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Cork Independent

Business & Professional

Try these brand strategies to grow your business

Thursday, 22nd June, 2017 12:25pm

Most of us know that brands are important, but how do local businesses use their brand to grow?

 

Branding as self indulgence

This is what most businesses do. They spend money on graphics, logos, websites and concepts without really figuring out how it will get paid back in increased customers, faster inventory turns, utilisation of existing capacity, revenue, margins and retention.

Generally this is done to look good, for the company to feel good about themselves – look at me versus this is what we can do for you. This is just an expense usually with lots of wasted effort and diverted attention.

This occurs for a few reasons, the main two being that people are busy doing other stuff and there is a limited understanding to how to grow your business using your brand.

The two are connected because most people are, plus or minus 10 per cent, just doing the same as almost all their industry competitors. The blind following the blind, so to speak. There are rarely breakthrough levels of growth in this situation.

Where the opportunities to stand out occur is when there is focused fresh thinking, which comes to the fore when there is an outside perspective.

This can be in product innovation such as roll-on deodorant being a direct copy from the ballpoint pen. It can be in service provision, such as offering customers a tea or coffee.

Or, it can be in your brand and your positioning. Think of accountants with a personality, next day delivery guarantees, or the widest selection in Ireland.

The thinking differently can be as simple as moving from listing all the features of your offering to clearly outline what is in it for the buyer, the benefits and why that is important to them.

Branding to grow a customer base

Most of us would rather get a better return for the same effort, investment and risk. Getting more of the right customers is possible with the same risk, investment and effort. It just requires thinking differently and your brand is a key leverage point that can successfully attract, convert, deliver and retain more of the right customers.

It starts with being really clear on how you are going to compete in the market. And there is a market – people have so many choices, options and ways of buying these days.

What is your business model?

Is it getting customers in with small initial purchases and then keeping them happy, while making longer term profits from offering them additional or recurring products or services? Or are you looking for one-off large bursts to clear your stock, or fill the capacity you have right now?

Who are the ideal customers? What do they actually want? Do they know who you are, why to buy from you and how they can buy from you now or when the need arises?

The key to this is positioning; the more you get this right, the better your chances of success.

Branding as positioning

We asked Judy Hopkins, Director at marketing agency Hopkins Communications, what is branding and why is it important for a local business.

“Attaining, as well as sustaining, competitive advantage is key. Establish your brand loyalty and continually innovate to keep your offering fresh and compatible with the market place. Your team will be central to this as well as your customer base – keeping in constant communication with them will help you keep and improve your position in a local or indeed, global market," she says.

“In short, anything that will make a good news story, or that people will talk about (in a positive way) is what you need to be aiming for.

"Ultimately, you are showing the world what sets you apart from your competition and enticing them to buy your product or use your service.

“Most importantly though, is to keep the communication lines open – to continuously push out your company/product/brand, show your growths and developments and that you are moving with the times and listening to the end users needs and wants and delivering above and beyond.”

“With a brand, you know what you are getting including the quality and the outcome of using that product or service. Every organisation should invest in their brand to give it provenance, the correct perception and to have it resonate with their target audiences so that they keep coming back, keep recommending you and keep giving you feedback. At the end of the day, we live in a consumer’s world so we have to be at the fore of their minds for our brands to succeed.”

Judy’s steps to stand out in a competitive local market and establish differentiation:

1. Look at your product/service and decide what sets you apart from the competition i.e. a new offering, better value (and where that value can be seen), specific offerings your competitors don’t have, special offers or perceived price offerings and discounts.

2. Shout about your corporate social responsibility campaigns (i.e. ties to a charity), awards you have won, your highly experienced team, tried and tested products/services and testimonials boosting your reputation.

3. The media and consumer/customer always love to hear about investment figures in your company, new hires and the quantity of same; or the fact that you might be working with local suppliers.

4. Research and statistics will reinforce the fact that you are at the top of your game.

5. If you have brand ambassadors and if so, work with them where you can to promote your offering.

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