By definition, you’re the little guy or gal, and you like it that way. You’re probably never going to be as famous as Coca-Cola, but what are some ways to make a name in your community and get your business the attention you know it deserves?
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1. Define Your Brand’s Value
You may do many of the same things your competitors do, but you certainly do some things differently. This is what makes your business unique and able to offer a specific kind of value to your customers.
So you need to codify what it is that sets you apart from the pack. Think about what you do faster, more personally, more carefully, or more cost effectively than your competition.
It’s best to get these ideas out of your head and actually write them down. Marty Neumeier of Liquid Brand Exchange suggests this fill-in-the-blank formula to get you started:
Our [fill in offering] is the only [fill in category] that [fill in benefit].
2. Build Your Brand by Building a Community
Today’s online tools offer an unprecedented opportunity for community building: You can interact and build rapport with existing customers while networking with potential new ones.
You should still work at community building offline as well as online. Hold customer appreciation events or free classes on using your products. Be a sponsor of a charity event you feel passionate about.
Online, it’s not the most important whether you decide to connect with your community through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or something else, as long as you know you’re on a platform that your customers use. It’s more important that once you set up your presence on a platform, you show up there consistently.
Monitor comments regularly and make sure you answer all your customers’ questions and concerns. It’s a good idea to get the fastest, most reliable internet connection you can. A fiber optic connection, or FiOS service, is today’s state-of-the-art option.
Cultivating a community both online and off builds name recognition for your brand and is often a catalyst for word of mouth referrals, one of the most effective forms of marketing.
3. Build Your Brand Bottom Up As Well As Top Down
Once you’ve built a community, it can be a useful resource for planning the way that your brand should develop. You can mine your social media comments for information about what you’re doing right and wrong. Frequently posed questions hold clues to the problems your customers are seeking solutions for.
While you don’t have the resources to do marketing research the way a big corporation does, you can pose your own questions about what customers like and dislike and want to see you offer in the future. Set up the occasional Facebook poll or even hand out paper surveys in person. Consider an incentive for answers, such as a special deal or contest entry.
Your community also includes your employees. Keep an ear out for what they have to say about customers’ questions and feelings. Consider their suggestions about improving business.
4. Refine Your Brand’s Message
Put your ideas about your value and competitive distinctions together with the information gleaned from your community, and refine the story and message of your brand.
Your message needs to be responsive to your customers’ needs. It needs to be a message you can explain in a few sentences. It should involve such things as your personalized customer service and your reliability as well as your products. It needs to be a consistent message that reinforces the same major points and business personality in your marketing materials, online, and in person.
5. Keep Your Brand’s Promise
Your brand rises to the next level when it lives up to its promises. Keep your products and service offerings at their highest levels always.
Be careful to formulate a brand promise that you know you will keep. Don’t just be the best salesperson, be the most reliable delivery person. Customers gravitate toward brands they feel have integrity. The best way to be perceived as honest is to do what you’ve said you will.
Defining what sets your brand apart, welcoming customer input, and consistently delivering on your brand’s promise will pay off in increased recognition of your name over time.