What is your company’s brand? If you hesitated, you may be headed down the same path as many companies who tend to lose value their brand. Branding is something that holds significance like no other asset does. Value that cannot be taken from you, that is unless you allow your branding to take a backseat.
Bloomberg Businessweek writer Steve McKee writes in his article “Why So Many Companies Get Branding Wrong” (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-07/why-so-many-companies-get-branding-wrong), that “a brand is the only corporate asset that, managed properly, will never depreciate… a well-managed brand can increase in value year after year.”
A brand is not so much about the colors, logo design or slogan as it is how your brand presents itself to the public. For example, you can hire the best graphic designer to create a colorful fun logo that stands out, but if a customer has a bad experience in your store and tells their friends, your logo no longer matters.
McKee gives some examples in his article about brands that have done it right and brands that have done it wrong. One example about branding gone right was centered on a sporting goods store. The customer in the example bought a pair of sneakers and a few days later got a call from a friendly sales-rep to confirm she was happy with her purchase. A week or so after that, the customer received a gym bag in the mail to thank her for her purchase. This particular customer was so impressed with the brand that she raves about the store to all her friends and family. This store did it right, they branded themselves as a customer centric company that takes care of their clients during and after the purchase.
As the example shows, branding is not always about the colors or designs of your company’s website, but more about what the company’s personality emanates to its customers. Is your branding focused on a quality product? Is it focused on customer service? Or maybe your branding is more based around the customer experience while in the store? Whatever you choose as your branding scheme, always make sure to keep it priority one. Regardless of the newest marketing hype, continuously stick to the fundamentals of your brand. When the marketing strategy of the week is outdated, you will always have your brand.
Although it is not always relevant for small businesses, there is something to be said for user-generated marketing and its long term value in any business marketing mix. User-generated content is a term used to describe videos, pictures, blogs, discussions, posts, audio files, or any other forms of media that was created by the consumer towards a company.
This year will be big for user-generated marketing in the large companies, but small businesses should still pay attention and even incorporate some strategies into their daily social marketing tool box.
Companies with large marketing budgets have already started to saturate the user-generate content platform, as Jayson DeMers describes how Disney did it with the mobile app Vine, in his Huffington Post blog http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-demers/how-user-generated-content_b_4533000.html?utm_hp_ref=small-business&ir=Small+Business, but how can businesses with smaller marketing budgets capitalize on the strategy as well?
The first step in enabling user-generated marketing in any business is determining the specific users. One technique that DeMers references in his blog posting is about “targeted social media marketing.” This is something any business can accomplish with little budget needed. Instead of trying to occupy space on all social media available, focus on the social media that fits the product’s demographic. If the product or service you are selling is catering to a mature adult audience of 45-60 years of age, Facebook may be a better social media than Instagram which has an audience of teenagers and early 20’s.
Once a company can correctly situate their social media and their primary target market, they can begin to launch user-generated content campaigns. To be realistic, small businesses like a Hair Salon or Restaurant will never run a campaign as large as Disney, but these businesses still have large enough audiences to create a buzz in the community. To help with user-generated content campaigns, DeMers recommends using some newly developed apps to organize and manage social networks, schedule message blasts, and analyze media traffic.
A new year means a new clean slate. Small businesses should be paying attention to user-generated content marketing this year to gain that extra leverage on the competition. Consumers want their 15 minutes of fame, why can’t your company give that to them?