Five Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask to Get a Maximum Return on Branding Spend

By Doug White, Chief Analytics Officer, West Cary Group, and Polly White, Small Business Expert

Moses Foster, president and CEO of West Cary Group, once said, “A brand is a promise that, when kept, delivers preference – and sometimes forgiveness.”

There is real value in a strong brand – and we don’t mean purely monetarily. Certainly, a powerful brand can enable your business to sell products or services at a premium. However, it can also make a big impact within your company, among consumers and in your marketplace. A solid brand helps you:

  • Establish consumer loyalty. When consumers come to you, they need to have a consistent brand experience, or they won’t hang around for long. Loyal customers are the keepers. A 2014 BIA/Kelsey and Manta joint report stated that repeat customers spend, on average, 67 percent more than new ones.
  • Instill a productive company culture. If you don’t know what you’re working toward, how can you do your best work? Shockingly, according to a Gallup poll, only about 41 percent of employees know what their company stands for. Clarify your vision, and team members will know the reason why they’re in the trenches – and why they love it. Then say hello to attracting and retaining high-quality employees.
  • Separate yourself from your competitors. Now is not the time to stand among the wallflowers at the school dance. Walmart is just a department store, but Sam Walton reimagined it by bringing it to the ‘burbs. Burt’s Bees is a natural skin care product, but it’s based on a philosophy that aligns with the Greater Good. Figure out what makes you unique and flaunt it; it can be one of your greatest assets.

The question then becomes, how do you build a brand cost effectively? Fortune 500 companies pay high-powered consultants millions of dollars to help them figure out the answer. Yet the money they spent on branding can be a very effective investment or a complete waste. We’ve seen both.

The ultimate trick (or lack thereof) is turning to the data. To make sure your branding dollars are well spent, we suggest answering five core questions:

1. What message do I want to communicate? A brand is much more than a logo or a tagline. It’s every thought that people conjure when they see or hear something that identifies you, your company, or your product or service. You want those thoughts to be positive and compel them to make a purchase. 

Figure out clearly and concisely why a prospective customer should buy your product or service over your competitor’s. If you can’t answer this question, your prospective customers won’t be able to answer it, either. Once you do, you have your unique selling position and your message.  

2. Have I done a proper analysis of my target market? Here is where a tremendous number of entrepreneurs fail. Is there a segment that values your differentiation and is large enough to support your business? Create a demographic profile. Assess consumer geography, psychographics and lifestyle. And don’t discredit a simple Google Trends hunt – it uses data to help you measure consumer search behaviors and will show you where the audience hotspots are in real time.

Next Week, Part Two: Five Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask to Get a Maximum Return on Branding Spend

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