This month: Build your brand through quality and common sense

I AM SURE YOU have invested much time and hard-earned money to create the product or service you currently offer your customers. The last two columns focused on establishing clear communication with your customer base with some practical considerations … putting together an effective ad to talk to your customers, and then deciding the best media options for getting your brand message across to them.

We will now examine a few more ideas to further build your brand and grow your business. They can be simple measures that will not necessarily take any significant financial investment, but will involve a committed and determined investment of your time.

Excel at delivering your brand promise

This can be achieved in two ways: a memorable in-store experience and superior service. The customer has seen your advertising messages and on that basis has walked into your store with certain expectations. This is the moment of truth. Will your ‘brand promise’ deliver against those expectations? Now is the chance to go that extra mile to make sure your customer leaves absolutely satisfied with your brand offer, and with full intentions of returning again in the future.

Going that extra mile could mean: carrying Mrs Jones’ groceries out to her car because she is getting on a bit and does not have the strength she once had.

Taking the time to carefully answer all the questions regarding your customer’s new purchase and then, as a freebie, including that little ‘extra’ something as an appreciation of their patronage. The little extra something could be as simple as a discount voucher of some kind valid for a future date, thus ensuring their return should they wish to use it.

Another extra could be personally delivering a box of chocolates or some flowers to the home of an irate customer to reinforce the fact that you are genuinely sorry for an inconvenience caused.

Actions like these cost very little in monetary terms and have huge potential to win customers for life.

Make sure your brand consistently offers the best possible quality. Sometimes one has to ‘invest’ in the brand at the expense of short term profitability in order to build a sustainable quality brand for the long term. If the widget you sell needs an extra wheel because customers are asking for it … do it; make the investment. It may cost a little extra but will pay for itself many times over in the long run.

If your product or service offers consistent quality and the shopping experience matches that level, then over time the price becomes less of an issue – it is offset by the positives in dealing with you and your brand. Your customer will feel… ‘I am prepared to pay the few extra dollars because I know I will be completely satisfied with my purchase and they make me feel special in the way they treat me ’

A happy customer is a returning customer

Ask your customer what they think and feel about your brand .This is effectively the beginning of building your own customer research information pool. It will often uncover barriers to entry or purchase, or confirm positives for continued purchase. This will help you to refine and improve your overall offer. It all goes toward understanding who your customer is and what is important to them. Apart from the fact that you will gain valuable information to help grow your business, your customer will think well of you for taking the time to talk to them, thus earning their respect and ultimately their trust. You will recall from an earlier columns that one of the key building blocks for any brand is TRUST.

Actively market your brand ’internally’

It is vital that your vision for the business and the brand positioning strategy is shared with your staff. Once involved they will readily understand where you want to take the business and be able to effectively translate that learned knowledge into the type and quality of service that your customers deserve.

Brand building is as much to do with common sense and the way we treat people as it is to do with obeying a few basic rules. Brand building:

  • gives you differentiation in the market place
  • is a great vehicle to communicate and build promotions
  • builds a goodwill factor into your balance sheet [ultimately that translates to a dollar value]
  • encourages customer recall and self selection
  • allows a higher price to be charged over time
  • helps to build customer loyalty
  • helps you add associated products to your offer and piggy back on your brand recognition.
  • will build a strong image for your business

Decide your plan, stay with your plan, execute your plan well and remember….

‘That some achieve great success is proof that others can do it as well’ Abraham Lincoln