If you’re a small business owner looking to build a company that transcends generations, then you must respect the importance and power of branding. Your business is more than a business. It’s a brand. It’s an organization. It’s a living, breathing community. Whenever possible, you must inject a bit of personality into your marketing materials, and keep the customer’s needs at the absolute forefront of all decision making.
1. Focus on creating an experience.
It’s all about “setting the scene.” It’s not just about making that sale. It’s about creating long term customer loyalty. With that said, ask yourself this. “Would I want to shop here?” “Is my business interactive and engaging?” “Am I giving my customers a memorable shopping experience?”
You want customers to be “wowed” by your level of service. You want them to remember you as “one of a kind.” When trying to create an experience, ask yourself: what feeling to I want to evoke? Then run with this concept.
2. Step out from behind the counter.
Take time for one on one, face to face interaction. Sure, there is something to be said about operating like a well oiled machine. But, you also want to remember this: there’s nothing stronger than human to human connection. If you run a brick and mortar, step out from behind your cash register and interact with customers. Make eye contact. Focus on engaging in meaningful conversation (if time allows.)
3. Regularly survey your audience.
I’m obsessed with social media polling. It really helps me get a good grip on what my customers/potential buyers want. For example, let’s say I’m a clothing retailer. I carry small, mediums, and larges. Lately, I’ve noticed sales just aren’t growing at a consistent rate. In fact, they’re starting to plummet. I decide to run a poll on social media. I quickly realize: I’m not offering the size most of my customers want – XL! This is a mock example, but all together too common. When it comes to customer preferences; if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
4. Whenever possible, personalize your marketing messages and campaigns.
I’m a huge fan of personalization when it comes to offer promotion. I don’t want to receive unqualified offers from my favorite retailers. For example, let’s say I’m a Gap shopper. Love their jeans and can’t get enough of that classic, girl next door look. How would I feel if I got an SMS marketing message sent to my phone that read, “20% off our newborn collection at Baby Gap! Show this text in store or use coupon code BABY at checkout.” I’m not a mother, nor do I plan on becoming one any time soon. To me, this offer is totally irrelevant. A few more offers like this, and I might just unsubscribe from Gap’s SMS marketing club. See my point? Failure to personalize offers, whenever possible, results in decreasing customer loyalty.
If you fail to cultivate customer loyalty, you absolutely will not succeed long term. You want to be in business for the long haul, and not let little trip ups slow your progress. Stick to these four branding tips, and you’ll be well on your way.