Many SMBs ignore branding as a key marketing tool. It’s usually not even the last thing on their minds; probably because it’s not an easy business strategy to understand. Ask any business or marketing person what branding is and you will get some standard responses similar to “it’s how your customers perceive your business” or some even swear it’s “your logo” that brands the business—and they aren’t wrong but they aren’t entirely right either. These are only part answers. The biggest challenge is how do you take these simple definitions to convert them into a business function and tie the investment made with business growth? Sounds difficult right?
Now, your business may have been doing well so far without needing to build a brand. However, here are two compelling scenarios where you will find that branding is the only way out of them. Is your business experiencing one of them?
Scenario One: Growth Challenges
Business has hit a plateau after the initial roll of success:
Slower growth rate
After your initial penetration in the market you fail to generate the same demand in the marketplace. Sales drop as challenger companies crop up.
Sluggish sales cycles
As business grows new sales reps are not able to articulate the product value as well as you or as the key stakeholders did in the initial period.
Lower profit margins
You decide to introduce discounts in order to make the sale.
Scenario Two: Struggling to sell new services to existing customers
Few or almost no inquiries for new product/service
Your business has evolved over a period of time. Services and products change or new ones added but little or no effort is made to promote them.
Revenue dependent on established services/products
You have not been able to create sufficient demand for your new product/service so you are still hanging on to your existing product/service for sales.
Loss of business to competition
Your customers are still buying your newly introduced products/services from your rival companies.
Some branding mistakes you could be making:
Not evolving your brand with your business
Customers make their own opinion about your business even if you are not branding your business. There will be a clear mismatch between what you think your business is and what they perceive it to be.
This generally happens when prospects and customers are not well informed of the developments that occur in the course of business life. To give you an example - You may have started with one product/service but expanded to provide more which your customers are not aware of or you experience a lack of interest to buy from you.
Relying solely on Referrals
Referrals are awesome way to grow your business. That speaks a lot about your business but being dependant on it is a grave mistake unless you have a huge following that match ‘Game of Thrones’.
Discounting your products/services as a way of sales
Don’t get me wrong here, customers love discounts and they are great to boost sales. However, it is a problem when your product only sells with price rebates. Remember, competing on price as the sole differentiator is a sure way to push your business to death.
Remember, branding has made companies in to giant multinationals. Companies like Apple, Google, Benetton and Victoria Secret have all evolved and are big names around the world not just for their great logos or communication strategy. They have created a culture that spans across the organization and by ‘wowing’ their customers & prospects alike.
Your business has the potential too. Stop scrambling for sales. Take a moment and see your business from outside-in, instead of inside-out. Help your business grow by utilizing branding as a strategy. Ready, set, go!