Building brand awareness should be a principal focus for any business. Your goal is to become top of mind when your prospects consider purchasing the product or service you sell.
Yet, after working with small businesses for 27 years, I’ve found one consistent weakness is a lack of focus on marketing and brand building. Many entrepreneurs neglect this vital function because they don’t know where to start, fear the perceived cost or become distracted by thousands of other details involved in running a successful enterprise.
Building a brand is an ongoing process. Here are five strategies you can use to get started.
Start with a compelling, unique selling proposition and business name
It’s impossible to build brand awareness if you can’t clearly communicate who you are, what sets your business apart and why your customers and prospects should buy from you. A succinct, powerful and unique selling proposition forms the foundation of your brand. Distill your unique selling proposition into your business name, which should include a clear explanation of what you do.
Stand out with stellar service
Good customer service is a minimum requirement for staying in business. Be exceptional. Make a memorable and lasting impression with every customer interaction. Wow your customers and create brand ambassadors who will come back and tell others about you. Iconic companies like Nordstrom, L.L. Bean and Zappos.com built their brands on great service. You can, too.
If you run a local business, most customers live or work within a few miles of your location. Become involved in the community. Hit the pavement and meet other local business owners. Invite neighbors to events at your location. Sponsor a school sports team. Become a member of your local chamber of commerce and take advantage of the services they offer, including networking sessions and annual events.
Invest in a website
Your website is your online storefront. Customers can check it 24 hours a day to browse your service offerings and learn about business hours, specials and events. Web platforms such as WordPress and Shopify make it easy to set up a relatively inexpensive website.
Be sure to optimize for smartphones and tablets, since more than 60 percent of users will view your site on these devices. Your website is also the platform for search engine optimization and content marketing programs, which help prospects find you when searching for solutions.
Consider your website as the hub of your online activity. Social networking acts like the spokes of a wheel that create online traction for your business, allowing you to engage with customers and prospects. The key word is engage. Share photos, videos and other posts that inspire people to like, comment on and share your material. Be helpful and entertaining.
With today’s array of social platforms, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, so start out slowly. Start with a Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn account. Once you have mastered that platform, you can branch out to others.
Greg Ubert is the founder and president of Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea. Since 1991, Crimson Cup has roasted sustainably sourced specialty and craft coffee in small batches. The company also teaches entrepreneurs to run a successful coffee shop through its coffee franchise alternative program, which includes a coffee shop business plan. Crimson Cup coffee is available through a community of more than 350 independent coffee shops, grocers, college and universities, restaurants and food service operations, as well as in the company’s own coffee shops in Columbus.