How often do you hear, “Your brand is your business.” or “Your brand is everything.” But, what does that really mean to a business owner or a nonprofit?
A smart marketing consultant I know, Ann Gusiff, says, “People buy from businesses that they know, like and trust. Potential customers first need to understand what you have to offer. They have to feel good enough about you to want to buy from you. Then they have to believe that your product will be helpful to them. So, how do you get people to know, like and trust your business?
Think about how you last went about making a purchasing decision. You might have done some research on the Internet. You might have talked with a few people for some recommendations. Then it came down to the impression you had. How did their website or business card look? How did they make you feel? Did you clearly understand what they had to offer? Did you get a sense that you could trust them?
Your good impression probably started with their business logo and the colors and the fonts that they chose. If they were a flower shop, for instance, their logo might have been done with bright colors – something that made you think of springtime. And how about that plumber you needed last week, or that attorney that helped you settle your aunt’s estate? Their logo and marketing materials looked very professional and sincere. They sent the message, “I care about your situation, and I know how to solve your problem.”
Building trust with customers also has a lot to do with consistency. Back to that flower shop. All of their marketing materials: their website, business cards and in-store signs say, “Flowers make people happy. You will smile when you business with us!” Everything has that common, predictable theme.
Another component of building trust is showing customers how you can help them. Not just now, but in the future. That flower shop might publish an e-newsletter with coupons that you’ll save for your next purchase. They might include an article right before Mothers’ Day offering advice on how you can help celebrate with a nice, floral gift. They’ll probably make it incredibly easy for you to get the flowers to her, even though she lives a thousand miles away.
So, what does all this mean for your business? You don’t always get the opportunity to meet face-to-face with every customer, so your brand and marketing materials have to speak for you. Do they truly reflect who you are? Do they send a consistent message? Do they help potential customers know, like and trust you?
If they do, your brand is well on its way to being a roaring success.
Have you mapped out what you want to accomplish with your marketing strategy in 2012? Do you know how much money you have to work with and the most beneficial ways to use it? Do you know what you’d like to do but are unsure of how much it might cost? Preparing your marketing calendar can give you a clearer picture of the road ahead.
Every project you undertake to market your business should have clear goals and objectives. You should know who your audience is, how the project will help you reach your target market and your expected return on investment. You can use your marketing calendar to outline all of the projects you want to undertake, identify the best timeframes to do them, and get an overview to help you prioritize.
Having a marketing calendar is essential to helping you plan ahead and can save you significant amounts of money over the year. It lets you slot in upcoming major marketing events, conferences, trade shows and networking opportunities and provides time-based visibility to when you need to prepare your promotional materials.
Many business people don’t realize how costly last minute rush jobs for promotional materials can be. It’s hard to do vendor price comparisons when you’re in a hurry. Also, whenever a production company or printer is asked to hurry to complete a project in time for an event, a “rush fee” can be tacked on. Priority shipping is also expensive. Completing a project “last minute” can often add as much as 20% or more to your overall costs.
An additional benefit of planning ahead is that your graphic designer and other professional team members can help you find less costly solutions to achieve the same results. For example, by suggesting that we make a poster just 1” shorter, I recently saved a client over $300 because we were able to use a smaller sized printing press. If we’d rushed to get the poster completed, we might not have had the time to consider alternative options. Planning ahead allows the luxury of reviewing each project with an eye towards determining the most appropriate and cost-effective way of producing your materials.
How do you begin? We’re offering one hour of free consulting time to plan your graphic design and printing needs for the coming year. We’ll help you develop a high level cost estimate based on your needs to assist you in planning your graphic design and printing budget. There is no obligation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started today!