branding tips

What Is Your Brand Promise? (Google VS Bing)

What Is A Brand?

A Brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” [Source]

A Brand is more than just aesthetic however and it is impacted by several key things. To start out let’s quickly define three key terms. BrandingBrand Promise & Brand Reputation

  • “Branding” Defined as: The [aesthetic] marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. [Source].
  • “Brand Promise” Defined as: The primary, valued promise made by the larger institution. Also called a positioning statement or USP. The natural association or expectation (of service, product and/or quality) for a given business.
  • “Brand Reputation” Defined as: The position a company brand occupies (within the minds of consumers). How a brand is acknowledged and perceived by customers.

It is understood that any successful brand is built on these key principles. Each one is important in its own right and will impact the Brands success. Crucial to the building and success of any Brand is the “Brand Promise”. This promise is the commitment by which consumers grade the brand.

For example: At Transition Marketing our Brand Promise is to educate, equip, support and maintain the branding and marketing resources for small businesses.

The concept of the Brand Promise, is essentially a company’s commitment. It is their “philosophy” and the direction of their company. It is their promise to the consumer and their Brand Reputation is linked directly to this promise.

A brand’s reputation is just like any other reputation. It is like yours and it is like mine. It is developed slowly through the various experiences others have with us. The more we keep our word, the better our reputation is right?

Likewise it is a businesses ability to keep to their Brand Promise and to fulfill the consumers expectations, that determines how solid their Brand Reputation is. It gives the consumer the ability to “expect”.

To further use the example above: if at Transition Marketing our Brand Promise is to educate, equip, support and maintain the branding and marketing resources for small business, then it is our ability to fulfill these things, that will determine the word that goes out about us and the reputation that we develop.

Every product or service you purchase is purchased for a reason and that reason is almost always linked to the Brand Reputation & Brand Promise being made:

  • Purchasing no-name toilet paper? that is because it is less expensive, that is the brand reputation of the no-name brand. That is what is expected when the purchase is made.
  • Purchasing “Charmin” brand toilet paper? That’s because it promises a “softer experience”. It may be more expensive, but a lower price was never part of the promise. A quality “cleaning” experience, however, was.

Both brands in the purchases above will be graded on their ability to keep to their promise. That is the Brand Reputation and it will be reflected in your choice the next time you go to make that purchase.

Brand Reputation Illustrated: Google VS Bing

While recently browsing one of our favorite social sites, Reddit, we came across the image below (credit to user: /r/engineeringguy) . At first it made us chuckle, then we gave our heads a shake and realized just how serious what we were looking at truly was.

In the instance below, a user attempted to find the name of a movie based on the description: “spy movie with little girl”. The search results below speak for themselves.

Google VS Bing. The Search results tell a compelling story.

Google VS Bing. The Search results tell a compelling story.

The difference between the two search engines is night and day. I for one know which search engine I would want my children using. 

Google has long-held the title as the king of Search Engines. Other brands (Yahoo, Bing, Ask, Alta Vista) are more or less just a joke. However this is not about that. What is important to note here is the stark contrast in these companies ability to fulfill their Brand Promise. Let’s compare.

  • Googles Brand Promise: Search the world’s information, including webpages, images, videos and more. Google has many special features to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Fulfillment: A+. Google clearly fulfills their promise, providing clear (clean) and accurate search results that provide the user with the exact information being sought.
  • Brand Reputation: Google is well-known as the go to engine for search results. Few if any users use other engines as a primary search tool. As the go to for almost all internet user’s their “AdWords” business generate massive revenue.
  • Bings Brand Promise: Bing is a search engine that brings together the best of search and people in your social networks to help you spend less time searching and more time doing.
  • Fulfillment: F. Bing fails so miserably in the example above that summer school won’t even do it any good. I would not trust Bing’s services and would never recommend them to anyone.
  • Brand Reputation: Bing is joked about widely. It is the Search Engine equivalent of the Google+ social network and likely only used by Bing employees while being watched by their Bing employers. As such Bing generates a fraction of the revenue Google generates.

The example above is not to lambaste Bing (although it does a pretty good job). There are MANY variables to play into search engines and their ability to provide the answers we are looking for. However the example above is the perfect illustration of Brands making Brand Promises and the eventual Brand Reputation that occurs.

Your business will develop a Brand Reputation whether you like it or not. Customers will talk about your business. It may be positive, it may be negative and that is almost entirely up to you the business owner. You must take control of your business, its image and its reputation.

Every business requires a Brand plan. Business owners must take time to develop their brand and take control of their Brand Image. By carefully developing the brand, a business can go from simply surviving to succeeding.

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

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Tapping Into Trends & Engaging Consumers

We have always enjoyed a good zombie trend. What other trends out there have seen success?

We have always enjoyed a good zombie trend. What other trends out there have seen success?

We’ll be honest we love the whole “Zombie Movement” that has taken place over the past 5-6 years and while it may have played out a little, we still enjoy seeing stuff like this.

Which brings up a great marketing point: Tapping into growing trends is never a bad idea, so long as you do proper research and do not go into it half cocked (Ahem! Kenneth Cole #Cairo! Ahem!).

By tapping into trends, you can hit a nerve centre with consumers and really bolster sales. Look for opportunities to resonate with your customers.

….and remember to have some fun.

Small Businesses: Be Community Citizens

This small business understands the term "community".

This small business understands the term “community”.

It’s back to school! To celebrate we want to share this awesome bit of community engagement by a small town pizza place.

How cool would it be to see a local pizza place doing something like this? Imagine the impressions this has on all those “starving students”.

Imagine the loyalty this place breeds with its local community.

They are not only engaging their local population, they are being upstanding corporate citizens.

Our question to you is this: What can we all learn from this example?

5 Steps For Marketing Your Small Business

Image from Hillbillly Haven in Armstrong BC. A nice, clean shop front will assure consumers that they are not wasting their time.

Image from “Hillbillly Haven” in Armstrong BC. A nice, clean shop front will assure consumers that they are not wasting their time.

1. Keep Your Shop Clean, Professional.

This is absolutely crucial to success. Good, clean presentation is a must. Few consumers will enter a business that looks like a dive. Why would they?

A clean, professional shop front influences people. It provides customers with the promise that they will not be wasting their time by entering your shop. It builds trust that you and your business take pride in what you offer. What is more, it can motivate your employees to hold their heads up high and take pride in their jobs.

A messy store front will do just the opposite. It will strike fear and it will create discomfort in customers and employees alike. How could a customer trust you to provide them with value for their hard-earned money, if you cannot even maintain what is your own? and why would employees take any initiative, if you yourself refuse to?

No matter how chaotic things may be behind the scenes of your business, always, always, ALWAYS ensure your business image is immaculate.

Image taken at "Kanga & Roo's Children's Boutique" in Vernon BC

Image taken at “Kanga & Roo’s Children’s Boutique” in Vernon BC. Keeping displays new and fresh draws new customers in.

2. Rotate Your Displays & Get Creative.

When we walk past a shop, we are more prone to enter if the front displays are fun. The small business owner should take their pride in their business one step further by continually revising and re-creating the displays of their goods and services. This does not mean moving where items are kept (as that can confuse your regulars). Rather it means, changing how they are displayed.

Many businesses will do a special display for Christmas or other big seasonal events, but it does not need to stop there. Keep your displays fresh and fun, change them regularly and you will see an increase in store traffic. You don’t need an event to keep things colourful.

It is a labour intensive job to stay on top of, but it will generate sales.

If you are not the “create-pretty-displays” type of person, then consider asking one of your staff. You may be surprised at the talent they possess. By handing off a job like this to an employee you are accomplishing three things:

  1. You have filled their day a little more. Now when it is quiet and the floors are swept, they will have something to do.
  2. You have shown them respect and that you trust them.
  3. You are giving them a chance to use a talent to build your business.
Target Marketing is all about zeroing in an a specific consumer demographic

Target Marketing is all about zeroing in an a specific consumer demographic.

3. TARGET Your Marketing & Advertising

Small Business cannot afford to carpet bomb their advertising. It is too expensive to advertise to everyone, everywhere via every method and it is ineffective to just place a few ad’s here and there. Consumers are overwhelmed with the amount of advertising and marketing that is already in their faces everyday. The truth is that they hardly take notice of anything but the most directly engaging types of ads.

The average consumer is hit with hundreds of marketing messages daily. Advertising is everywhere you look. If you want attention you need to make it stand out, you need to customize your marketing to directly speak to your primary consumer base.

Get to know your consumer, learn what appeals to them and make a point of marketing to that. Ensure your message is clear, concise and creative. Bland ad’s don’t work. They must appeal to the people you are selling to on an emotional level and on a rational one as well.

Find out what stirs their emotions, use that to engage and cultivate interest. Then seal the deal by providing a logical reason to make the purchase.

4. Have A Pricing Strategy In Place.

A pricing strategy is much more than simply "Cost + Margin". Your prices will communicate your brand image to consumers. Pricing must be anchored within the rest of your marketing strategy.

A pricing strategy is much more than simply “Cost + Margin”. Your prices will communicate your brand image to consumers. Pricing must be anchored within the rest of your marketing strategy.

Pricing is a powerful tool. It must be used correctly if you wish to achieve your goals. Do not content yourself with setting a price based solely on production costs plus a margin. As a small business owner, you must decide:

  1. What are you trying to achieve with your pricing?
  2. What is the message you are giving people by pricing like you do?

Low pricing is a great way to break into new markets, or dominate existing ones at the risk of a lower profitability over the short-term. Whereas high prices, although you will sell less, can give the impression of a high-end product.

Your pricing is a direct line of communication to your customers and it speaks levels about your business. Your pricing strategy should reflect your marketing strategy. Whether you are targeting high-end consumers or the everyday public, ensure your pricing is in line with your overall brand image and marketing strategy.

5. Develop A Marketing Plan.

Sit down and devise a full strategy for your goals. Create a written marketing plan. This is the best way to ensure that you and all others involved in your business have a clear understanding of company direction. A standard marketing plan must be comprehensive, thoroughly researched and it must encompass every step required to bring your products or services to the customer.

Here are a few valuable questions to ask while developing this plan:

  1. Who are we now?
  2. Who do we want to be?
  3. What do we need to do to be that?
  4. Where are we now?
  5. Where do we want to be?
  6. What do we need to do to get there?
  7. Where do our most profitable present opportunities exist?
  8. What is the best path to these opportunities?
  9. Who will do what?
  10. What is required for each member to accomplish their task?
  11. How do we equip them?
  12. How will we know when we have achieved each goal?

Okanagan-Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

 

Avoid Sneaky Marketing Tactics

Bad-Marketing-Advertising

Always read the fine print. If an ad seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Does anyone else find it odd, that the fine print more or less contradicts the large print above it?

What is worse is that this ad targets consumers with eye sight issues.

That seems a little dirty Vision Express. If someone NEEDS an eye exam, are they even going to be able to read that fine print? We would love to presume that in the example above that this is part of the joke, but frankly it seems more like a bad ad execution.

“Always read the fine print. If an ad seems to good to be true, it probably is. This type of marketing is one to be avoided. It will tarnish your brand image.”

This is on par with the big box stores that proclaim an item to be just “$0.99” but then have a little font size 6 statement at the bottom that says “when purchasing six or more”.

It is legal and it is common for big businesses to use these type of tactics to sucker customers in. Legal it may be, however that doesn’t make it right,

We would mark this little piece of marketing as a fail. It comes off as underhanded and sneaky (and in fact the original poster of the image above, posted it to make this very point). It may sucker a few consumers, however it is morally questionable and savvy consumers will quickly learn not to trust you or your brand.

Those are our thoughts, what do you think?

What’s In A Name? Choosing Your Small Business Name

Hairdressers always seem to have the best business names!

When starting a new business, put care and effort into choosing a name. Changing it later can take time, effort and wind up confusing your existing customer base.

Choose a name that will be easy to market, that has meaning and that engages consumers.

Do some research and see if the name is already used elsewhere. Will you have I compete with them for use of the name? Will you have to work around them for registering for a website etc?

20130712-100725.jpg

A creative name can add impetus to your small business venture

Small Business: 5 More Great Marketing & Promotional Tips

Image Source: 123rf.com

Image Source: 123rf.com

1. Consider Your PR.

PR (Public Relations) is the path to success. Many marketing firms will focus solely on lead generation, gauging their success based on those numbers alone. While lead generation is important, a focus on PR ensures that a business also generates image and brand recognition. As any first year marketing student can tell you, this in itself is a means to generating leads.

PR can take a multitude of forms. One of the most common is the “Press Release” which often takes the form of new product or service announcements. This is a highly budget-minded means of generating strong leads.

“Once, for less than $100, I wrote, printed and distributed a new-product release to 100 trade journals. Within six months, the release had been picked up by 35 magazines and generated 2,500 bingo-card inquiries. -Robert W. Bly (SOURCE)”

Take advantage of press release materials by posting the content in a media or press section of your website (blogs work). Remember to consider SEO and optimize the press releases with key word and phrases to draw in organic search traffic.

Another means of generating good PR, is to back a not-for-profit (charity). Involving oneself with community and charitable events is an excellent means of creating a positive image for a brand. Consider pledging corporate support to local food banks, children’s clubs or other community minded initiatives.

Image Source: humor-kings.com

Image Source: humor-kings.com

2. Don’t Pay Too Much For Outside Talent.

It can pay off very well to hire freelancers and consultants. BUT ONLY if they can get results. Always, ALWAYS check credentials. Do not overpay amateurs.

Take time and research contractor fees. It is the 21st century, the internet exists and there is no excuse to not do the homework. For instance at the time of this writing the best advertising photographers, are making $1,000 a day at minimum. Are they worth it? The short answer is yes…. if the business is a fortune 500 and looking at running in Forbes, for just about anyone else it is like dropping a nuke on a cricket – a classic overkill.

“It is the 21st century, the internet exists and there is no excuse to not do the homework.”

As stated above, it is the 21st century, the digital age and there are numerous photographers that can do a good job for a reasonable price.

The same can be said for designers, content consultants, artists, copy-writers etc.

Look for someone whose expertise matches the specific need and budget at hand. Do not overspend.

Image Source: 123rf.com

Image Source: 123rf.com

3. If Possible (Learn To) Do it yourself.

Many tasks related to marketing, advertising and promoting a business can seem daunting at first. However the business-man on a budget must be willing to tackle them himself.

Distributing press releases, operating social media, updating company profiles or creating newsletters and other paraphernalia almost always be done in-house at a lower expense. Save the outside hiring budget for tasks that require special expertise.

“The business-man on a budget must be willing to tackle certain tasks himself.”

Very few small businesses have the budget to hire a full-time marketing manager. Instead consider contracting out certain marketing essentials (website updates, SEO, branding) to proven firms at a steady rate that you can afford. Then look at hiring a full or even part-time administrative assistant to handle the day-to-day details related to keeping communications flowing.

4. Fully Use All Existing Content.

Whether photos, illustrations, videos, articles, layouts and even onetime promotional copy can be used and then re-used elsewhere to hack back creative marketing costs.

For example: If you have paid for good product photography, use it everywhere possible, product catalogues, website images, monthly report covers, even stationary and email signatures. 

Don’t just toss away anything, If you gave thumbnails, concepts, sketches or layouts that weren’t used for “this project”

Small-Business-Marketing

time, hang on to them and use them with the next project. It will cut back the costs to develop from scratch.

5. Pay The Bills.

If this isn’t obvious, you will ALWAYS save money with vendors whom you have strong relationships with. Keep you vendors happy and they have a reason to protect your account. Not to mention saving the interest on late payments.

Okanagan Small Business Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.