Cultivating more consumers who buy more, more often, & tell their friends!
However small your brand may currently be, whether you realize it or not, it has something profoundly in common with global mega-brands like Apple, Google, and Coca-Cola. At one time they were startups and growing brands just like yours!
At this point, you may not have much of a marketing budget, but you too can position your brand to be one of the best in the world. First, there are some key insights that you must become familiar with. You can start by reading Advertising Is A Lifestyle and The 6 Secrets of Strong Brands to get a sense of the approach and key success factors. Then, here’s how to start building a great brand with no budget.
1 - Be great at what you do.
Be head and shoulders above the competition so that, if nothing else, a buzz builds about the quality and the overall experience of using your product.
2 - Articulate what you sell in a way that makes it (even more) special.
Frame the conversation about your product in a way that has total integrity, but that accentuates the perception that there is something special and unique about it. (e.g. If you sell eggs, tell your consumers that they come from the most loved chickens on the planet.) Also, be sure to communicate both your product’s features/benefits and the emotional impact that it delivers. Understand that presenting an emotional “frame” around the functionality of your product is the way to maximize brand equity.
3 - Innovate.
To get and stay on top over the long term you’ve got to figure out ways to perpetually create new layers of “special and different” about your consumer experience. Innovation around your product, the way you deliver it, and the manner in which you market it are at the heart of achieving this objective.
4 - Be uber consumer focused.
Bend over backward to delight every single consumer you come in contact with. Make them fall in love with both your product and with you. Endeavor to make every consumer experience a special one.
5 - Embrace the challenge and power of social media.
For companies with great products and customer service, and without lots of money for traditional marketing, social media can be enormously powerful to spread the word to build your brand and business. Start a blog, create a Facebook page, Tweet generously, launch a Pinterest page etc. The ROI on a sustained and strategic social media effort can be mind boggling.
6 - Become the face of your brand.
If you’ve got the personality and charm to do so, being the face of your brand can go a long way toward growing your business and enhancing your product’s overall value proposition. Every time you go to the grocery store, for example, becomes an opportunity to spread the news about your brand. Understand that a positive relationship with you - adds to the value proposition of your product.
7 - Become a more prominent part of your communities.
Whether its your neighborhood, your church, your alma maters, your kids’ schools and teams, or other organizations you are a member of, leverage your communities to create awareness and to spread the word. Think about every community you’ve ever been a part of - or have relationships in - and increase your presence there to market your brand. Just get involved and create meaningful ways to connect with others who will get a chance to know you and what you do.
8 - Create a system to encourage referrals.
Referrals can be an invaluable source of new business growth. Most, naively, think of referrals in passive terms, just waiting for them to organically occur. While the great work that you do with your core product will generate word of mouth marketing in and of itself, creating a process that actively encourages your consumers to tell their friends about your brand will only accentuate the positive and increase the yield on your hard work.
9 - Explore strategic partnerships with bigger brands and companies.
Look for smart ways to ride the success, momentum, or scale of a strategic business partner. Co-marketing, co-branding, cross promotions, retailer programs, etc., if done thoughtfully, can powerfully extend your brand’s reach. Just be sure that mixing your brand with another makes sense and is additive to your consumers’ overall experience. Remember, every consumer touch point either builds or erodes your brand. Be in control of as many of them as you can to ensure you are heading in the right direction.
10 - Save your pennies to one day scale!
To really leverage points 1 - 9, save your money to one day invest in spreading the word even farther about your brand via an integrated strategic marketing plan. Once you've bootstrapped your brand to initial success, you then may be ready to 'bolt on' more traditional marketing and media components to take your business to the next level.