Last chapter, I introduced a very basic marketing principle: know your customers.
Hopefully, I did a good job of emphasizing why it’s the very first thing you should do, and you took that advice to heart.
In fact, I’m hoping that you completed the two exercises that I laid out for you.
If you did, you’re likely chomping at the bit to take the next step on your marketing journey and create a connection with your prospects and customers.
Well, the best way to do this is through storytelling.
Why? Because storytelling is an age-old practice that brings people together and keeps them engaged.
And best of all, it works for businesses of all sizes and across all industries.
Which means good stories give small businesses like yours big voices.
That’s why it’s essential that you take the time to develop your brand and cultivate your company’s story before you map your customer’s journey, create your marketing plan, or choose a traffic channel…
Think about it. It doesn’t matter if you have grand plans to:
- Produce videos.
- Write copy for a pay-per-click ad.
- Or create a free online guide (like this one).
Your goal is to
sell capture your target audience’s attention.
Which is very-very hard to do nowadays.
The reason is that on a daily basis, people just like you and me are bombarded with advertisements and promotional offers at every turn.
Which means if you fail to develop your brand and cultivate your company’s story, your message will get lost in the shuffle.
So we’re going to share WHAT branding is and HOW you can get started today.
What is Branding?
Believe it or not, branding is not about your logo.
Nor is it about your color scheme.
In fact, these two are just extensions of your branding efforts.
“So what is branding then?”
Glad you asked.
Simply put, branding is what your values are and what you believe in. It’s the experiences you want your customers to receive when they do business with you.
And the truth is you already have a brand – whether you realize it or not.
So the question bears asking, is your brand well-defined?
The reason why I ask this seemingly simple question is because I know that having a well-defined brand:
- Gives you a competitive edge and separates your company from the pack.
- Allows you to confidently communicate your value to customers.
So if you’re having trouble understanding and defining your brand, look no further.
The four-step framework below will help you do just that.
Let’s get started.
Step One: Take a Look at Your Competition
One of the easiest ways to differentiate yourself from your competition is to examine their shortcomings.
It sounds harsh, but it’s true.
To do this, head over to a popular review website, pull up your competition’s profiles and read all the one-star views they’ve received.
What you’ll likely find are the same few complaints over and over again…
Don’t believe me? After you’ve surveyed your local area, pull up a few companies that are in your same industry, but located in another city.
The same complaints will appear.
So how can you learn from their mistakes?
Well, hidden in these one-star reviews lies the dark underbelly of your industry.
So pay attention and take notes.
Once you know how your competition is failing their customers, you’ll be in a position to leverage this information to your advantage.
Remember that in addition to solving your customers’ most pressing problems, you want to provide your customers with incredible experiences.
A quick and easy way to do this is to infuse solutions to these service-related complaints into your messaging:
- If your competition doesn’t show up on time, you can promise to show up within a 2-hour window and call when you’re on the way.
- If your competition doesn’t respond to calls or emails, you can promise to get back in touch with them within 30 minutes.
- If your competition unexpectedly bills their customers, you can offer transparent pricing and a simple booking process online.
See where I’m going with this?
Turn industry-wide issues into unique selling points for your company and communicate that clearly in your copy.
If you do this correctly, you’ll become a knight in shining armor.
Step Two: Take a Look Within
I know you’re itching to get started with your very first marketing campaign, but I’m going to ask that you pump the breaks…
And stop thinking like a marketer.
Stop trying to sell your service, and instead, put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
Why should they care about what you have to say?
Remember that brand stories are not about you.
They’re not marketing materials, they’re not ads, and they’re not sales pitches.
Brand stories are a relationship-building tool and should be told with your company’s personality at center stage.
Boring stories won’t attract your audience and keep their attention.
Stories brimming with personality will.
So take a look at your company. There are likely things you’re doing very well and things you can improve on.
When you communicate with your audience, be honest about your company. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and share what motivates you and your team to wake up and come to work every day.
Give people a glimpse at the hard-working people behind your company and tell them what type of customers find value in working with your business and why.
Being transparent in your communications will help you establish common ground with your audience and attract the right type of customers to your business.
Step Three: Set Yourself Apart
You now have a clear understanding of what your competition is doing well (and not so well).
You’ve also established what your values are as a company, what you believe in, and what the experiences you’d like to create for customers are.
Now it’s time to highlight what makes you special.
You’ll want to focus on questions like “WHAT makes us different from other companies?”
And tie those answers to benefits, like “WHY would our customers care?”
Here’s an example:
- Differentiator: I am a one-man team.
- Benefit: My clients will enjoy the peace of mind of dealing with me (the owner), who handles their service, every time we do business.
Make sense? Great.
Now it’s time to write your own, but first a word of advice.
You should have no more than three key differentiators.
Limiting yourself to three will keep you focused and your communications concise.
Step Four: Unify Your Brand
The last step is to unify your brand online and offline.
It’s imperative to remember that your brand and its story are communicated by you (and your team) everywhere and at all times.
So the next time you’re on the phone with a client, at an appointment, or even in public while wearing your uniform…
Remember that you are representing your company.
If you promise one thing online but deliver something else in person, you’re looking for trouble.
Hopefully, this gentle reminder encourages you to keep your company’s identity unified and consistent across the board.
Failure to do so will leave your prospects and customers confused at best, and pissed off at worst.
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Erik is a seasoned digital marketer and currently the marketing lead at GorillaDesk. Downright obsessed with digital marketing for over 6 years now, Erik strives to help field-service professionals understand and implement a smarter, more efficient marketing strategy into their business.
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