Branding isn’t a privilege granted to large companies with big budgets. However, small businesses can also use branding strategies to thrive in a saturated market.
Competing in a crowded marketplace is becoming more complex. Competitive pressure is at an all-time high. Thanks to the Internet, consumers have more buying choices than ever. The sheer number of online businesses makes it challenging to communicate your unique value.
A branding strategy can help your organization overcome these obstacles.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What branding strategies are
- How to generate more interest in your business with branding strategies
- Why putting the customer first isn’t always the best idea
- Five branding strategies you can start using today to grow your small business
What Are Branding Strategies?
A branding strategy is a detailed plan for “positioning” your business in its industry. This position will dictate how consumers perceive your company, products, and services.
Here are some examples of marketplace positions:
- Cost-efficient or economy
- Fast delivery
- A niche solution for a specific target audience
Some businesses use branding to create their position, but not all do. Those that don’t still occupy a place in the minds of consumers. Having a branding strategy allows you to take control over how people see your business.
A branding strategy better connects your business with the right kinds of customers. For example, you’re more likely to find repeat buyers and encounter less price pressure.
A brand strategy also helps you stay top of mind. Awareness increases the chance that people will remember you when they are ready to buy.
Successful branding strategies start with building a brand identity. This identity is like that of a human being. People who think alike or share commonalities are more likely to connect. The same is true for
brands and their customers.
Harley Davidson is an excellent example of a powerful brand identity. Their customers are passionate about the Harley-Davidson brand. As a result, most of them would never consider buying from a competitor.
There is another reason to have a branding strategy, and it’s the one business owners care about most:
Branding influences more people to buy your stuff.
By generating more demand and less competition for what you do or sell.
It may also be possible to charge more for your offer. People will pay more for something if they believe its value exceeds the price. The key is to focus on perceived value rather than actual.
This is critical because value itself is subjective. You and I can buy the same item for different reasons. I may value something that you don’t care about at all, and vice versa.
The key to a successful branding strategy is to create higher perceived value for your offer. To do this, focus on the features and benefits your target audience cares about most. Then create a link that bridges the gap between what your customers want and your product or service.
For example, let’s assume you’re a business accountant. Of course, you could offer discounts on early filings and sell your services at lower prices to compete. But, on the other hand, you could leverage something business owners care about to get their attention.
Did you know that simply filing a Schedule C could trigger an IRS audit? Yet, self-employed businesspeople must file one, which puts them all at risk. So, you could advertise that your accounting firm has a unique review process for its clients that reduce the chances of an audit while maximizing deductions.
This strategy leverages the target customer’s desire (maximum deductions with minimal risk of an audit) as a selling point instead of price.
The last component of a branding strategy is to send the right message to the right people. Selling to the wrong audience is a costly mistake and will drain your energy.
The Prosperity Intersection
The right target audience is the key ingredient of successful branding strategies. But unfortunately, many businesses spend a lot of time and money marketing to the wrong customers.
The desire to help people is a noble quality. But customers who want discounts or make unreasonable time demands are rarely ever worth the profit. In fact, these customers can demotivate you. And if you aren’t careful, they’ll have you thinking that what you sell has no value at all.
Putting the customer first is not always the right thing to do. But making the right customers a top priority will always lead to a happy, profitable business venture.
Of course, you can’t go after the right target market until you know who they are. To find out, interview, or survey your best customers. These are the people you enjoy working with most. They’re also the ones that listen to your recommendations and pay on time.
Make notes of similarities, interests, hobbies, and other companies these customers buy from. The goal is to determine how they define value. Then, you can use that information to generate more customers that align
with your brand.
These questions will help you in this step:
- What problems do your target customers have that you can solve?
- What do they want life to be like?
- Where do they want to go?
- What other types of products and services do they buy, and why do they buy them?
Considering our customers’ needs and desires is only half of the success equation. You must also consider your business goals.
Successful brands find a link between their business goals and the customers they want. Then, they create a brand strategy that aligns with both.
I refer to this customer-business link as the Prosperity Intersection.
Branding Strategies in Action
Now, we’ll explore five branding strategies you can use to help your business become more competitive. Start with one that resonates with you and master it first. Then, you can add others later.
Some marketing professionals think brand awareness is a waste of money. They believe this strategy only works for big brands with millions to spend.
But let me ask you this: Does every prospect buy from you when they meet you for the first time?
I’ll venture a guess and say they don’t. And if a prospect doesn’t buy, you need to stay top-of-mind because one day they might. Otherwise, you could be wasting an opportunity. Brand awareness helps you stay top-of-mind, so when people need what you sell, they will think of you first.
While the number varies, research shows it takes eight touchpoints to make a sale. A touchpoint is defined as any engagement a prospective customer has with your brand. Of course, the number of touchpoints required to make a sale will depend on where the individual is in the buying cycle. But it’s safe to presume that most people will not buy on first contact—or the second.
Many business owners give up on a prospect after a couple of contacts and move on to look for new leads. But they’re leaving a lot of revenue on the table because they aren’t maximizing opportunities.
Just because someone isn’t ready to buy from you now does not mean they never will.
A Product or Service Can Be a Brand Too
A brand can be more than a person or a company. Some products have so much brand power that their name represents an entire category.
Prominent examples of this are Band-Aid and Kleenex. How many times have you heard someone ask for a Kleenex or a Band-Aid by name? Yet, there are many other bandages and tissues on the market.
Clients that sell physical products often ask me if they should brand the product or their business. The answer is relatively straightforward. If the audience is more aware of your product than your business, consider branding the product first.
However, I recommend talking with a brand strategist first because the final decision depends on your long-term goals.
Taking a Stand
Standing up for something you believe in can be a powerful branding strategy. If you’re passionate about a cause, organization, or lifestyle, this may be an option for you.
An individual or business can gather an audience quickly with this strategy. Examples are “influencers” or popular company brands that speak out on specific topics.
But this strategy comes with risk. You might attract a large following, but you may also offend or alienate others. For that reason, proceed with caution. Never be controversial for the sake of getting attention.
The personal branding strategy is popular in the current marketing environment. Consumers want to buy from businesses and people they connect with. It’s easier to connect with a human being who already has an identity than create an identity for a business.
Incorporating elements of your personal style into your marketing plan will attract like-minded people.
The personal branding strategy works well if you’re comfortable in the spotlight. However, this strategy has its pros and cons. If you’re uncomfortable getting attention or answering critics, it will come
across in your branding and marketing messages.
Use Multiple Channels
It’s easy to get comfortable with one or two marketing tactics. For example, you may prefer social media, email marketing, or networking events. But the best marketing strategy takes advantage of several
Consistency is crucial for branding strategies to be successful. You must show up every day and repeat the same messages again and again. Though you may get bored repeating your message, remember that most
people will be hearing it for the first time.
Research shows that consistent branding strategies can increase revenue by 20%.
This number will continue to rise. As a result, small businesses that use branding strategies to grow will hold a distinct competitive advantage over competitors that don’t.
Branding strategies are a powerful way to promote and grow your business. They also foster strong connections with prospects and help you stay top-of-mind.
People buy from businesses they know, like, and trust. Branding strategies help you attract the right customers and communicate your unique value.
Which of the five branding strategies I described above resonates with you? Start implementing it right now. The sooner you begin, the quicker you’ll see results.
As always, I’m here to help. If you have questions, email me personally at email@example.com.
Until next time,