By: David T. Domzalski
No matter how big your business is – it could be global or local – it is important to recognize that successful businesses work on building a brand rather than just growing the business. When people think of Apple or Coke, do they think of just the products these companies produce? Is it only about the iPad or soft drink? The answer is no. When customers think of Apple, they think of excellence. They think of a company that excites them and makes their lives easier. With Coke, people think of summer time and having a cold soft drink at a ballgame with their family and friends.
Similarly, local and regional companies can do the same thing. There is a company named George Leck & Son, Inc. where I reside in Newtown, PA. The Leck name is synonymous with success in trash removal for residences and businesses. Almost every trash can in my neighborhood has the Leck name on it and any restaurant dumpster I come across seems to have “LECK” plastered on the side. When people think Leck in my area, they don’t just think trash. They think of a successful family-owned business that provides excellent service to their customers.
That is what brand building is all about. On top of that, it even touches on that all-important benchmark in the marketing realm: top-of-mind awareness. When you reach that level where a customer thinks of you first before everyone else in your industry, congratulations! You’ve built a successful brand and you probably receive a lot of business through referrals.
So, how can you begin to build your brand? Here are some tips I use as I build my company’s brand:
- Become an expert and/or source in your industry or niche. This may seem like common sense and it truly is. But, it must be pointed out because it is the foundation of building your brand – after you have a product or service people want to buy. Once you establish your business, you’re going to want to gain credibility by being a “go-to” person for media coverage when something important occurs in your industry. Seek out members of the media who may need sources. Great ways to get that exposure are by using sites like RadioGuestList.com, HelpAReporter.com, and ReporterConnection.com. Also, you should attend networking events or ask to speak to a local group. These are great ways to set you apart from the crowd.
- Customer Evangelists. The key to any successful brand is the customer. You must allow your customers to participate in building your business. This doesn’t just mean buying your product or service. This means engaging them through your company’s website, social media, or trade shows. When you involve the customer and make them feel like they’re apart of your company, they do a lot of marketing for you. This is where the all-mighty referral comes in to play that I mentioned before. Take care of your customers and make them feel like part of the family – and they will return the favor many times over.
- Become a thought leader and trend setter. If you develop your brand properly and methodically, you will have the chance to position yourself as the company people look to as a leader. If you’re a local venture, other businesses in your field may try to emulate what you do. You may end up being the benchmark by which other businesses in your industry measure themselves. If you’re lucky enough to have this happen to you, great. Make sure you embrace it with a touch of humility. Give back to your community and be the business everyone expects to set the trend.
David T. Domzalski is the founder of Financial Bin, a media company focused on personal finance and entrepreneurial education for Generation Y. You can contact David through email or visit his website: FinancialBin.com and email@example.com