No matter what industry you’re in here in Southwest Florida, it is critical that you dedicate a lot of time and thought to your branding. If you’re not doing this, you will fall behind your competitors and become obsolete in the marketplace. I’m sorry to lay it on the line so bluntly, but it is the truth. Especially in today’s market place where there is an overwhelming online stream of information, plus the traditional modes of advertising messages. Your audience is receiving all of this all of the time, so you have to stand out in the marketplace! Unfortunately, it is not enough to rely on referrals and great customer service. Of course those things are still critical, but if you’re lacking business or trying to grow your business, you need to start with an effective branding strategy. This is especially true for the small-to-midsize companies or the individual entrepreneur!
The good news is that here in Southwest Florida, the marketplace is small enough to make your mark and stand out – even with a lot of competitors. It just takes a good branding strategy and the help of a marketing professional.
Now that we are going into the last part of our winter season, this is a great time to start preparing a branding strategy for next season.
Here are some tips to help get you start building a branding strategy.
1. Take some time and decide what your core expertise is – don’t rush this step, so start now! You cannot be all things to all people, so this is a really important step. You’ll need to narrow down the focus and decide who is your best “lead” and what makes you an expert to that lead.
2. Look at your most successful competitors – especially the ones who seem to be everywhere in the marketplace! How do they brand themselves? What are you doing different from them and how can you take difference and STAND OUT!
2. Once you decide what your core expertise is and how you can stand out from your competitors, take that and create a branding look and feel. This is an identifying tagline or statement, and color palette or visual design that will identify you to your audience every time they see it. Hire a marketing consultant who can assist you in developing this branding message and look. Note: You may be tempted to just hire a graphic designer to assist you in developing this branding look. While a graphic designer is certainly skilled in the visual arts, a marketing consultant or company can offer you more expertise in crafting a full branding message and look, and then effectively directing a graphic designer to develop it. Many marketing consultants/companies have access to a number of graphic designers to assist in developing a full branding toolkit for you. Also, don’t forget to update your logo if needed. Your logo should reflect your branding strategy. Also, think about upcoming “anniversaries” or special business milestones giving cause to develop a special edition logo – one that will stand out and get noticed!
3. Once you develop the branding message and look, you’ll need to develop online and offline promotional materials to support that message and look. If you engage in online tools such as Blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or advertise online on Yelp, Angie’s List or use any other social media, you’ll want to ensure that your pages all reflect your message and look. If you aren’t engaging in these tools (you should be) yet and you need to develop an online presence with your branding, your marketing consultant/company can assist you in doing this. Be sure that any content you post online reflects your brand at all times and be sure monitor your online reputation! Any print advertising should also reflect your branding. Be sure to update any and all advertising you’re doing to reflect your branding. Don’t forget to update your business cards and stationary as well. Your branding is not just a pretty “look” – it is a recognizable brand that will identify you to your potential leads.
4. Lastly, once you’re branding is out in the marketplace, don’t forget to track leads, comments or anything that shows positive proof of your efforts. Be sure to catalogue your accomplishments and acheivements as well.
While this may seem like a bit of an undertaking, the right marketing consultant/company can help you get on the right track!
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