Is it possible to spend your way to branding success? If you’re a huge fast moving consumer goods company, the answer is “maybe.” As a small business, it’s an unequivocal “no.”
Branding involves building an ongoing relationship with your customers and prospects. In most cases, your target market cannot be strong-armed into engaging your business through the water boarding of marketing impressions and in-your-face advertising.
Each year, a market research firm releases the results of a survey on memorable product launches. A recent survey showed that the Wii Fit was 2008’s most memorable launch; yet only 22% of respondents were able to cite the Wii Fit. An amazing 69% could not remember a new product launch last year. Not a single new product! But wait; ad spending continues to rise. The noise level in the marketplace is deafening. What’s going on here and what’s the lesson for small businesses?
First, the big multinationals can often afford to throw around scads of cash in an attempt to grab market share. And sometimes it even works.
But, you say, you don’t have $60 million to throw at launching new brands and supporting your current brand portfolio? Welcome to the club!
For small businesses that don’t have the resources of a Kraft Foods or P&G, branding is much less about spending money and more about “blocking and tackling”-the fundamentals that will advance your brand in your target marketplace.
So, how do you get the biggest branding bang for the smallest branding buck? Here are four fundamentals that will help your brand establish further footholds in your market and increase awareness of your products and services without breaking the bank.
1) Know your brand
If you can’t say, right now, without digging through some documents on your desk or pulling your brochure out of a file drawer, exactly what your brand essence is-the one thing that makes your business different and relevant to your target market-you have some work to do. Once you know what your brand stands for, LIVE IT! Incorporate your brand promise into every customer touch point and into everything your business is and does.
2) Focus on your customer
Know who your customer is and know how your brand will resonate with your target market. If you know your brand persona, you’ll have a better idea of how to engage your customer and provide the products, services, and support that THEY need.
3) Be consistent, be patient
Successful brands are not built overnight. As a small business, you don’t have $60 million to throw at a new product launch, but you can develop a long-term perspective. Be the same company a year from now as you are today. That doesn’t mean your business can’t grow, adapt, change, and adjust. It DOES mean portraying a consistent face-and promise-to your target marketplace. Your marketing efforts will yield better results when cultivated over a period of time. This takes patience but the return on investment will be worth it.
4) Integration is key
Marketing organizations that integrate their brand essence into everything they do-press releases, ads, web sites, brochures, packaging, logo, tagline, employee communications, and more-can exponentially leverage their efforts. Make sure that you dramatize your key benefit and link it directly to your brand, then integrate your value proposition into all your marketing communications.
Branding for your small business in NOT about spending more money to create brand awareness. It’s about practicing the fundamentals. Review your marketing communications efforts. Do you really know your brand? Are you focused on your customer? Are your marketing and communication consistent? Have you integrated your brand essence into everything you do?