Goal #4: Branding
Whether you’re a small mom-and-pop shop or an established national retailer, your brand says a lot about you. From the consumer perspective, your brand is synonymous with your image and reputation. The important thing to keep in mind is that your brand is being cultivated in the marketplace with or without you. Brand longevity and sustainability are directly related to the consistency of your message, so representing your business effectively both internally and externally are critical. The core ingredient of the most successful brands in the market, big or small, is trust. If consumers trust your brand and your message, it will survive and flourish.
Less than five years ago, marketing research suggested that it takes at least seven points of contact with a consumer before they remember your brand. These days, the touch-points required is now closer to 13, and more important than the quantity is the quality of contact.
Branding is easy if you have a limitless budget, but that’s not the reality for most small and medium businesses (SMBs). Branding remains an important marketing objective, but many businesses are too focused on blasting their brand into the marketplace without thinking about a lead-generating, revenue-based strategy. Once your business has a steady revenue stream, then you can start branding more consistently. One of the most common pitfalls of brand campaigns is branding too early and to the wrong target, which can result in a monetary loss. For an SMB, this kind of loss can seize advertising momentum entirely.
Instead of diving in recklessly, start with first things first—know your ideal customer. With a plethora of marketing mediums to consider, knowing your key customer demographics saves wasted time and money. When media now ranges from print yellow pages and newspapers to search engines, social media platforms, and mobile devices, knowing who your customers are and where they are is more important than ever. Where are they? How do they spend their time? Which media do they use? Are they digital natives or are they traditional media users? Once you know the answers to these questions, you will be better positioned to effectively brand your business.
Your brand strategy should be targeted but not isolated. A good branding strategy engages multiple media with a consistent, clearly defined message. Keep your eye on the overall business objective, mission, and target customer. And don’t be afraid to be vain. It’s your business—grow it!