By Phil Stella
Branding is always a hot topic for small businesses and many of my clients and Connections readers. I recently responded to a reader who asked how a small business effectively brands itself. Here’s a summary of my response.
Everything a small business does brands itself. Everything we say or do brands us as worthy resources … or not. But the marketplace really determines our brand. It’s what they think of when they think of us. It’s why they buy from us rather than the competition. It’s their reaction to what we communicate as our value proposition.
So, to effectively brand your small business:
- Accurately describe your value proposition. What you do through the lens of who benefits from what you do. You don’t “fix computers,” you “solve technology problems for small businesses.” You may need help with the specific details from colleagues or, even better, from customers.
- Be specific. Many small businesses provide lots of different products or services. Identify what you do best, what sells the most, and what produces the most revenue … and profit. This narrowing of scope doesn’t limit your appeal; it makes it much easier for the marketplace to remember what you can do for them.
- If your company name no longer communicates that value proposition — or never did — it’s time to consider rebranding. What makes more sense — “The Andrew Peters Group Inc.” or ‘Tech Solutions, Inc.?”
- Make sure everything customers and prospects see and hear reinforces that brand promise and value proposition. This includes your visual branding — logo, business cards, website graphics, and even your voice mail greeting. Add a branding line to it — ‘Thanks for calling Tech Solutions, your resource for small business technology installation, training, and repair.”
- Commit the necessary time and dollars to create effective, efficient, and engaging MarComm strategies and techniques. Hire one or more small business branding/marketing experts to help you.
- Take full advantage of all marketing and branding-related learning activities your chamber or professional group provides. Attend workshops or webinars. Read blog posts. Discuss the topic when networking at events.
Now, the next steps are up to you. Search for experts who are ideally positioned to provide you cost-effective support. Commit to attending several professional development events this year. Make learning about these topics high on your list of objectives whenever you network at a business event.
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, where he empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the University of Phoenix and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.