Step 3: Brand It
Editor’s note: This is the third of eight installments for SUCCESS’s 3rd annual Start Small Win Big entrepreneur challenge. Check out last week’s installment.
More than just marketing, your business’s brand is its personality. What you think of your product or service isn’t what’s important; it’s what customers think of when they think about your business that matters most. So why not start there?
This week your homework is to find out what people really think of your brand. Here’s what to do:
• If you’re just getting ready to start your business, you can create an informal focus group. Tap into acquaintances of friends and family members (just make sure they fall into your target demographic market). People who don’t know you are more likely to be honest with you than Mom and Dad or your BFF, who won’t want to hurt your feelings.
Provide your focus group members with something in return, like a free lunch, cash or an Amazon gift card. Then spend an hour asking open-ended questions about what they think of the elements of your brand, including:
-Your business name
-Your logo and/or tagline
-Your website’s design
-Your product packaging
Give them samples to look at and encourage open discussion. Record the focus group so you can refer to what was said later.
• If your business is already off the ground, your task is easier but just as important. Look at what people are saying about you or your entity online via social media or online ratings and review sites. Conduct a series of brief online surveys, or hold a customer focus group. The point of this exercise is to find out whether your perception of your brand jibes with your customers’.
Questions to ask include:
-How would you describe this business in one word?
-What do you think is the “personality” of this business?
-What would you tell a friend about this business?
-What makes this business different than/better than [competitor name]?
-What is the No. 1 reason you do business with us?
You may find out that while you probably focus on your products or services when describing your brand, customers are more likely to focus on how it all helps them. Marketing based on benefits is much more effective than marketing that emphasizes features. (If you were buying a car, would you be more excited about one that uses fuel-injection technology, or one that saves you $200 a month on gas? The first is a feature; the second is a benefit.)
Once you’ve gathered customers’ impressions of your brand, compare them with yours and make the necessary changes so that the brand you’re conveying is the one you want customers to see.
Share in the comments below: What opinions about your brand surprised you the most? What do you plan to do with that feedback?