Your small business needs an identity that your customers can easily repeat to other people interested in your services. This is your Brand Banner and it is one of the most powerful weapons in your marketing arsenal. After you’ve uncovered the who of your brand, the next step is determining where your Brand Banner is planted relative to the competition. Only then can you really bring in your People and Package resources to effectively market your Brand to prospects, and reinforce your brand position to your customers and your employees.
If you don’t know where your brand is positioned in relation to your competitors, then no matter how well-written and executed your marketing and promotion plans are they are apt to steer you and your time and your money and your labor in the wrong direction.
If that’s the case, at least your competitors will be happy.
Often, marketers talk about how to “position” their product or service as if they are mind-controllers who actually determine where inside her brain a prospective customer will shelve the company’s brand. But this is one magic trick not easily pulled off; and there’s a vital point to remember for the small business owner.
Let’s imagine our marketing efforts are analogous to a person on a lake in a boat. Our brand is our boat. If we had a motorboat and were out on that lake, then we could just point our boat toward a point on shore of our choosing, thrust the throttles full ahead and–because we are under our own power–we’d head exactly in that direction.
But unfortunately we marketers don’t have a motorboat. We’re crewing a sailboat. Our small company’s brand is powered by the winds of people perception. One obvious wind is the picture of our brand held by the decision-maker(s) who have the power to actually buy our product. But often overlooked by companies, large and small, are the gusts provided by our referral sources; both customers and employees. A successful marketer must learn to tack with different winds in order to arrive at her destination–the safe shore of a sale.
Ever see a big company waste millions of dollars on advertising, trying to shove their position into a customer’s mind? Think of all the money the dot-coms spent a few years ago, trying to do just that. Well-paid executives with millions of dollars in ad budget mistakenly thought they were driving motorboats. Most sunk, because they didn’t learn that you can’t just buy your way into a person’s mind.
Of course both your People and your Package components will need to be brought into play to support your Brand’s position, but first it is absolutely critical to understand where that position is. The good news is that most of your competitors probably don’t know where their brand is in relation to you and their other competitors.
The bad news is that this state won’t last. An existing competitor will become a smarter marketer, or a new player with a deep knowledge of their brand’s place will enter the arena. Either way, it’s pressing for you to understand where your small company’s brand is at, now.