Regardless of the size of your business, “Brand Awareness” plays an important role when your customer segment makes a decision to buy. It’s utterly important that you understand and establish your brand “values”, what they are and how they relate to many areas. From product attributes to the less tangible aspects of your businesses reputation, such as good customer support to a top-notch web presence. By being able to communicate and establish the values of your brand, you establish how your product, your service, and your business is perceived by your customer segment and the marketplace.
Can A Small Business Use Branding?
ABSOLUTELY! You have to understand your own brand and what you want your brand to stand for and represent, since you will have a brand or corporate image in your market whether you like it or not! Smaller businesses increasingly compete with large, well-identified brands – in todays globally advanced society – so the objective of branding is to differentiate your business or product, to convey its unique attributes. Don’t be a secret agent. Be sure that your name, address, contact details, and logos are featured prominently on your Web site, catalogues, quotes, leader headers, even surveys, and packing slips.
How Important Are Brand Values?
Branding is often mistaken as pure customer marketing as a strict discipline. However, historical data indicates that B2B (Business-To-Business) purchasing is a complex process influenced by perceptions as much as by hard evidence on product/service performance.
How To Make It Happen – Identifying The Most Important Elements Of Your Brand
The most important attributes of a business brand will include the following:
- fitness for purpose – is it the best at what it does?
- value proposition – does it solve a particular problem or make a customer pain go away?
- value for the money – if not offered at the lowest price, does it represent a good deal compared to the competition, even if it isn’t better?
- quality – is it better built or better managed?
- extended market presence – does the brand work in many related markets?
- business stability – does the brand come from a stable company with a reliable history?
- proven product/service – is the brand associated with a successful track record?
- future investment in product development – is ongoing innovation important?
Find Out What Is Important To Your Customer
Although the above noted brand values can be applied to business products/services in general terms, it’s utterly vital to understand how your customer segment rank those values. What you may think is important, may be irrelevant to the customer.
Talk To Customers
This is the easiest and most common sense way to find out what your customer segments value, but be careful not to talk exclusively about the physical benefits of a product/service. There will be specific aspects of the product/service that is most important to the customer. Be sure to ask “open-ended” questions about the competition for example:
- Who else have you looked at?
- What do you think of them?
- What is their biggest strength or weakness?
- What do other people who you know think of them?
Conduct Customer Surveys (nPS – Net Promoter Score)
In order to identify what your customers consider important, conduct a survey; if your budget allows for it, this should be done through a third-party research company so that respondents feel that the survey is independent. It should ask respondents how they rank the different brand values, and how they believe your company and a number of its competitors compare across these values.
Review Industry Trends
When you are trying to do a million things at once, as most small business owners do, keeping on top of Web sites and publications relevant to your industry can be difficult, but is absolutely essential. Spending a few hours each week (45 Minutes A Day) finding out about new developments, trends, product ideas, and so on can be both energizing and helpful. Industry associations and publishers also produce surveys into the buying behavior in their industry sector, and these can highlight issues that can impact or be of concern to the whole industry.
Communicate Through All Channels
Advertising and marketing communications are the most important media channels for raising “Brand Awareness”. However, there are specific direct and indirect channels within the 113 various marketing channels that are specific to your industry and customer segments including:
- products – the design and brand symbolism can convey tremendous brand values;
- services – the way you deal with customers can demonstrate your commitment to your customers and their specific needs;
- packaging – can carry messages regarding your brand;
- distribution facilities – can give an impression of your approach and values;
- Web Sites – must be consistent with your key brand values;
- Customer Service Facilities – must deliver on the “Brand Promise” whatever it may be
Assess Your Branding
Does your product/service communicate your key brand values? The most important values are listed above, but brand values extend to the very core of your business and the ultimate customer experience.
If your nPS (Net Promoter Scores) are consistently low and the data illustrates a poor perception, or if your customers are not aware of your strengths, you must take a closer look at your product/service development programs. Also review the communications with your customers to see how the customers perceive the image of your brand.
Build Brand Values through Your Website – Social Media Content
An effective e-commerce Web Site and Social Media Platforms is one in which various technical and design aspects all work together to drive traffic and create customer interest, build trust, communicate product/service value, and support convenient profitable transactions. Even if you don’t sell directly from your Web Site, Facebook, the key is that your customers must feel they have gained something from the visit that exceeds the “cost” (even if only in time) of visiting the platform.
Monitor The Levels Of Your Brands Awareness
Customer perceptions are their reality, and change over time if you do not plan for and make the efforts of influencing your customer’s perception of your brand. Continuous research and ongoing nPS (Net Promoter Score) efforts must be committed to and maintained in order to be continuously aware of your customer segments attitude toward your brand. This type of research is known as tracking research, and it helps to measure the effectiveness of brand communications programs.
Smith Gruppe as a “Certified Inbound Marketing” company can help with conducting A/B Testing Models to clarify whether or not your small business has any degree of “Brand Awareness”, call us 980-221-9377 or contact us at info@SmithGruppe.com today for assistance and guidance in this matter.
Failing To Monitor Customer Perceptions
As stated before, continuous research and ongoing efforts is critical. The small business owner mus know how the business is perceived by its customer segments so that you can plan for and position the way your brand is presented to the marketplace in the future.
Overlooking Customer Segment Preferences
Industry research may provide a broad view of brand values that are important to the overall customer segment. However, it is urgent to understand how individual customers – specifically your most important customers – rank individual values. This is of the utmost importance if your small business serves a niche market. The only way that this can be achieved is continuous research and an attentive ear to the ” Voice Of The Customer”.
Ignoring Communication Channels
Brand values are communicated through a myriad of channels, not just advertising, marketing or social media. Customer Segment attitudes and perceptions are shaped and formed by customer service, customer support, distribution channels as well as many other factors.
Be absolutely certain that every aspect of customer interface reflects your “Brand Values” and those most important to your customer segment!
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