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Small Business Branding For Customer Loyalty
That's how Tom Varjan, a business marketing consultant in Vancouver, Canada, looks at it. Although a brand may include a logo, shapes and colors, he believes a brand is about a process that connects with the target market in a way that increases the brand’s chances of getting the customer to buy its products or services again and again. Branding’s goal, then, is to create customer loyalty.
“A cattle farmer has two options. He can work with an expensive designer to develop the world’s fanciest branding iron with fancy shapes, gold-plated titanium handle and ergonomic hand grip, which takes his attention away from growing top-notch cattle and producing top-notch beef,” he explains. “Or he can go to the local blacksmith and have a branding iron made with a simple emblem that differentiates his cattle from others’ cattle.”
A fancy brand doesn’t guarantee any one will buy mediocre beef. No mater how much time and effort the farmer invests to tout his fancy brand, customer admiration of a cute branding scheme won’t itself impact the farmer’s bottom line, especially if it’s followed up with a negative comment about the beef quality. The farmer’s main focus should be on improving his farming practices, hiring enthusiastic employees and enhancing slaughtering practices to improve the quality of the beef, Varjan says.
“The farmer wants people to spread the message that his beef is the best beef money can buy. People don’t care about the fanciness of the logo,” he argues. “They just enjoy the beef and spread the word about it.”
This example can be translated to any industry. The take away is that the primary focus should be on providing distinguishing and memorable service. Clients, he says, will create the brand perception and loyalty through the stories they tell each other. All the rebranding efforts in the world won’t pay dirt if a small business doesn’t offer a service about which customers speak favorably. A brand is an experience. You can go to a McDonald’s in any city in the world and know what to expect.
Shel Horowitz, author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, also views branding as customer experience. “Branding is not about the logo, the store colors, or the uniforms. It's about the customer experience, of which those surface things are one small part. It's about building trust as well as consistency, about being there for your customers,” he argues. “Those more superficial aspects of branding may help create an initial purchase, but after that, a second transaction will only happen if the customer feels that the product and the service met or surpassed expectations.”
‘Rich Dad’ Author Offers Entrepreneurs Unfair Advantage
As Kiyosaki sees it, jobs are no longer stable—so the only think you can really control is yourself. That’s why he wrote his latest title, “Unfair Advantage.” The book challenges people to stop being time card punchers and start becoming owners and investors; to reinvent career paths.
Unfair Advantage outlines Kiyosaki’s five insider tips to encourage entrepreneurs to build positive cash flow businesses through (1) knowledge, (2) taxes, (3) debt, (4) risk and (5) compensation. Kiyosaki is well aware of the Small Business Administration statistic that says half of new businesses fail within the first five years. He says, “I write this because I believe we need real financial education before the world economy can truly recover.”
Going against the flow, Kiyosaki speaks to all segments of the workforce, including the thousands of college graduates coming into the world work this year. He questions the wisdom that says, “get a job, work hard, get a 401k, and invest in a diversified portfolio of mutual funds.” Instead, Kiyosaki recommends becoming a business owner who generates jobs.
Whether you are graduating college or in your retirement years, Kiyosaki stresses that it’s never too late. Kiyosaki points to Colonel Sanders, who sold his recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 66 after getting 1,000 rejections. Need some ideas? Unfair Advantage offers a few. Kiyosaki cites entrepreneurial examples like leasing a luxury car, and then offering limo service a few nights a month to earn back the payment and generate a positive cash flow.
Drawing from the wisdom of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Kiyosaki says entrepreneurs can win by:
1. Learning to sell
2. Learning to invest via market trends, and
3. Learning to invest in real estate trends.
“The ability to sell is the most important skill of any entrepreneur,” Kiyosaki says. “The most important job of an entrepreneur is to raise money. I believe it is better to teach people to fish than to give people fish.”
Check out this video on the book:
Small Business Branding With Customer Service
Customers encounter your brand in numerous ways, including products, price, advertising and marketing, sales and customer service personnel. Glatstein argues that each of these contacts, or touch points, molds the customer’s impression of the brand. Customer service is where the brand promise is executed.
“Some of these touch points are obvious, like product performance, advertising, and sales staff. Other touch points, like billing practices, may be subtler in its brand affects. The organization must design a holistic customer experience that aligns with the brand promise,” Glatstein says.
The key to activating brand strategies is taking “what” an organization wants to do and defining “how” it is going to do it. Activating a brand, he says, ensures that every employee drives the promises made to the marketplace across every customer touch point every day.
You want your customers to have the best experience possible and walk away with a good feeling. How employees project themselves by their professionalism, attitude, and even what they wear represent the company is branding. The smile on the employees faces are just as important as the logo on the front door.
To be sure, small businesses need a great value proposition that depicts the value a consumer gets from renting from them, says Drew Stevens, PhD, author of Split Second Customer Service. That value proposition, he says, must be visible through corporate collateral and customer service techniques.
“Operators must constantly network and create techniques that attract customers to their business. Do not leave this to advertising,” Stevens says. “Referrals are wonderful for building a brand. Use the 25X30X50 rule to create referrals. Contact your 25 best clients once every 30 days and do not spend more than 50 dollars to connect and thank them.”
Cause Marketing 101: How Your Small Business Can Build a Compassionate Brand
But where do you start? By understanding what cause marketing is and how it best fits in with your small business marketing plans. I can help you with the first part. Also known as cause-related marketing, cause marketing is a strategic positioning and marketing discipline that links a company and its products and services to a social cause or issue.
A Cone/Roper study on cause marketing offers three key reasons for small businesses to get involved. First, when price and quality are equal, 76 percent of consumers say they would be likely to switch brand or retailer associated with a good cause. Next, more than 80 percent of Americans consumers say that they have a more positive opinion of a company that is doing something to make the world a better place. Finally, the primary reason companies engage in cause marketing is to build deeper relationships and trusts with consumers and to enhance the company's image.
Ventureneer is offering small businesses a leg up on launching a cause marketing campaign with a free webinar called “Cause Marketing: A Win-Win for Small Businesses and Nonprofits.” As Ventureneer sees it, the key to success is finding the right partner. That means small business owners should ask themselves three key questions:
- What cause meshes with your target market?
- What business represents the values of your organization?
- How can each partner ensure that the partnership will enhance its support and visibility?
You can catch the free hour-long webinar on Wednesday, May 18 at noon. You can expect to learn plenty, including:
- The buy-in needed within an organization before undertaking a cause marketing partnership
- How to decide if this partner represents the nonprofit's values
- How to decide if this partner matters to the client base of the business
- What motivates businesses to partner with a nonprofit
- How to determine the value of a nonprofit to the small business and vice versa
- The benefits of partnerships for small businesses and for nonprofits
- How to insure that both the nonprofit and the small business are satisfied with the outcome of the partnership
So whether this is the first time you’ve heard the term ‘cause marketing’ or you’ve been venturing into this realm without a fully understanding how to leverage your charitable work for branding purposes, be sure to check out this free webinar for some strategic insights that can help you help more people—and help you build your brand in a light that’s even more attractive to consumers.
If you can't make the webinar, check out this YouTube video for some a unique perspective on cause marketing:
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