Successful small business marketing can best be viewed as a triangle containing three essential elements: Brand, Package, and People.
Brand forms the base of this marketing triangle. Brand is the foundation your business is built upon in the mind of your customer. When you rest a heavy load on a weak foundation, a crooked and cracked house is the inevitable outcome. It's no different when building your business. A strong brand is critical to your small company's long-term business health and profits.
Brand is really your company's identity. Brand is the essence of your company--the who of your company in the mind of your customers. Think your customers pick up your company's identity by osmosis? By that latest brilliant advertising slogan? Sometimes, but for most small businesses, new customers learn of you--and your brand-- from another customer or from one of your employees.
Yes, employees--definitely the most under-utilized marketing referral source in small business today.
So, weaving a Brand Banner that customers and employees can carry around for you and then wave at the right time--for you, unsolicited--is an ultra-effective way for your small business to advertise. This Brand Banner must be easy to repeat and memorable. Your advocates will bear your Brand Banner because of the natural human inclination to share helpful information with other people.
Just remember, if you let that Brand Banner get soiled, ripped or grimy, then that's the flag that'll be out there flying for your business. Not the impression you want to make. This is yet another reason customer service is so vitally important.
Brand isn't your company logo, latest advertising slogan or catchy jingle any more than your best suit is you. The suit can improve your image, but even casual acquaintances will still recognize the essential you underneath.
Brand is similar to integrity--if you've earned it, your small business can make errors along the way and still become very successful. Customers don't expect perfection, but they do expect attention. If they trust you to do the right thing by them, even when you mess up, you'll boost your small business integrity and your brand. But without integrity, you can pour out thousands of advertising dollars to look great and sound slick, but still fail in the end because you are essentially anchored to nothing more solid than shifting sand.
So, if Brand is Identity, and your small business marketing is built on referrals from customers and employees, then the critical next step is for you to understand just how it is that customer's perceive you. Like beauty, Brand is in the eye of the beholder.
© 2006 Marketing HawksSmall Business Marketing Strategy for Brand Promotion