During the last 18 months, small businesses got hit faster. Generally, the most meaningful response to any such crisis is to stop all marketing expenses. This could be a big mistake.
Here are some ideas on recovering from the terrible phase, which all small businesses faced. These super tips will help you get back to your feet faster and can help you grow your brand even during the low phase.
1. Know your customer
Most branding strategies begin with market research. Know your customers — who they are, what they need, and also what they’re not getting from businesses right now. This can help you tailor-fit your branding to the audience you have and the one you want to build.
2. Believe in Branding
Branding is not a buzzword. It is a way of life. Your corner barbershop needs it and Airtel also needs it. Either you believe in it, or you believe in unplanned death. Start spending on Branding now-so you never have to face this situation again.
It is a myth that only big companies can indulge in brand-building exercises. Big companies have become big because they did a lot of brand building when they were small.
3. Why you are unique
Of all the brands in your niche, why should customers shop with your brands? Identifying a USP, or unique selling point can help you sharpen your business’s identity. If you can make a clear argument for why customers should shop with your brand, it can be easier for your customer to choose. It is also easier to develop other elements — like packaging, graphic design, tagline, and logo.
4. Develop a Sense of Community
Responding to customers on social media, hosting a comments section on your website, or getting involved in your local community can all have a big impact on how people feel about your business.
Every small action, which sends a positive signal to the outside universe, is Branding and every negative signal you send out has to be compensated by at least ten positive signals. This math is simple. Start small, but connect to the community in some way.
5. Create more Content
Content marketing can be a powerful brand-building tool. For example, a consistently updated blog can continuously provide customers with value while strengthening your brand voice. Content will also help drive traffic to your business’s site — potentially encouraging new conversions and sales. You should consider yourself as a media company. More content you will produce, awareness, and interest for your brand will go up proportionately.
6. Try Offline advertising
While most businesses put the bulk of their marketing effort into online advertisings, offline advertising or physical marketing can give you disproportionate results. Print signs, while simple, are often effective at highlighting deals or showing off new promotional. I saw a new promotional leaflet from Sarda Milk, which was given along with every bottle of the milk. It generated a huge amount of interest and new clients for the company. Promotional deals through newspapers inserts or even strategically placed hoardings opposite railway stations have improved sales of local brands. Digital versions allow you to dynamically update displayed graphics throughout the day, and interactive signage is rapidly becoming a key strategy for building local brands.
7. Use Social Media
Most modern small businesses depend on social media in one way or another. Having an account on one or more of the major platforms is a great way to get the word out about new marketing campaigns. Do not use social media because it is cheap, use it to create awareness and engage with your customers. At present, all social media advertising is underpriced. This is the best time to advertise on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results. You can write blogs, make audio and video content- but be present regularly in digital space. Most conversions are converted through video content followed by audio and text content.
8. Find new ways to reach customers
Traditional advertising has stopped working (E.g. TV, press radio, outdoor) You have to find new ways to reach your customers.
Think of modern retail, multiplexes, Google advertising, social networking sites, fan clubs, loyalty programs, in-film advertising, e-mail, mobile marketing, and the list grows.
9. Know your competition
When building your brand, you must also follow the branding efforts of your competitors. Researching the competition will show you how others are branding themselves. This will make it easier for you to stand out while also providing hints on how you can appeal to customers in your segment.
There is an old saying “ keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer”
10. Do you need research?
Small companies do not need big research. Big companies use research as a safety net. As Peter Van Stock, CEO of Jonas Soda says “Focus groups are like toilet papers. They are only used to cover your ass”.
In case, you need to know some basic insights, just talk to your ten best customers. That is all the research you need.
11. Public Relation
PR (public relations) is the most underrated branding tool. Advertising will create awareness, PR will sell the product.
In a small business, the CEO is the key PR person.
Sell your company through social communities, business forums, and networking. One Owner-CEO of a small company admitted that he spends almost two hours a day only networking. Golden rule-network and network more.
12. Marketing Ethics
When you were small, you behaved because your mother was watching you. Now everybody is watching you. Don’t do anything which will make you uncomfortable if it comes on the front page of tomorrow’s “Times Of India.”
One final word- tomorrow’s business will be driven by three key traits-Empathy, ethics & being socially caring. Are you listening?
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About the author: Hemant is the Founder & CEO of branding and marketing firm ”Neeti Brand Accelerator” in Mumbai. He is a brand strategist and has worked with more than 150 brands during last two decades. He is also mentor and coach to SMEs and startups. You can visit the website www.www.neeti.biz. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org