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 had yet another telesales call this week that reminded me why some of the basic sales training I undertook in my early days is still valid today. It went something like this…
- Telesales guy : Can I speak to the business owner?
- Me: Yes, that’s me.
- Telesales guy: Oh good. Do you have an epos machine?
- Me: No
- Telesales guy: Would you like to have an epos machine if the monthly charges were lower?
- Me: No
- Telesales guy: Oh. Wouldn’t it help your business to have an epos machine?
- Me: No
- Telesales guy: Oh. OK. Bye then.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that you won’t get very far by asking a series of closed questions, yet we all fall into the trap from time to time. I watched an experienced newsreader just last night trying to interview an eight year old boy using closed questions. It was painful. The boy, who was clearly dying to tell his story, was prevented from doing so by the interviewers ineptitude.
Closed questions do have their place of course, and they are great for:
- Gaining factual information, as in: Am I speaking to the business owner?
- Clarifying that you have understood a situation, as in: So am I right in thinking that you don’t currently have a marketing plan?
- Getting a desired positive answer, as in: Would you like to generate more business?
- Seeking to close a deal or teasing out an objection, as in: Would you sign today if I were able to deliver next Tuesday?
If ultimately you are trying to sell something, you will need to use a mix of open and closed questions to really develop the conversation. The good news is that most of us do this naturally in a social situation, which is perhaps why people who are genuinely interested in others often make good sales people. With a little self awareness and preparation you can hone the questioning techniques that you are probably already using and start to turn your conversations into natural sales opportunities.
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.