create a mental picture of the person. How would you communicate with them? Where can you find them?
If you have never done this before, it may seem like you’re guessing at who your ideal customer is. Don’t worry. This profile will evolve as your business evolves.
You may discover that you can’t serve your ideal customer now. If that is the case, determine what new products and services you need to develop so you can.
Where are your customers?
Most small businesses spend too much time guessing where their prospects are. And even when they know, they cast a net that is too wide. Both approaches result in overspending on marketing and advertising.
Branding a small business relies on promotion—a lot of it. The key question to ask in this step is, “Where are my prospective customers?” The more specific you are, the more successful your marketing will be. You will also spend less to find them.
Preparation separates great brand marketing from bad. Each time you come up with an for idea promoting your business, make sure it aligns with your brand. This system of “checks and balances” removes much of the guesswork.
Times have changed. Two out of three people want to buy from companies they feel a connection to.
Consumers want companies and salespeople to care about more than just making money. This number will continue to grow in the years to come.
Let’s face it. When it comes right down to it, businesses must make a profit or their doors won’t be open long. And even though people love to buy, they hate the sales process. But many business owners want to skip to the sale before building the connection.
The businesses that will thrive are the ones that make the connection first, sell second.
As I mentioned earlier that people are more skeptical and cynical than ever before. They also have more information available to them than at any other time in history. Consumers hold the buying power and they know it.
Your brand communication and content marketing should develop a connection with prospective customers. This is even true for ads. Look for every opportunity to build a relationship with your audience.
Whether it’s going to the gym, eating healthy, or managing our emotions, consistency is a challenge for most of us. Yet we know it often separates success from failure.
This is true for branding as well. While there is some debate over how many “touches” it takes to close a sale, it’s almost always more than one.
You never know how many people who come into contact with your business today will be seeing it for the first time. Even if you have been repeating the same messages again and again, it will be new for many people.
Don’t get complacent. Keep sending the same message over and over. As time passes, more people will hear it which means you’ll be making more impressions and contacts. Before you know it, you will be making more sales too.
Branding your small business will help you stand out, get noticed, and win more sales. It will give you an advantage over your competitors because they probably aren’t doing it.
Focus on what your business does and who it serves. Develop a brand identity that aligns with the target market you want to reach. Explore your ideal client profile and focus on connecting with them.
If you have questions, email me personally at [email protected].
Until next time,
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