Importance of Brand Marketing For Small Business Owners

Did you ever consider the fact why you buy an expensive branded product though you could easily get a non-branded product with similar or better functionality for much less!

This is often the magic of the brand name of a company that people believe and fall in love with. You do not always have the opportunity to test a product before buying. What do you do in this situation? You look for peer reviews of that product to find out which brand will serve your purpose better. This mostly happens when you are thinking about buying an expensive product.

So, how do companies respond to these issues when the prospective consumer does not have an opportunity to test a product before buying it? If there is a doubt in the prospective customer about the performance of the product, the chances of a sale is reduced. As a business owner, you cannot always expect that the prospective customer would have a chance to test it from other users. And even if he or she has the opportunity, this may also reduce the chances of another sale as the existing customer may not have a favorable opinion for your product.

And this is a big reason why most of the big business owners spend a lot of money in branding and brand loyalty development. Another important reason is that, once you develop a brand name, it works across different product range under the same brand and this boosts overall market presence and loyalty.

But how does a small business owner respond to similar problems? Do you think a small business owner should invest time energy and money in branding or brand loyalty development! Do these branding exercises have enough potential to payoff!

As far as my experience goes, investing into a proper and proactive brand development is must for any business owner – irrespective of business volume or reach. In any situation, your target market would naturally develop an opinion about your products and this may transform into your brand identity in near future. If you are not proactive in brand development, you will soon loose all controls over your brand’s overall development. As the business owner, this may turn out to be a big risk.

A lot of people say that branding exercises would cost a lot of money and most of the small business owners do not have enough to invest in such brand development exercises. However, I believe that a good strategy should not always be very expensive. And if the ROI is not good, you must discontinue following the strategy as it had been a poor strategy.

The expenditure of a branding strategy mainly depends on the volume and position of the target market that you want to reach. Big brands that sell directly to the mass, needs to reach a huge space in the shortest possible time and thus their expenditure is huge (and so is their return on investment). But as a small business owner, you normally do not have a huge market to target. I would rather say, as a small business owner you have the opportunity to be more specific about the target market. This also offers you the opportunity to offer selection specific message for better conversion.

Corporate Anniversary Events Drive Brand Marketing

Don’t ask, “What kind of an event should we have for our corporate anniversary?”

The right question is, “What series of events can we create and/or sponsor to drive our corporate brand marketing objectives over the course of our yearlong anniversary celebration?”

Your organization’s anniversary, whether or not it’s a multiple of 25 years, is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to increase the strength of your brand. Anniversaries are about your organization’s brand.

Marketing sage, David F. D’Alessandro, entitled his book Brand Warfare, then entitled the first chapter: “Rule One: It’s The Brand, Stupid.” Marketing starts with your brand. That’s where your anniversary planning must begin as well.

Events can drive your brand

So start with an understanding of your brand, and then create or discover events that can help market your brand.

Make this easier by asking two additional questions,

Whom do we have to reach?
What do we want to communicate?

In other words, who are my audiences and what is my brand message?

Your multiple audiences could include employees and their families, your sales force, the community or communities in which you are headquartered and have offices, your board of directors, the financial community, the news media, state and federal regulators, suppliers whose businesses are dependent upon yours, and more obviously, customers and clients.

Decide what events are most appropriate for each group. Which groups can be combined? What will be the scale of the events? What funds are available from marketing budgets or elsewhere to drive this strategy?

Person-to-Person is critical

Whenever possible, events should involve face-to-face encounters because events are about building and nurturing relationships. Events can be activities you create yourself as well as activities others create that you sponsor.

I was fortunate to help create some powerful brand building programs for my company around sports sponsorships that increased corporate brand awareness and sales.

As a Major League Baseball sponsor, we provided our top sales people with the opportunity to play fantasy baseball games with former baseball greats such as Rich “Goose” Gossage, Howard Johnson, Jim Rice and Ozzie Smith.

Olympic gold medal figure skater Peggy Fleming provided on the spot commentary as she and our guests watched a live video feed of Olympic ice skating competition.

I literally sat on the coattails of Dr. Henry Kissinger, Former US Secretary of State, as we rode from the airport in a too-small town car. His first undertaking was to call and let his wife Nancy know he had arrived. At our meeting the next day, Dr. Kissinger provided valuable insight into China at a time our company was seeking to expand sales there.

Include employees

Employees met and had their photos taken with Olympians including two-time gold medal winner Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic gold medal gymnast Shannon Miller, Olympic basketball star Rebecca Lobo and others who spoke to employee assemblies.

Each activity was about building the brand and was part of the company’s overall brand marketing plan and initiatives.

Both corporate and nonprofit organizations are similarly engaged in brand building initiatives. For its 125th anniversary, The Salvation Army draped an enormous banner over the entrance to its Greater New York Division headquarters in Manhattan and arranged a special lighting of the Empire State Building in The Army’s colors.

We helped the College of Nursing at the University of Rhode Island celebrate its 60th anniversary with a yearlong series of events under the theme “Preparing Nursing Leaders for 60 years.”

Match your target and your brand

Every year, companies sponsor sporting events and cultural events that match their target audiences with their brand marketing.

Sponsoring events offers a terrific opportunity to collaborate with organizations whose brand is compatible with yours. The leading source for sponsorship information, Sponsorship.com, lists over a dozen common reasons organizations sponsor events. The first three are brand related: increase brand loyalty, create awareness & visibility, change/reinforce image.

You will benefit from developing an event strategy to celebrate your organization’s anniversary over an extended period of a year or more because events drive brand. If they don’t drive your brand, don’t do them. Find or create events that will.

And one last story. As police with bomb-sniffing dogs surveyed the ballroom, former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher posed for photos with our sales people. Then, in that secured ballroom, she held our guests spellbound with her stories as sharpshooters kept guard from the spotlight towers.

Total Integration With a Brand Marketing Agency

A brand marketing agency is your safest bet if you want to enjoy maximum brand integration. Branding has to be continuously reinforced for it to matter. Branding does not just define how the market perceives you. It ensures that your customers see your company the way you want them to – and see it that way for good. When branding is mentioned, most people think that it only has to do with the logos you are using and your pricing strategy. But in truth, effective and long-lasting branding campaigns need to be more than that. They need to have an impact on every aspect of your business.

Name

Names are powerful. Your business brand name is the very foundation of who you are as a business. It is a must that you invest time and effort in carving a name for your business that conveys the purpose of what you intend to provide to your customers.

Graphic Design

This is something you should actually be quite careful about since the old adage about pictures speaking a thousand words remains true even in this day. One wrong choice of picture and you can lose your target market for good.

Website Design and Development

Every part of your website contributes to your branding strategy – especially if you have a target market that happens to be highly active online.

Is your website attractive to look at and easy to navigate?
Does it offer the services that your target market needs?
What interactive and recreational activities can it offer?

Social Media

The best way to reinforce your branding message is through social media, but you have to be very careful with this. You don’t really get a grace period to “erase” your mistakes once you commit them. Whatever you say or do can be immediately shared with a million of people on Facebook, retweeted on Twitter, and shared on YouTube.

In order to avoid embarrassing and preventable mistakes, it’s best to get professional help from a brand marketing agency. You can have them help you create a social media campaign and perform maintenance and evaluation to ensure that it’s still on track.

Customer Service

This is probably one of the most ignored aspects of brand strategy, which is unfortunate since customer service interactions also have the potential to exert a huge impact on your market. Unlike other marketing opportunities, customer service encounters actually involve possibly live and direct interaction between you and your market. You need to stay true to your brand in such encounters. When you do, your target market will voluntarily reinforce your branding message without any prompting from you.

Customer service encounters occur in a variety of forms, including:

How your agents greet customers upon receiving their calls or responding to their emails
What resolutions are offered for requests for refunds, returns, and exchanges
Operating hours for live customer service

Culture

Lastly, brand management is about creating a culture all on your own – without being discriminatory, of course. It’s about making people feel they’re lucky to belong to the culture you’ve created and you can do that more easily with the help of a professional and experienced brand marketing agency.

Choosing Your Brand Marketing Strategy

You just take a look around you and you’ll see plenty of banners, advertisements as well as offers and opportunities offered by various brands. People often wonder why businesses focus so much of their time and finance on brand marketing. However, if you want to take your business to the next level you would need to think of a way to improvise your overall brand strategy.

What makes a brand?
People often recall your business and company by its name, logo or maybe even a tagline! Basically, anything that you could offer customers or potential clients so as to build up your reputation is known as brand marketing. This type of brand strategy lets you stay in the lime light; and, there’s surely a huge benefit of being the first name to pop up when someone is in need of services or products.

How do you improvise on your brand strategy?
The only way to improvise your brand strategy and gain popularity and increased sales is by a successful brand marketing campaign. Most businesses use adverts as a means of conveying their message, others may donate funds to a charitable organization, and in addition to these, there are plenty of other ways to let the people know that you’re the best. However, most businesses fail to realize that the best marketing tool is the word of mouth.

If you offer your customers exactly what they want in terms of quality and services, surely they’d let their friends know about you; and, if your business is really a gem amongst the pebbles, you would soon notice a multitude of people praising your brand to the skies.

Customer loyalty – Another brand strategy to keep in mind
Getting customers to your door and selling them products or services is just one of the major steps towards building a successful business. One of the most important brand marketing strategies that most businesses fail to realize is that of customer loyalty.

No matter what you offer, you surely are going to obtain customers. But, your task isn’t to sell them something. You should rather focus on keeping them satisfied and instill in them a feeling of want, wherein they would return to you whenever they seek similar services again.

If you focus on just a single brand strategy, you may find it really hard to build up the reputation you seek. Therefore, brand marketing should include a complete plan and you should not leave anything to chance. Whenever you notice repeat clients or customers, that’s when you should heave a sigh of relief; as, that’s when you say – ‘my brand strategy works!’ Don’t rest yet, keep improvising and tweaking your strategy in order to reap maximum benefits.

Easy to Implement Small Business Brand Marketing Tips

If you want to know more about brand marketing, you need to glance through magazines, media, websites and other forms of advertising. Companies spend thousands of dollars on advertising their products, but are the advertising campaigns only focusing on getting people to know all about their products? No, the idea is to promote a new product to those who are already familiar with your company.

The moment your prospective clients begin to associate you with your product, you are on your way to effective brand marketing. This is brand marketing with a vengeance. And this is the most successful form of brand marketing. So, the moment the client picks up a product in the market, recognizes your logo, and decides to buy your product because he has already tried it before, well, you can consider your brand marketing/advertisement campaign to be successful.

However, as a small business owner, you do not want to spend a lot of money in advertising. Well, you do not have to worry about that, because brand marketing is mostly done over a given period of time, when people get to know all about you. Get your friends, relatives and colleagues to talk about your brand. That is, of course, after they have tried your product and given you a review about what they like or dislike about it. Remember that the best brand marketing is done through word of mouth.

After that, you are going to go for target brand marketing, when you are going to get people on the Internet to know more about your product. This sort of niche marketing is done after you have recognized the client target to which you want to sell your product. Get them to know all about your product. Brand marketing does not mean huge advertisements in the papers.

You can start your brand marketing campaign through your newsletter, or your blog, on social media, through brochures and even through giveaway presents with every product. The idea is to communicate with all those potential clients out there and get them to know that you are giving them quality products and quality service!

Business Finance Training and Effective Business Solutions

Business finance training refers to programs that teach individuals how to handle various financial duties. Finance training is similar to finance tips in that both help business owners make better monetary decisions, but training programs offer a more detailed explanation of finance strategies. Training programs vary in price and can be used by the owners and employees of a business.

The most basic business finance training provide information on budgeting, preparing financial statements, managing cash flow, strategizing, forecasting, improving performance, and applying basic procedures and concepts to more effectively manage a business. These programs are recommended for new business owners to help them understand standard business practices. Once these basic methods are mastered, more specific financial training may be looked into.

Advanced business finance training delves more deeply into a certain financial procedure or concept, usually at a higher cost than basic programs. Advanced programs may teach business owners how to set up effective business models, make decisions based on quantitative analysis, manage and control accounts, practice due diligence, measure productivity, and strategize concerning mergers and acquisitions.

Taking part in any kind of business finance training gives a business owner the resources to make more intelligent business decisions that result in increased productivity and profits. Many different types of courses are available either online or at a specified location. Some programs may even offer the option to train at the business. Taking into consideration the needs and abilities of a business is the key to finding the best business finance training.

A business finance solution generally refers to methods of funding and maintaining the finances of a business. Most solutions involve ways of obtaining working capital, but others also offer ways of protecting and increasing that capital.

To obtain working capital, business owners look to finance solutions that offer funding by several different means. The most common means are loans and financing. Asset-based loans use a business’s assets, such as inventory and equipment, as collateral. A business may also opt for a property loan in order to acquire commercial space. Invoice financing, such as factoring, involves liquidating or selling a business’s accounts receivables in exchange for quick funding. Some businesses look to trade financing to supply their inventory. The business will tell its financer the amount and cost of goods needed, and the financer will pay for the goods. The business then repays the amount financed over a specified period of time.

Most companies that provide business finance solutions also offer ways to protect and increase a business’s capital. Credit protection safeguards a business from daily risks, such as customers not paying on time, so that the business does not suffer incredible losses. This makes it much easier for the business to borrow money in the future, and it protects the balance sheet. A finance solution may also offer business insurance plans that increase the stability of a business. The most common types of business insurance are employee and public liability, car, property, and health insurance. These business finance solutions are designed to protect businesses against potential losses.

Functions of Business Finance

Strength and soundness of business depends on the availability of finance and competency with which it is used. The abundance of finance can do wonders and its scarcity can ruin even a well established business. Finance increases the strength and viability of business. It increases the resistance capacity of a business to face losses and economic depression. It is just like a lubricant, the more it is applied to the business, the quickly the business will move. Following headings explain the importance of finance to business:

(1) Initiating Business: Finance is the first and fore most requirement of every business. It is the starting point of every business, industrial project etc. Whether you start a sole proprietary concern, a partnership firm, a company or a charity institution, you need ample amount of finance. It is equally important for profit seeking and non-profit activities. It is equally important for a multinational organization and for a free dispensary.

(2) Purchase of Assets: Finance is needed to purchase all sorts of assets. Even if credit is available some down payment is to be made. Mostly finance is needed at the start of business for the purchase of fixed assets. These fixed assets consume a large amount of initial investment of the entrepreneur, so he may face liquidity difficulty in running day to day affairs of the business.

(3) Initial Losses: No business attains high profit on the first day of commencement. Some losses are normal before the business reaches its full capacity and generate enough revenue to match cost. Finance is necessary so that these initial losses can be sustained and business can be allowed to progress gradually.

(4) Professional Services: Certain business need services of specialized personnel. Such personnel have rich experience in specialized fields and they can provide useful guidance to make business profitable. Nevertheless these services are costly. Finance is always needed so that services of such professional consultants can be hired.

(5) Development: Business is always exposed to change. New innovations and emergence of new technologies replaces old techniques out of market. So in order to remain in the market, it is needed to keep the business well equipped with all emerging tools and techniques. This required finance. New technology is always expensive as it is better than others. So finance is needed to purchase new equipment and keep the business running.

(6) Information Technology: Information technology has now changed the geography of the business battle field. The home markets have now extended virtually to other comers of the world. The whole world can be your customer or competitor. To face such a fierce competition, IT is needed. Skills and competency in IT can perform miracles. But finance is again the decisive factor. It is very much needed to incorporate expensive IT products in the business.

(7) Media War: The advertisement and promotion have now become a vital elements for the success of business. The way a businessman approaches a customer and convinces him to purchase his product has become more important than the quality of product. With advertisement on International media, a businessman can reach the minds of millions of people around the globe. However, advertisement is a luxury which every business can’t afford. Huge finance is required to meet advertisement expenses.

(8) Resource Management: Finance is very essential for efficient resource management. Resources here include capital and human resources. Maintenance of plant and equipment and training of employees all need finance. Establishment of new industrial units, expansion of plant capacity, hiring of well learned skilful laborers – all
these factors can lead to huge revenue but at the first place they need finance to start with.

(9) Stock Investments: These investments are those which are made to hold ample stock of raw materials in hand. Bulk purchase of raw materials is profitable in a sense that purchase discount can be attained and there is no danger of production halts. So companies most often hold huge amount of stocks and raw materials. But such an investment can be made only if a company has sufficient capital or finance to carry out its daily operation easily besides holding huge stock.

(10) Combating Risks: Everything is exposed to one or more risks. A business is also exposed to variety of risks. These risks include natural hazards, burden of any huge liability, loss of market or brand name etc. Finance is needed to make business powerful, so that it can sustain occasional losses and liabilities.

The Primary Cause Of Business Financing Frustration

Finding proper business financing is not easy at the best of times for most small and medium sized business owners and managers.

There are a number of reasons that collectively explain why the business financing market can be so difficult to understand and navigate.

But probably the single biggest reason is the lack of useful information about how the business financing market actually works.

Business financing information and education sources predominantly come in two forms: 1) Text books; 2) Major bank advertising.

If you’ve ever read through a educational finance text book or taken a business financing course, you already know how difficult it can be to apply the theories, principles, and strategies to a small or medium sized business.

Our formal education system provides limited information as to how the market place works, how to plan for financing requirements, how to manage periods of growth, decline, transition, start up, etc.

Sure academic books and courses can go through all these areas in great detail, but is the information practical, real world, something you can relate to and apply yourself as a manager or owner of a small or medium sized business?

In most cases, the answer is a resounding NO.

Most finance text books speak to big business financing dynamics that are not easily transferable to small and medium sized business scenarios.

Outside of the formal education system, the next great source of business financing information is the information provided by the major banks, which they tend to make available to you by the boat load through their broad based marketing campaigns.

Unfortunately, the information by itself seldom helps you determine if a particular institution would be able to provide you with financing, or what would be required to qualify for a loan.

The good news is that business financing sources continue to grow in numbers as more and more lenders carve out a particular piece of the market to service.

In order to take advantage of these alternatives, you need to have a solid approach in place when seeking business financing.

Here’s a short list of things to consider

>>> Develop a solid, ongoing, understanding of both your personal and business assets, income, and cash flow.

Regardless of the business financing model, these elements will always come into play to some degree.

Being able to demonstrate a solid understanding of your business financials is also an indication of your ability to manage the underlying business.

>>> Monitor and manage your personal and business credit.

Small and medium sized business financing is focused on both personal and business credit histories.

Regular reviews of both personal and business credit reports from the major credit reporting agencies are important to avoid errors and credit practices that can severely damage your borrowing power.

>>> Develop your marketing position.

Yes, seeking business financing is a marketing exercise.

When applying for business financing, you’re marketing your business to lending sources and they in turn are marketing their business financing programs to you.

Think of the lender as a customer to better understand what they’re looking for. Then, develop a business proposal that addresses all their potential needs and concerns.

>>> Research Lending Sources

There are lots of business financing sources. But there is also lots of variation in the types of business applications each one is prepared to consider.

Broad based lenders rely on credit history and net worth. As you get more specific in terms of financing application and industry, lender programs become more narrow and can be harder to locate.

You need to consider things like industry, sector, and geography when looking for business financing sources.

Financing consultants and business loan brokers can be an excellent source of information to aid you in this process.

>>> Qualify The Lender

Before you make a formal application, find out if the lender has the programs and lending track record to meet your specific needs.

Too often, the lender is doing all the qualifying.

>>> Compare your options

Depending on the scenario, there can be several financing strategies that could work for your business.

Make sure you take the time to compare before making a decision. The extra time spent could save you considerable time and money in the long run.

>>> Start Today

Regardless of what your business financing needs are right now, you should regularly invest time staying on top of your business financials, monitoring your credit, and researching financing sources that fit your industry and potential future requirements.

When the time comes to acquire capital, your proactive efforts can make all the difference in getting the capital you need with terms and timing that are acceptable to your business.