By Phil Stella
Last month’s feature on the always hot topic of branding generated even more reader reaction and questions. One of them asked about branding on a tight budget. My comments:
Time to get creative with ways to get lots of free positive exposure. The concept of “target market” weaves throughout my comments below. It requires you to precisely define and describe your ideal customers with specific demographic details — those who really need your product or service, value your approach to it, love your style, and will easily evolve into raving fans.
- If you know what trade publications, eLetters or blogs your target-market reads regularly, try to publish content in them that promotes the value of the concepts behind your product or service. But don’t try to sell. Write about the importance of data security for small businesses, not the specific data security service your company provides. Allow the exposure to “brand you” as an expert.
- If you know what professional or business group events your target-market attends regularly, offer to speak at them. Same caveat — speak about the value of the concept, not your specific product. Allow that exposure to also “brand you” as a dynamic and engaging expert.
- Volunteer your time and talents to some of those groups. Showcase your expertise. The classic example is the website designer who freshens up the organization’s site pro bono, in exchange for a mention on their home page. Allow the contribution of time and talent to help “brand you” as a professional who gives expertise willingly to support worthy organizations.
- Always ask for referrals from happy customers. Let them become an extension of your sales team … or your entire sales team. Testimonials on your website can help, but not as much as a happy customer calling a colleague on your behalf. And the larger the customer’s organization, the greater the chance for internal referrals to other divisions and departments.
So, “no-budget branding” is simple but not easy. It requires time and effort, especially if you don’t want to invest the money to have a branding pro do it for you. One final tip — whenever you network at small business-oriented events, ask people you meet how they brand their businesses on a budget. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn.
Best wishes for success and keep those comments and questions coming.
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.