What is important about your brand when you are a small business owner?  Who cares, right?  Everyone cares and you should care the most.

Brand is defined by Wikipedia as follows: “A brand is often the most valuable asset of a Corporation.  Brand owners manage their brands carefully to create shareholder value, and brand valuation is an important management technique that ascribes a money value to a brand and allows marketing investment to be managed (e.g.: prioritized across a portfolio of brands) to maximize shareholder value. Although only acquired brands appear on a company’s balance sheet, the notion of putting a value on a brand forces marketing leaders to be focused on long term stewardship of the brand and managing for value.”

The word “brand” is often used as a metonym, referring to the company that is strongly identified with a brand.

When you hear the name Coke… What goes through your mind?  The taste, the color of the can, the type of containers you drink it from or maybe the last commercial you saw.  Coca Cola has probably one the most recognized brands in the World and has for decades.

Now, let’s put things in perspective and relevant terms for your business.  Think about local businesses in your city.  The leading air conditioner service is a good example since they are generally not a franchised business.  Here are some good subjective questions to evaluate your view of that company and its brand:

  • When did you see their last commercial, billboard ad or perhaps their truck driving down the road?
  • Do their vehicles and signage look professional?  Do you readily recognize their logo?
  • Do their employees dress in professional uniforms?
  • Maybe you have used them before.  What was your experience with them?  What have you heard other say?
  • Do you know the face of the owner(s)?
  • Have you called upon them more than once?  Was the experience consistent in quality of delivery of their service?  Was the price reasonable?

Creating a brand should be an obsession.  A good brand is the most valuable asset your company can have.  You want a favorable impression by everyone that comes in contact with your company.  After all, the experience anyone has with your company is a measurement of what will be expected in future business interaction.

What does your Brand look like?

It is not often enough that we ask ourselves “Why do customers pick my business?”   It is not enough to simply ask the customer how they found you.  Digging deeper gives you more of what you need in order to assess and make changes where needed.

Let’s look at a scenario.  Your phone rings, the prospective customer asks for a quote.  You ask “How did you find us?”   He says “on the internet”.  You say great and proceed to give him a quote.

In this example, he chose you because you were ranked high on the web search.  Think about it, you were there with half a dozen other companies in your same line of business.  He called you.  If you got the business, was it because you were cheaper or ranked higher in the search engine?  It could have been either, but not every customer makes their decision because the chosen business was cheaper or easier to find on the internet.

What customers say about your company is more important than any single factor in your business.  If someone is making a decision based upon price and you have a bad reputation, you probably are not going to get their business.  Your competition can probably match your price and if they have a good reputation, they are as likely as you to get the business.

Keep the term “Customer Experience” on the forefront of your mind.  According to Wikipedia:

Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. From awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. It can also be used to mean an individual experience over one transaction; the distinction is usually clear in context.

Here are a few things I have seen work to improve the customer experience:

  1. Talk to your customers when they are at your place.  Get to know them.  Thank them for coming.  Make them feel like they are the only customer you had today.  It works!
  2. Use customer satisfaction surveys.  Have some preprinted cards with a 1 to 10 rating system relating to 4 to 6 questions.  Place these cards in your lobby.  Post the results on your website and staple the cards on a wall where customers can see them.   The customer will be instantly transformed into a positive frame of mine and feel like they came to the right place.
  3. Ask customers to post a comment or review on Google Places, Bing, Yahoo or any other popular search engines.  Make sure that you ask your happy customers to do this.  If an unhappy customer submits a review, they can do irreparable damage.  This becomes viral.  People will start telling you, “did you know that you were the only ****** business with all 5 star reviews.  I have personal witness that this does happen.
  4. Call your customers and ask them if you met their expectations.  Do this within 24 hours of delivering the service or product.  After 24 hours, a call is not near as effective.  When is the last time you received a call from someone you just did business with.  How would you feel about that company after receiving that call.  Service companies .. you better pay close attention to this one.
  5. Post comments and survey results on your website.  Be sure to ask permission to use names of customers if you chose to do this.  Search engines find this stuff and it works.

Building a good reputation is not an occasional project or campaign.  It is an ongoing effort that builds a solid foundation.  Growing a business organically (naturally) is the best and least expensive way to build it.   News travels fast and can be viral.. Make sure the news about your company is good news.

Did you ever think that the customer experience can increase your profit margins?  I have found that if a business has a good reputation, their margins are actually better because they do not attract only “price shoppers”.  Price shoppers often are the hardest people to please.  If you are providing quality products and services, you can demand higher prices because you can afford to deliver consistently high quality.  I am not sure about you but I really like good customers that do not try to beat me up on price.  Those who appreciate me usually get more than they expected in quality of service provided.

Don’t waste your money on advertising until you assess and improve your customer experience.   All your advertising dollars may as well be thrown out the window if customers you have serviced are marginally satisfied.

Start building your Customer Experience today!  Schedule 30 minutes with me here.

Have you heard the term “organic growth”?  For you that haven’t, it is growing your business naturally.  By that, you can grow your business by simply making sure that the customer experience for everyone you serve is so good that they will tell others about the positive experience.

Here are a few techniques that you can try that work:

  • Provide customer satisfaction cards on your counter for them to fill out.  Once filled out, put them on your wall.  Everyone that enters your business will see them and get an instant positive impression.
  • Ask customers to go to your Google place page and write a review.  Over time people will see these positive reviews and make a decision to buy from you because you have positive reviews and your competition does not. Give thanks to those who take the time.
  • Ask your associates in complimentary business if you can put your business cards in their place of business.  Make sure that you put their cards in your business.  Try to limit the number of people in a similar business to not more than 2 per type.
  • Get involved in community organizations like Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce.  These organizations are all about integrity and give you a chance to be in the company of top local companies like yours.

Advertising dollars are hard to target.  Most advertising is geared for a one-shot message.  If you strategically target your efforts, you do not have to spend a lot of money to grow your business.  Consider organic growth as a business strategy.

If you want to know how this will work for you, send me a message.

Schedule time with me here.