Customer-based brand equity: Earn trust and increase profits
The most valuable thing in your business may not be your building, your warehouse, or even your staff (although they are pretty darned valuable). The most valuable thing about your business may be your brand. We’ve written about the value of brand equity before, and how important it is for customers to trust your company. But you may be wondering just how, exactly, a busy entrepreneur can actually do that.
It’s well worth the time and effort to gain the trust of your customers with your brand. Inc. Magazine notes that businesses can increase their profits by 23% just by being consistent in your visual representation of your company.
Simple? Yes, but not necessarily easy. In fact, most businesses report that they are not very consistent with the story they want to tell to the world.
As you are reviewing your current state of marketing and thinking about your roadmap for the coming year, consider the steps that you’ll need to ensure your brand beats out the competitors.
To break the process down into understandable steps, consider the pyramid a marketing professor named Kevin Lane Keller came up with in the early 90s. It was part of his textbook, Strategic Brand Management That’s still being used today.
Brand Identity: Who Are You?
This is the base of the brand pyramid and the first step of building your brand. It may well be the most important step. If you have done your homework and gotten your strategic marketing roadmap together, building your brand is one of the primary pillars of that roadmap.
As an SMB, you may think having a strong brand is not as important as, say, Starbucks or GM….but you would be wrong! Everyone has competitors, and having a positive brand in the eyes of your customers is vital.
This is the stage where you decide not only what your story is, but how you want to represent it visually, and how you want to write about it. It’s important for your marketing team to know this information…but it’s just as critical for the person who answers your phone and the workers in your warehouse to know your story as well.
Brand Meaning: What Are You?
Once you’ve established your brand, you’ll need to focus your attention on your performance and refining your image. At this point, you should have an idea of how the customer perceives your product or service…from the ease of purchase to the quality of your customer service.
Here, you’re developing a relationship with your customers. In the best of circumstances, you will have done some research and identified your ideal customer, or what is called the target audience. Okay, so why is this important? Understanding exactly what your brand offers helps you refine your image as you consider your ideal customer. Think of your brand as a person. Who would your ideal customer say that person is? Authentic? Caring? Bold and risk taking?
It’s at this stage that you will be really letting your customers know who you are and what you stand for.
Brand Response: Start Spreading the Word
By now you should have developed a relationship with your customers and have an understanding around their mindset.As you develop your customer relationship, there may be both positive and negative feelings expressed about your business.
It’s a bit more difficult to measure how customers are responding to your brand, but very important that you respond to comments both positive and negative. Many of your customer’s opinions may be posted online on Facebook, Twitter or on any of the other countless social media platforms. Feedback could even be word of mouth — the channels are endless.
It’s important to note, that while it may take some time out of your day, responding to reviews is a necessary part in your overall brand strategy. Whether it’s thanking them or apologizing for a gap in service expectations, any response is better than none. Ignoring a response (even if you feel it’s off-base) will not make them go away, and further still, it could still impact how others feel about your brand or product.
If you’ve a positive review, that’s great news! But now’s the time to think about how you can go above and beyond what you’ve done in the past and exceed the customer’s expectations. No matter what the responses, pay attention to them and make changes in your SMB accordingly,
Resonance: We’re Going Steady
Customer-based brand equity reaches the pinnacle of the pyramid if you can get your customers to this stage. While it’s not easy to get here, if you do, you have officially created a relationship.
At this point, your customers will choose your business over competitors. They love your brand or product, your customer service, and all that you stand for. They might even pay a higher price for your product over the competition simply because they are loyal to you and know they’ll be treated well.
Gaining the trust of your customers through your business brand is one of the most important things that you can do as an SMB. Having a strategic, well-thought-out plan is key…and it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive.
The returns on having a strategy for your brand, however, can be great. If you are wondering where to start, we’ve got a short, free quiz that can give you an idea of how strong your marketing foundation is in a few key areas. We’ll get you your score so you can start thinking about where you want to take your SMB’s marketing.
Having a strong, high-quality brand takes time so be patient and more importantly… be consistent.
Tomato Fish Is An Indianapolis Consulting Company Focused On Helping Small And Midsize Businesses Make Good Strategic Planning Decisions.