I can understand why many small business owners believe that their brand is just another term for their logo. In fact, I tend to glaze over when terms such as brand essence and brand voice get bandied around by agencies. But, if as a business owner, you fail to recognise what branding is really all about you are almost certainly missing a trick.
When we talk about branding we tend to think of big companies with even bigger budgets; so what can small companies do to build their own brands?
I received a fantastic, yet stunningly simple, example of good branding from a small local company today in the form of a basic door drop. The leaflet invited me to an open day at a local bespoke curtain makers. Here’s why I thought it was so great in terms of branding:
- The materials used for the invitation were in keeping with the brand – high quality card with a glossy laminate finish which oozed luxury
- The images reflected the product – professional and creative images which shouted ‘attention to detail’
- The overall design was clean and precise – much like the bespoke products they produce I expect
- The message was confident and clear – we are here, come and meet us and look at our work
- The trade body logo was displayed – telling me that they are serious about what they do.
By aligning every aspect of this simple piece of marketing material to their brand and really focusing on getting the detail right they have succeeded in getting their message across brilliantly.
It’s not often that a simple piece of card can actually give you confidence in a product before you have even seen it…I wonder if the open day will live up to expectations?
It doesn’t take any more money to create a great piece of marketing material that will really enhance your brand than to create a mediocre piece. It does take time, thought and attention to detail though; but isn’t it worth it?
Infographics are my new marketing best friends! They are appealing and useful on so many levels.
I see infographics used most frequently in the content marketing arena and they do work particularly well in the place of wordy blog posts. They are very versatile though and I have used then to great effect in awards submissions, proposal documents and strategy presentations; in fact in any situation where you need to convey key information quickly and clearly.
Here’s why I love them:
- they can convey information in a user-friendly manner; appealing particularly to people with a visual learning style
- they can provide focus and clarity to complex subjects
- they can convey lots of information in a relatively small space
- they are memorable
- they can bring potentially boring or mundane subjects to life
- they are easy to share.
Here’s a nice example of a seasonal infographic that inspired my post today.
How could you use infographics in your business?
I saw an, almost perfect, advert in a local magazine the other day. So, almost perfect in fact, that I contacted the advertiser immediately and almost purchased!
This is why I think the advert worked:
- It had a great headline which promised to solve a problem for me
- The text was backed up by simple and relevant images which told me, at a glance, what the service was
- It had a strong call to action
- It was perfectly targeted; the adverts was appropriate for the publication and was extremely relevant for the target readership
- Not only was it relevant but it was also well timed.
So why did I only almost purchase off the back of a seemingly well thought through piece of marketing? You guessed it… lack of follow through.
I googled the company in question, sent them an email enquiry littered with buying signals …and then…heard nothing. A couple of days later I phoned the number in the advert and got the response ‘ what advert is that then love?’
Will I buy from this company? Unlikely. Don’t waste your money on advertsing, however good, if you can’t get the rest of the sales process right.
I received a random email today from a design agency which, I assume, was touting for new business. I say assume…as I’m not really sure why they sent the communication to me or indeed what they wanted me to do having read it.
The email contained a number of cryptic questions that, the writer told me, I should be asking myself about my business brand. The content didn’t give any real insight or offer to answer the questions for me; it didn’t even tell me where to go to get these questions answered. In short I was left wondering what the point was. I took the inevitable course of action and simply pressed the delete key.
As a business owner it is very easy to get caught up with your own ‘story’ and forget to think from the readers perspective. Don’t fall into the trap of being too clever with your marketing messages; not everyone has the time or inclination to guess what on the earth you are talking about. There is no doubt that a well thought through ‘teaser’ campaign can work but, generally speaking, it’s best to keep your message simple and clear.
A simple way to review the clarity of your marketing message is to put yourself in your customers shoes and ask yourself …what does the message really mean for me? If you can’t answer the ‘so what?’ question then I’m pretty sure that your potential customers will be thinking the same and will probably consigning your message to the bin.
It was with some relief that I opened the sixth, and final, direct mail piece from a certain Scandinavian book printing company today. You may be wondering why I have received no less than half a dozen different mailing packs from a seemingly unrelated business over the last two months – I certainly am!
I can at least take an educated guess. Though I have never had the need for a book printer, I did publish a magazine (until I sold the business some 6 months ago). My details have obviously been captured and ‘plonked’ into the generic category of ‘publishing’ and the data sold on to some poor unsuspecting marketer hoping for a list of relevant prospects!
Here are some of the questions you should ask before agreeing to rent or buy, what looks like, a relevant database?
- Where has the data come from and how is it kept up to date? Has the data originated from a legitimate source, has it been verified and on what basis is it kept up to date?
- Can you buy the relevant portion of the data and how can it be segmented? If you are looking to target businesses in a particular sector can they be easily identified?
- What level of detail does the database contain? It is essential that you have a named contact and you may also want a ‘phone number and email address.
- On what basis can you use the data? You can rent lists for one-off use or multiple use or you can buy the data outright. Be clear about what you need and what you are getting.
- How will the data be sent to you? The format in which you will receive the data is particularly important if you are using an outsourced mailing house. Make sure it is compatible.
There are lots of good databases out there – by asking the right questions you can make sure you choose the one that will work for you.