If you want to market your business property without investing in full-on branding, these 5 basic principles are crucial to work through before you get going.
We talk a lot about the importance of smart branding and marketing. But both of these efforts require a budget when, in reality, many small businessesmuchh tight budgets are forced to do the best they can with nothing more than blood, sweat, and tears. Even that’s okay, but if you’re going it alone, you still need to make decisions ahead of time and work in an organized fashion to achieve long-term results. Spoiler: If you started from #5, you’re doing it wrong.
First of all, if this is the first article of ours that you’re reading, the first question you need to discover the answer to is why people buy brands at all.
We’ve addressed this topic from just about every angle on our blog, and this article sums up the issue particularly well. Generally speaking, almost no one buys a brand – they buy experience, status or feeling. That’s true of the clothes you buy and the rice you eat, whether you bought it at a local corner shop or a chain supermarket. Behind each of these options is an experience that impacts you, whether you’re aware of it or not.
In order to create an experience, you must first create an identity that people can get familiar with, connect to and create a relationship with. This identity is your brand.
The 5 principles that will guide you, always
To get down to business, let’s put aside the word “brand” for a moment, so we can look at the issue more simply. There is meaning behind every word you say and every choice you make. As a person, your truth is clear to you, even if you don’t shout it out loud. As a brand, you need to take the initiative to clearly define your truth so you can be consistent and clear, and people can get to know you and know what to expect from you. The following 5 principles will help you accomplish this. After defining things, these principles will help guide you in every thought and every action, whether writing on behalf of the brand or making joint decisions.
1. What’s my story?
Who are you? What do you believe in? What’s interesting about you?
That moment when you are asked to tell a bit about yourself so that someone else can get a first impression of you (job interviews, dates – forget it there isn’t really any difference) is a very important moment for people, as it is for a brand. Your story is a perfect opportunity for you to create familiarity with your target audience. After they’re familiar with you, it’s much easier for them to contact you and remember who you are. You can include in your story where you came from, how it all began, why you do what you do and much more.
Our tip: Keep your story interesting. It’s not a sales pitch, but a story.
2. What does your product (really) do?
What makes your product so kick-ass it deserves to be on display?
You know the story of the lemonade stand and the cold lemonade stand? (If not, it’s enough to know that both lemonades were cold, but only one was advertised as such.) Even if there are other competitors in your market, you can still claim ownership of some characteristic or another so that you’ll be the first to pop into the head of someone who wants to use your service or product.
Our tip: As someone responsible for your product and someone who understands it best, put functionality aside for a moment and think about how it fulfills a specific need for your target audience. In simpler words, don’t think about what it does, but what it’s capable of doing.
3. Who are your customers?
Who are you targeting? What’s important to them? What’s the best way to approach them?
You think you know a person – until you really know a person. The purpose of this stage is to understand who your service is really appropriate for in order to focus your marketing efforts. We aren’t talking about audiences as you might think of them (women between the ages of 25-65 who live in the city), but something deeper and more personal, which is based on true familiarity with the type of people you are trying to serve.
Our tip: Search online for templates of how to create a persona – a specific character that represents a segment of your target audience. Use it to understand your audiences on as personal a level as possible in order to leverage their personal traits when you approach them and offer them solutions to their problems.
4. Who are your competitors?
What’s happening in your market outside of yourself? What will work to your advantage and how can you use that advantage?
This is important for exactly the opposite reasons you might think – not in order to see what others are doing and copy them (or learn from them; just copying others is usually pointless), but in order to understand what they are doing wrong that we can do better – what separates us from them – and also to identify weak points in the market that no one else is covering. This is only made possible by doing deep research on our competitors.
Our tip: Don’t look at it as spying. It’s in both you and your competitors’ interests for the market to be as efficient as possible. It’s better for everyone to be part of a market in which everyone has their own niche and advantages instead of a market full of competitors who all do exactly the same thing.
5. Marketing and sales
How do we reach the right people and what’s the most precise message to use for them?
Many businesses tend to begin with this step, but that’s a big mistake that wastes their marketing budget on irrelevant messages and audiences. In reality, it’s only after we’ve completed all the steps related to our product or service and understood the market that we can get going with marketing and sales, whose goal is to get as much engagement as possible with the brand (which needs to translate into sales in the end, but it’s mostly wrong to focus only on making sales).
Our tip: Try to be as segmented as possible with messages that are audience-specific and personal – as far as your budget and abilities allow. This could be on the level of running different campaigns for mothers and fathers (who respond to the same messages differently), or iPhone vs. Android users, carnivores vs. vegetarians, etc. The more successful you are with principle 3, the better. You’ll be able to do this step easier. General campaigns for general audiences generally don’t work as well, meaning they’ll cost more and bring fewer results. Take note of which of your campaigns are the most successful and how you worded the messages in them to generate engagement.
Marketing material – the kind you should be familiar with
These 5 principles are the base of our method of In-depth Branding, which is entirely unique to Streetwise. Its main point is the understanding that a brand is much more than a company’s graphic appearance, it is everything that happens within the framework of the points of interaction between the brand and the customer throughout the customer journey. This method is what stands behind all of the branding services we provide and behind the companies who outsource their marketing to us. You can read more about this method here.