The New Brand Benefit

bowIn a lot of ways starting a business and giving birth to a new brand can be an exciting process. No one knows who you are yet, so they have nothing to build an opinion on. On the other hand, since there is no formal introduction yet, everything about you is essentially rumour at this stage. A good place to start your brand is PR. Having a basic introductory website, and a weekly update to media, will help build interest and keep your information factual.
Any contact with suppliers and potential customers should alway be cordial. How you treat any contact at this initial stage, could set the tone of your new brand. Determine how you would like to be perceived and then strategize as to how you might influence this. Developing a positioning strategy that makes you the leader or the best at something will give your new brand resonance with your market. The worst thing you could do, is “follow the leader.” In doing this your brand offers nothing to the marketplace. Why bother existing at all? Every decision you make should assist in differentiating your new brand.
In discovering your difference, your launch can be exciting. You could be on your way to building a remarkable brand. Dream big! Don’t strive to be one of the best – strive to be the best. Just delivering good customer service isn’t enough – deliver the best service. Discover ways to over-deliver. Never forget that every thing you do affects the success of your brand. Don’t take designing your brand image lightly. An amateur attempt just reflects back on you. I’ve known some small businesses who took more interest in their decor than their brand image. Ultimately this shows in their success or lack there of.
Another important strategy is to build your “expert profile.” Your expert profile is your customer’s perception of your level of expertise. I typically recommend using Linkedin as a good start. Bringing your profile as close to 100% is a great way to get a handle on your level of expertise. Next round it out with a Facebook business page. But, I think that the number one activity that defines your expertise better than anything is blogging. It allows you to actively put your opinion out for all to see. With blogging the trick is to give away valuable information. It’s a lot of effort but the rewards over time can be extraordinary. I’ve not only gotten leads from blogging but press interviews and unique opportunities.
Your brand is in your hands. Ignore it and the competition will step up to define you. Own it, live it and strive from it.

The Power of Anecdotal Differentiation

What sounds better during a sales pitch:

1. We help businesses improve their bottom line.
2. We helped XYZ company increase revenue by 19%.

Quantifiable_TestimonialsObviously number 2 is the clear choice, and the reason is because it includes quantifiable data that validates the value the company claims, which helps differentiate the company and its offerings. This type of anecdotal differentiation comes in many flavors, regardless of the type of organization you run, e.g.:

A. Tree removal company – We helped ABC park district remove 26 trees so it could finish its new park on time.

B. Law firm – AAA Law Firm saved BBB company $457,000 in erroneous liability claims.

C. Technology company – Our ABC product increased staff productivity by 26% within the first three months following installation.

D. Ice cream shop – Eight out of every 10 of our customers surveyed state they would gladly refer a friend or family member to our shop because of the taste, variety of flavors and cost of our ice cream.

E. Insurance company – Following Hurrican Sandy, we helped 45,000 people in the Northeast rebuild their homes will full replacement value payouts.

F. Tire company – We helped John Smith and his family save $145 (versus the competition) on their set of new tires for their minivan.

G. Web development firm – ABC Web Development gave RRR Recreation Company a professional-looking online presence in just three days.

Regardless of the type of business your work for or run, and irrespective of the size or industry, you have the ability to dig into your performance and pull out such anecdotal evidence of the value of your products/services. In the worlds of sales and marketing there really is no more valuable data that this. Having worked for over 15 years in both B2B and B2C marketing environment and for sales teams, I can atest to this fact. Whenever we were able to uncover such testimonials for the sales team, they were estatic, to say the least.

Ways to Secure Anecdotal Performance Data

Quantifiable testimonials and return on investment (ROI) data such as this is worth its weight in gold and it can unfortantely be a little challenging to get your hands on at times. There are, however, many proven approaches to securing this invaluable data. Here are a few of those methods:

1. “We want to showcase your success” – Contact your most successful customers and tell them you are so proud of their success with your products/services that you want to highlight them in your outbound communications. Many clients will simply say “okay” because of the free, positive publicity you are offering.

2. Offer an incentive for helping - Offer your most successful customers a free month of service or 15 percent off their next purchase or six months of complimentary support, e.g. in exchange for giving you a quantifiable testimonial. This method has proven the most successful for me in the past.

3. Put a clause in your contract (primarily for B2B) – Put a clause in your sales contract that states the company will serve as a testimonial for your business once they have ROI to demonstrate. Many times the client won’t even notice it in the contract or if they do may simply disregard it at the time of purchase.

Branding and differentiation today can sometimes come down to inches – meaning a few dollars here and a few dollars there in terms of selecting you over a competitor. You need to do everything you can to stand out from the competition, and there are few better ways than with anecdotal evidence. Take the time to amass a number of these types of anecdotes – whether simple quantifiable bullet points like above or embedded into full-blow case studies. Case studies put the substance and color around the metric to help bring its full value to life.

Either way, anecdotal evidence will go a very long way toward distinguishing you and your offerings from the next guy, and that is what successful business is all about – offering something people want and demonstrating its value with real, quantifiable data from past customers.

You’ve Been Voluntold!

confusedIf you’re anything like myself – you do a great deal of local networking. At least two or three days a week, you might run into me at some event or another. Some are professional groups where my target customers lurk and others are general professional organizations local and national. In a few of these organizations I play a managerial role, (one I’m the president). As you may well understand this takes a great deal of commitment and effort. I absolutely believe that these groups help get my brand in front of the right people who desire what I’m offering. I have a strategy for my efforts and all involve being in control of my efforts. I’m proud that my brand commands the respect of my peers and as such I never have to suffer the the terrible affliction of being “voluntold.”

If you’re on a committee or two but fail to show up when you’re needed to participate, you will fall fate to joining efforts you are unaware of at the time you were induced. Some describe it this way – ” the fasted way to getting the worst job on a committee is to not show up at an important meeting.” At that critical meeting your brethren will take great pleasure in volunteering you, and if this happens – brother you’ve been VOLUNTOLD!”

Being Voluntold is the scarlet letter of organizations. If you’re Voluntold too many times your personal brand is going to take a beating. For the sake of your brand, be aware of the importance of meetings and your responsibility within a group.

You’ve been warned.

Choosing The Right Color For Your Brand

50sColorsNothing is more striking visually in a brand than its colour palette. It can move people, calm people and agitate them. Colour has meaning and can be historically relevant. An example of what I mean by this is – let’s say you have an antique store or modern store for that matter that sells 1950’s era goods that are original or retro. You would be wise to use the pastel colour palette from that era (shown here). On doing this, your audience would immediately relate to the environment you are trying to create.

Color also can help the customer feel a certain way. Red for instance is a power colour. It motivates. This is the number one colour used in retail sales to get customers to react to a sales statement . Act Now! Call Today! Up to 50% off – these are things you see every day and colour sells them.

I also like to analyze what colours the competition is using and use a palette that is completely opposite which is currently being used. Think UPS and brown. This is a leadership approach to color selection. How ever you choose to pick your corporate palette, don’t just make the choice based on your personal taste. If mauve is the proper selection to help you sell, don’t ignore it just because you may not like mauve.

It’s 2013 And I’ve Got Nothing!

photoI’m sitting here trying to be profound and write something great about the coming year’s branding efforts. I’ve got nothing. Not to say I’m pessimistic about the coming year, but I’m drawing a blank about what to write about. Since I’ve started blogging (2006) I have written several hundred articles on branding. Now, during the first week of a fresh new year I can’t think of a single thing to write about except this description of my dilemma. I try to write an article a week as a minimum. Sometimes the inspiration flows and I’m able to bank them and other times (like this week) I can barely conjure up more than a paragraph.

So this week you’ve got my apology as I like to deliver quality content. Maybe next week I’ll be more on top of my game. All the best to your brand this coming year!

Download The Kindle Version Of My New Book FREE!

This week only I’m giving away the Kindle version of my new book, “101 Branding Tips – Practical tips for your brand that you can use today.” This offer has no strings attached. What I would love is that you return to the Kindle bookstore and leave a review.

My goal is to give away a thousand ebooks by this Friday the 16th of November. As of yesterday I handed out over 350 Kindle versions. Get it HERE.

Get Your Expertise Out There

We are all experts in something. You might be humble in your discussion of your expertise, but be assured that you ARE an expert. I think that it’s imperative, that you share that expertise with your audience and allow them to benefit from with their exposure to you.

October has been a good month for exhibiting my expertise. On Tuesday past I spoke to 120 women leaders when I presented to Athena International in Chicago. Yesterday I was interviewed on List Builder Tele-Summit, an initiative spear-headed by Donna Ward and Rodney Rich. Next week, I’m featured at the grand opening of The new Windsor Small Business Centre at the University of Windsor signing my new book, 101 Branding Tips.

All three events were opportunities to expand my reach and profile my expertise. In all cases, it’s a great way to meet new people and see how I can potentially help them with their brands. In every case I am providing opinion free of charge to help those in attendance. It defines my brand, and in turn provides me with the opportunity to develop new leads. What do you do to share your opinion? It’s a great way to show your expertise in your category. It’s very much a three dimensional form of marketing your brand.

Challenge yourself to stand up and express your leadership topic. Put yourself out there and I can assure you that you WILL benefit from the effort. Outside of self-promotion another worthy effort is to mentor younger people with your expertise. It takes a leader to recognize the value in helping others grow. It’s rewarding on many levels.