Building your brand one customer at a time

“Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable,” said Geek Squad Founder Robert Stephens. This is a true and significant statement that really sets apart competitors in Australia’s highly crowded retail market.

Obviously, advertising is a key and necessary ingredient in all businesses marketing strategies, including Winning Group’s. However, it shouldn’t be relied upon as the main reason why people shop with you. People should remember you because of your reputation and not because of your mass advertising.

When you are an unknown entity, brand building is your main focus and advertising is essential and will help you attract customers for the first time, but it won’t help you to keep getting them back.

If you are a small to mid-sized business there’s no way that you can match the advertising budgets of the larger companies, but if you offer efficient and exceptional customer service you can challenge the big hitters and grow your business.

Trust that’s earned, followed by word-of-mouth is what will take your business to a new level. This is something I can speak from experience on, as when I started Appliances Online seven years ago, we were completely unknown and didn’t have the big ad spend of our larger competitors.

My strategy to grow the business was simple: if we can impress every customer with exceptional customer service then people will tell their friends and family. And we still follow that principle today.

Here are five brand building tips if you are about to start your own business and don’t have a big budget to spend on advertising:

1. Be authentic in developing your brand – be involved in the design of your logo and other company-facing materials. This will ensure that you stay true to your business goal and offering, which is something that your competitors can’t copy.

2. Create multiple channels for communications – create platforms for potential customers to engage with you and to offer you feedback. Do not rely on advertising alone, as it is one-way communication.

3. Build relationships – learn from customer feedback and if you change your business accordingly, you will gain the trust of people and repeat business through word-of-mouth advertising.

4. Keep your messages simple – if you have money to invest in advertising, make sure your messages are simple and demonstrate why you are different to your competitors. Australian’s are savvy shoppers and they will always look for a more enjoyable and reliable shopping experience, so they will try other options.

5. Make sure your advertising is measurable and effective. If you are advertising online, you can gauge success by viewing users who click through to your site and track those users who transacted. If you are advertising offline, make sure your customer service team or salespeople ask people where they heard about you or have unique offers attached to a 1300 number, for instance.

John Winning is CEO of the Winning Group, which includes Appliances Online, BigBrownBox.com.au, Winning Appliances, and Handy Crew.

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