How can I compete with larger, pre-existing brands?
That’s a question that pretty much every business owner will ask themselves at some point, and fair enough, it’s a good question. You're already comfortable with your the significance of your digital presence, if not, check out our last post where you can find out what your digital presence is.This blog post is going to focus specifically on how, as a small to medium business owner, you can build your brand so that it can stand shoulder to shoulder with the larger brands.
Building your brand starts with your audience. Knowing your audience in depth will allow you to build a brand that they are going to love, and that they will become champions for. It is popular opinion that the best form of marketing is word-of-mouth, and it’s your audience and customers that will do do this for you, FOR FREE! You can see how important it’s going to be to get to know your audience well. How do I understand who my audience is? There are many ways of analysing your business to determine who they are and what their interests are but the best place to start is simply by speaking to them. Once you’ve got that little barrier out of the way, analyse the data at your disposal. Google has a suite of tools just waiting for you to take advantage of. Google Analytics is an unparalleled tool for analysis of your website visitors. ith this you can see how each user, at a granular level, is interacting with your business on a digital level. Google Trends and Google Insights for Search are also really powerful options for you to choose from. Send surveys, speak to your customers and analyse the data you already have access to. Build a profile of your target audience - Personas - and understand what motivates that person to take action, make a purchase, sign up to your blog etc.
If you’re business has a physical location and isn’t solely on the web then you have a great, emotive tool that is growing in popularity year on year. As more established brands have become bigger they have expanded into territories across the globe that they have no affinity with. Everyday consumers are more and more feeling inclined to shop local, keeping their local economy going and supporting local businesses and brands. This is a growing trend and even more so it appears to be the sentiment with the imminent exit from Europe. As a local business owner you know the geography, you know the local supply and you can very easily find out what local people want. Utilise your locality and market to the conscientious consumer who wants to support local business, advertise to on social media where you can target certain types of people in a very location specific area and play to their ethical values of keeping things within the community and keeping things local. You can always go one step further and re-invest in your local community. Humans have a very reciprocal nature eg ‘you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours’ or on an even more sinister level ‘an eye for an eye’ - reciprocation is programmed into us and you can take advantage of that with some reciprocation marketing - give back to the community, publically, and you will see that the community will give back to you. If you’re a village business then organise a village tidy and litter pick, supplying the tools and refreshments required and sponsor it as your business. If you’re an inner city business how about starting a pay forward scheme where you offer customers the opportunity of supporting people who can’t afford their products by pre-paying for someone - and you can match each prepayment if it is economically viable. If you’re a tradesman offer to do do repair work for free on other local businesses and make it public by posting about it on social media and asking the other business to share it too. It might sounds like you’re doing unnecessary work for free here but there are unseen rewards to this kind of activity that significantly improve the perception of your business in the public's mind. It doesn’t have to be grand, just consistent.
One of the main reasons why the big brands are as massive as they are is down to the strict guidelines they employ. Big brands set rules that need to be followed even down the the exact colour code that must always be used. You need to be as strict with your own brand as these bigger brands - If you are producing marketing material make sure the correct colour scheme is used, the logo is up to date and sizing and positioning is all correct. Slight changes to how you market your brand can be confusing to consumers, there’s nothing wrong with being predictable in this aspect, it’s beneficial to be so. When you have your logo designed consider all aspects of how it will look on all devices and on several different coloured backgrounds and mediums which it might be displayed upon. Be sure that you can keep the logo the same or with minimal change so that marketing your brand is consistent. Consumers appreciate consistency and are often frustrated by change, which leads me on to...
There is nothing more frustrating that the local pizza place that is hit and miss with their pizzas. You can relate to this I’m sure, if not with pizza then definitely with takeaways in general but do you know who is consistent? McDonalds, KFC, Burger King - the big guys. They understand the importance of ensuring that when someone enjoys your product, they want that same level of enjoyment every time and you do that by being consistent. This can relate to every form of business whether you offer a service or a product. Set your standards high, provide a great service with exceptional aftercare and keep it consistent. Do this over and over with all your customers and this is how you will establish a long line of brand champions that constantly talk about your brand and do your word-of-mouth marketing for you. The power of word-of-mouth marketing id phenomenal - you only have to spend 10 minutes on Facebook to find a ‘Does anyone know a good plumber?’ followed by multiple tags of businesses from friends. You won’t get to this level by being hit and miss. Consistency is key.
These are the four core areas that small to medium businesses should focus their attention of if they are serious about building a brand. Brand loyalty isn’t something that is dying despite what the media might say. You have a huge spectrum of tools and opportunities to take advantage of that will see your brand grow and establish itself as a serious contender.