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Posts Tagged ‘branding’

5 Ways to Develop a Killer Brand for Your Small Business and Startup

Monday, January 24th, 2011

As a small business or startup there is a constant challenge of developing a brand for your business.  Unlike large companies like Coke and Apple, small businesses and startups do not have the resources to invest the time, money and effort to build a brand through advertising.  So these businesses are left to rely on my scrappy tactics to develop and grow their brand.  Of course with all of the large, medium and small competitors, it can be difficult to elevate your small business above the noise that is out there.   Here are a few tips that can help your small business build your brand and show that you can be trusted to deliver for your customers:

1. Give Each Customers an Experience: Think about the great brand experiences that are out there today.  There are product experiences like Apple and Zappos.  Then there are city experiences like Las Vegas.  All evoke a certain type of experience when you interact with those brands (yes, I am calling Las Vegas a brand!). So when your business interacts with your customers, treat them to an experience.  What type of experience you may ask?  How about “white glove” treatment from beginning until end where you make every effort to anticipate your customer’s wants, needs and desires.  This is not an easy thing to accomplish, but just making this type of effort will ensure you try to create a good customer experience for your customers.

2. Every Interaction Should Make an Impression:  So this is taking point #1 above and breaking it down.  Think about your customer’s touch points for your business.  Now think about how you interact with your customers at every touch point.  Is it the first time they reach your website? The first time they call your office?  An email inquiry about your product or a meeting at a trade show?  A conversation over Twitter? Now try to aim to make every experience with your customers one that they will remember.  I am not advocating something over the top. I am merely advocating taking special care of the customers at every interaction with your business.  For example, talk to your customer, listen to them, and take the time to say that you value them as a customer. Always remember find a way to go the extra mile to help your customers life a little easier or happier.  That is why every email should be thought out, every entry point to your website considered so you can get into the mind of a customer and make a good impression at every point with them.

3. Help Your Customers & They Will Talk About Your Business: Building on points #1 and #2, if you make an impression and give customers a great experience, you will give your customers reasons to talk about your business, service or product.  What better way to build your brand by having your customers be your brand messengers to potential customers and leads that are out in the community.  That is why the more you go out of your way to build up credibility and trust with your customers by repeatedly beating their expectations, the easier it is for those customers to tell the world about buying from your small business.

4. Promote Your Customer’s Successes:   We have found at Kikscore one of the best ways to help ourselves and our brand is by promoting our own customers.  We have done that by finding every opportunity to promote our customers through various avenues like our blog, on Twitter and by supporting them at every opportunity.  One of ways we have done that is by giving our customers a forum on our own blog to tell their own small business success stories.  What can you do?  Take your customers’ successes and help them tell the world.  If your product, service or company was involved with that success, that is even better for you.

Bottom line: Sell yourself by promoting your own customers!

5. Always Aim for a Consistent Message & Customer Experience: One of the biggest enemies of a strong band is an inconsistent message and uneven customer experience.  Do you treat customers differently?  Is your product simple to use, but your marketing copy and help materials complex and too wordy?  How about your customer service – is it very responsive over the phone, but slow or non-existent on Twitter and Facebook?  The key is to make sure that the way that your customers interact with your business and startup is in a consistent manner across all channels.  This consistency is critical to ensure a brand that does not create mixed messages with customers.  A cohesive and consistent brand is hard to create, but it is imperative to achieve to build a great brand.

While small businesses may not have the same resources as large companies, they do still have the ability to build a strong band without paying a huge sum of money.  But the monetary investment is replaced with a huge human investment in time, effort, messaging and customer service.  That human investment if deployed carefully and deliberately across all parts of a small business or startup can pay major dividends. The trick is studying your business, your customers and the touch points and then developing a branding plan and executing on it.

These are just some of the ways to develop a great brand for your small business or startup.  Let us know if you have any tips in the comment below.

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Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Does Your Twitter Profile Picture Really Matter if You are a Business?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

So we at KikScore have our brand name and a picture of our logo as our Twitter picture (avatar is shown above).  It has suited us just fine over the last six or so months as we have been on Twitter after we launched KikScore.  We really have not received many complaints or even questions about our Twitter profile picture.  Frankly that is not surprising as we would expect the Twitter universe to ask us other questions if they came across KikScore – like tell me more about your product, or what is your background or give us comments like you have a cool service and homepage etc (all actual questions and comments received on Twitter).

In a prior post, we posed a question whether it is better for your company to have a personality on Twitter?  We generally came out with the answer that a personality is good because it gives the community, your customers and your followers something to identify with when they think of your business.  For example, if you spark a conversation, express an opinion on matters, have funny tweets, retweet interesting content, it probably will be good for your brand as people know what you stand for as a business.  If your customers and the community know more about your company, the greater the chance that a bond/relationship can form between you and your customers.

So what about your company’s Twitter profile picture?  Should you have a your brand logo or should you put a real person in your Twitter profile?  I have now heard from multiple people at numerous events and conferences – these would be the social media gurus that live and breathe social media everyday – who almost all suggest having a picture of a real person along with your company’s logo.  They suggest the person pictured could be your social media manager, a group picture of some of the folks from the company or maybe even a rotating picture of different employees every 60 days or so.

Why do they recommend this?  I have heard psychologically that customers, the community and people in general will generally identify more with a person’s face than a picture of a company’s brand name.  I actually think there may be some merit to that.  Think about it. If you see a logo, it is generally nameless and faceless and has no personality.  It is just a logo and you really do not get much of a connection with that logo.  Logos can even become largely interchangeable after you see enough of them.  Now change that logo, even to someone that has a picture of a real person standing in front of a company’s logo and make that a Twitter profile picture – you will probably get my attention.  First, you get a sense of who is behind the Twitter account for that company.  Second, you can now in some ways put a face to a brand name.  Thirdly, I have to say this because I do this even now – when you think of that brand name you actually think of that person’s face.  So in some ways a picture of a real person with a logo could appear to create a great connection, even if it is just a subtle psychological one.

So where does this all lead us?  Look out as I think we will be changing our Twitter profile picture for KikScore later this week.  I will make sure its not a picture of me because that will scare too many people off.  Lets see if it makes a difference to people and if we get any reactions. We will let you know.

Do you think who or what is on your Twitter profile picture matters for a business?

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Posts Tagged ‘branding’

KikScore & the Pittsburgh Steelers Promoted on the Same Pickup Truck? – My Worst Nightmare

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Disclaimer, this is a vacation post (yes, I am out on vacation from my day job but KikScore never stops!) but I had to discuss what happened this weekend. This post is really about branding your business and how you sometimes have no control over how your customers will sing your praises.

My 5 month old daughter, Asha, made her first trip this weekend to see her grandma, uncle, aunt and cousins in my wife’s hometown just outside of Pittsburgh, PA.  Great idea, seeing the family, getting out of DC for a weekend and spending some time on my mother-in-law’s beautiful farm.  It actually was a lot of fun, even having my brother-in-law make fun of me when I made the crazy comment asking why does the backyard have so many rattlesnakes – are they attracted to the the vegetable garden back there.  Uh…..how many snakes do you know are attracted to vegetables over perhaps some chipmunks, small rodents etc that usually populate most farms?

So where does KikScore  and branding come in?  We had just arrived Friday afternoon on the farm.  I was pulling our car into the farm when my saw my wife’s family pick-up truck.  The truck was parked there outside the farm house and I had to snap the above picture.  So on the right hand side of the bumper is everything I have grown up to detest in an important part of my life – football – that would be the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Yes, when you grow up outside Cleveland, Ohio you are indeed taught that at a young age.  Then on the left side of the bumper is the gorgeous bumper sticker, of a company that I passionately give my blood, sweat and tears to every day – KikScore.

So on that one side of the bumper I see something I enjoy mocking and on the other side is my pride and joy.  So there I was – what do I say or feel?  I just had to laugh and be super proud that my family has so unconditionally adopted KikScore to the point that my mother-in law greeted us when we arrived in her KikScore baseball cap.

So what is the point of this post.  That sometimes your small business or your startup can not decide/control how your customers decide to evangalize your brand.  When you see your brand out there be promoted like this, just smile, laugh and be proud.  And also be sure to say thanks as I did when we pulled away from the driveway late yesterday right before we started our 4 hour ride home.

Have you seen your business being promoted in a similar way?

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