Small Business Marketing and Branding
Over the years as a small business owner, I've learned that marketing and branding are not one-size-fits-all. There's no "right" or "wrong" way to go about either of these things, but there are some fundamental principles that will help you get your message across in a way that's genuine and resonates with your customers. If you're just starting out with your own company, or looking to up your game in terms of how people perceive you, here are a few tips:
Marketing and branding are two sides of the same coin
Marketing and branding are two sides of the same coin. Marketing is the process of getting your product or service in front of the right people, while branding is what you do to create a unique identity for your product or service.
For example, if you were selling luxury cars, marketing would be getting your ads on television during prime time programs; branding would be creating an ad that features car racing enthusiasts driving their high-end vehicles through gorgeous scenery.
Get to know your customers
To develop a successful marketing strategy, you have to get to know your customers.
Understand their needs.
Understand their wants and expectations.
Understand their values, demographics, and psychographics as well; these are the factors that will help you determine what kind of content you need to create for each audience member in order to connect with them on a personal level.
Keep a consistent tone
Consistency is the key to building trust, brand recognition and loyalty. Consistency is also essential for building your brand's value.
On a website, you can use style guides to help maintain consistency throughout site content. This can be done by referencing examples of how you want certain terms or phrases written and then following it through with every piece of content on your site.
For example: If you are writing a blog post about why people should invest in small businesses, don't start off by saying "Investing in small businesses is..." instead write "Investing in small businesses is a great way..."
Use excellent, relevant photography
Great photography is a must. Using your own photography, instead of stock images, is a great way to tell your story and show off your products or team. You can also use it to show off your office space, work or even create an entire photoshoot!
If you don't have the budget for professional photos, there are plenty of free tools online that make it easy for anyone to take great looking photos (like Snapseed).
Use visual identity as storytelling
Visual identity is the way you tell your story. It’s the way you communicate your brand, values, personality and purpose. Visual identity is what makes people remember how you do business.
Think about it this way: If you were to describe yourself to a friend in one sentence (like on a dating app), what would that sentence be? And how would others know that there was more to get from you than just your name?
Make it easy for people to find you
The first step to improving your visibility is making sure your business is easy to find. You can do this by putting together an effective website, which should be as simple and intuitive as possible.
Make sure it’s easy to find the information people are looking for on your website. If you have a website with contact information, make sure they can find it in less than 3 seconds. If you have a list of services or products, make sure that each one has its own page so customers can easily browse them online.
It should also be easy for users to navigate around your site without any problems or confusion about what they should do next (if anything). This means using clear language that doesn’t distract from their experience with complicated jargon or technical terms (unless those are specifically related to what you do).
Make sure the design of the site makes sense with regard to its purpose—that it matches up with how people would expect things like navigation menus and footers would look on other sites similar in nature; otherwise customers may feel disoriented by their visit here instead of feeling confident about what kind services we offer them!
Do something unexpected in a positive way
You are most likely an expert at what you do. But when it comes to marketing your business, you have a lot of competition and many options. How do you stand out? Do something unexpected in a positive way.
A great example is the Starbucks Storytellers program. Starbucks invited people from all walks of life to share their stories and experiences with coffee through blogs, social media posts, videos, pictures and more. The end result was that hundreds of thousands of consumers were exposed to Starbucks' brand in an authentic way that was both interesting and helpful for them as customers; it also created lots of buzz about the brand!
You don't need millions of dollars or years worth of advertising experience to create something like this - just creativity, authenticity and consistency.
When things go wrong, apologize sincerely and offer a solution
When things go wrong, apologize sincerely and offer a solution.
If something goes wrong with your customers or you make a mistake in delivering their order, the best thing to do is apologize and fix the problem. The key here is sincerity and quick action. If you take too long to respond, they may feel like they've been ignored and will be less likely to come back again in the future.
For example, if you send out an email blast that doesn't contain all of the information it should have included (such as pricing), then immediately send another email explaining what happened, apologizing for your mistake, and offering them $10 off their next purchase if they mention this issue when placing their order over phone or email within 24 hours of receiving their first newsletter (or whatever else works for your business).
Don't be afraid to say 'no'
Be firm, but polite.
Don't be afraid to say no.
Don't be afraid to turn down opportunities and even clients. It's a good business practice not to take on every opportunity that comes your way.
You're the one in charge of your brand, so make sure you don't spread yourself too thin by saying yes when you should be saying no.
You can build your brand with small actions and big thinking
Small actions, big effects. The most successful small business brands are those who have taken actions that have built up to a substantial effect. They might have done this by:
starting with the basics - making sure their logo, fonts and colours are all on point;
building a community around them (think: blogging, email lists); and/or
putting together great products or services that can be marketed effectively (have you noticed how many podcasts there are nowadays?).
Building a brand is an important part of any business. Small businesses are no exception, and in fact they may have an advantage over large companies when it comes to creating a unique identity that connects with customers on a personal level.
At PHAT Marketing, we empower small business brands to realize their more significant purpose and build treasured relationships with the people who love them for it. Our consulting services are comprehensive and complete. We promise to deliver valuable insights that help shape your marketing strategy so you can reach the right people at the right time with the right message – all by staying true to who your brand truly is. Reach out to us today to see how we can help.