A brand is the combination of recognition and perceived value. In a crowded marketplace, the difference between a business and a brand is that of an option and a preference. By getting specific, you can go from perennially ‘one of many’ to a customer’s top pick.
Here are four simple steps to go from fresh face to fan favorite. And it starts with knowing your market.
What do you do well?
Do you have more than one product or service? Do you need more than one product or service? Specificity is one of the best and most powerful assets of any business.
Intuitively, you may think that mass appeal means success. But even Apple hovers around 50% market share, which leaves the other half of consumers without a tether to an iPhone. But Apple didn’t seek to be a dominant force, they looked for a particular customer who would align with their ideals on function, design and lifestyle.
They wanted a consumer that could identify as the brand, not just purchase it. Likewise, small business owners should dig into the details about their customers.
Review and refine your target.
If you don’t have customers, then you don’t have a business. If new leads are low and conversions are taking a dip, make sure your copy, content and offerings are speaking directly to the right person and in the right way.
Set up focus groups or follow-up calls with those who have already purchased to gain insight on everything from colors and font to packaging and shipping. Their feedback may even expose demand for an extension of your core offering or an expansion of your product line.
Segment and split test for ease of navigation and functionality. And, most of all, be ready (and willing) to overhaul and replace what’s not working to keep your brand fresh and relevant. You’re pursuing the ever elusive product/market fit.
If you want things flying off the shelves then you have to be selling to those who are aware of their need for your product. Building awareness or “creating demand”, is what marketing is all about.
Create cohesive marketing collateral.
There are so many facets of the customer experience. One key is your visual representation. If I click from your website to your social media page, is there a shift in the content style and display?
Repetition and consistency are allies for building brand recognition. Again, you want to be first choice. Unless your product is a complete game changer, you’re likely competing with other companies that can produce the same thing in the same time frame for around the same price.
So, how do you differentiate? Figure out your message. That goes back to your target profile. How much do you know about your ideal customer? How much do you know about your current customer? See where those intersect and choose evidence over ideals.
Adjust to what will get you repeat business to bring consistent cash flow and then budget out some funds to experiment with what can bring in new leads consistently.
Refresh your elevator pitch.
As a brand manager or business owner, effectively communicating your company vision prepares you for industry conferences, networking events, potential collaborations or even outside investment. You never want to squander an opportunity to make an impression.
Think of it as a verbal business card: give all the pertinent information but leave room to follow up. This allows you to sell offline as well, or at least gain interest.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Thierry Augustin is a digital brand strategist based in New York City. He helps growing business strengthen their brand and target their audience to be more effective in the online marketplace. Connect with @taugustin_ on Twitter.