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Small Business, Big Branding

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internet marketing branding
Branding your small business with a coherent look will increase your company’s customer awareness and recognition. Branding helps customers recognize your business and creates a level of comfort in the minds of potential buyers. This “mindset” is important to convert customers from leads to sales, during the buying process. From your storefront to your website, Facebook, Twitter or any other Web 2.0 property, your signage and business image should exhibit consistency. It is important to consider all of these factors when examining the your business branding and the thought process of your customers. A consistent look lets customers know, that you’re company is professional, organized and helps to send the message that this is a business that where they should be comfortable spending money.

Do your sales materials lack consistency? Do your brochures, white papers and advertisements represent your business in way you’d want them to? Or are they just a collection of literature you’ve accumulated over the years? It’s often hard to take a step back and examine your business with a fresh set of eyes. But sometimes, that’s just what you should do. Have someone look at your business and its associated literature that knows very little about it. Ask them some prepared questions and have the test subject attempt to accomplish very basic tasks. Ask questions like what am I selling, and how would you contact the business. You’ll be surprised at the answers.

In the world of web design and site management we call this form of evaluation, “usability testing”. We ask an outside consumer or target user in to the office, sit them down and ask them questions about the site. Usually we’ll pay them a couple bucks for their time. The answers and insights we get from this type of testing are invaluable and the same basic principals can be applied to your business.

When taking a look at your small business’s branding you should ask yourself a few questions too. Have you grown your business into a million dollar brand but still have a website that was designed by a teenager for a couple hundred bucks? Have you or your team had a good look at the elements that constitute your company’s brand? If it’s been a while, take a moment and look things over. Does your site design match the look and feel of your business? Are your brochures and other marketing materials of the same high quality that your business is? Does the exterior of your business give potential customers the impression you’re trying to covey? All of these elements lead potential buyers and existing customers to form judgments about your business before they’ve even set foot in your store or picked up the phone to talk to your firm. In this stagnate economy, when consumers are on shaky ground to begin with, you want them to form the right impression straight from the get go. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “you can’t judge a book by its cover”. We’d all like to believe that people for the most part keep an open mind and are not quick to judge. But unfortunately, that’s nearly ever the case. It’s very difficult to change a consumer’s opinion once they’ve formed one, but it is much easier to mold it their first interaction.

While excellent reviews and a high standard of customer service may make up for some branding drawbacks, it will not get your target customers banging down the door initially. It’s important to understand there are separate and distinct processes for customer acquisition and customer retention. Ask yourself, does your branding and marketing message represent the way I’d like my customers to think about my business?

An often disregarded but equally important aspect of small business branding is you, the business owner or manager. How do you represent yourself and your company to the consumer? How you communicate with customers as well as employees are all factors that help to create your business image. If you have a nonchalant attitude or are overly aggressive your employees will take notice and act that way too. Do you play the part of someone that you’d like to do business with? Take a few moments to examine your brand image because you, as the company figurehead, are the best representative of your brand.
With the variety of marketing opportunities available to today’s small businesses, there are more ways than ever to attract new clientele. Aggressive companies have even more ability to market their product or service to their existing customer base utilizing Social Media and Internet marketing. Your target market should be able to easily recognize and identify with your business, whether your customers are on the web or in your storefront. This “identity” should not be accomplished by name alone, but also through your business’s branding.

By building a high quality company image and consistently branding yourself across multiple marketing platforms, you’ll create a more unified, consistent representation of your business. Examine your business logo, signage, exterior, interior, social media sites, website, adverts and yourself as well. This will help brand your business in your customer’s eyes and lead to increased sales, lower customer attrition and increased consumer loyalty. Stand apart from your competition by creating a brand that leads industry rather then gets lost in the crowed.

109 Comments

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Small Business, Big Branding