Think about your favorite brands—the coffee you crave each morning, the car company you trust, the shipping service you rely on for overnight deliveries.
What do those brands mean to you? Why are you loyal to them? Chances are it’s because (a) you feel you know them, and (b) you’ve consistently had good experiences with them, or you know others who have.
Now think about your own company, and how it’s perceived by your customers and prospects. What mental image do they associate with your brand? What qualities? If you aren’t sure, it’s time to focus your attention on creating awareness. And you can do it inexpensively. Here’s how:
Whether you’ve been in business for five years or fifty, a clear and consistent message is essential for building brand familiarity. That means identifying the difference you make that sets you apart from your competitors and communicate it effectively at every touchpoint. Always!
A good way to test the consistency of your messaging is to conduct a communications audit. First gather samples of all the printed materials associated with your brand—ads, brochures, flyers, catalogs, sales presentations, even business cards and letterhead—and print screen captures of your website, online advertising and e-newsletters. Spread them all out on the conference table and ask yourself:
Do the pieces have a similar look and feel?
Your customers should recognize at-a-glance your brand’s visual characteristics—on every communication you send. (That consistency should extend to your signage, tradeshow displays and outdoor advertising as well.)
Are we differentiating ourselves from competitors?
Your uniqueness should be obvious to customers and prospects alike. Aim for clear, simple and concise messaging, so they know who you are and how you make a difference in their lives.
Make your audit even more valuable by doing the same with competitors’ marketing materials. If you see too many similarities among the brands, you may need to sharpen your message or rethink your brand’s POD (point of differentiation). Revisit your WHY.
Understand Your Target Audience
Specifically, make sure you understand what they want, need and value so you can better focus your branding efforts. Services such as Survey Monkey make it easy to query different segments of your market to discover how best to relate to them. You can send surveys for FREE to a list of 500 or less. In past client surveys, we uncovered some surprising discoveries about what customers ACTUALLY valued most. This knowledge is then instrumental in changing your processes to deliver the kind of experience customers really want. A few tips for conducting an effective survey:
- Craft well-written questions for your survey
- Create specific lists of employees, customers and vendors
- Call ahead of time; let them know the survey’s coming
- Review the results with an open mind
- Use the info to revise your marketing strategy
Live Up to Your Brand Promise
This goes without saying, particularly when it comes to existing customers. But consider also your prospects, whose perceptions are based on both your brand messaging and the real-life experiences of industry colleagues who’ve done business with you.
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool and one that you have more control over than you might think. Make sure everyone in your organization understands your brand’s uniqueness and the message you’re trying to convey. Stress the importance of consistently delivering a good customer experience, so you’re not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.
Remember, YOU CAN understand your target audience, live up to your brand promise and be consistent without breaking the bank. These steps are inexpensive and extremely effective in creating brand awareness. Fully living up to your brand promise? Felt can help.