Branding: Communicating Value in Turbulent Times

Branding is the Second Key to Sustainable Business Growth

In our Fall 2019 issue, business advisor Phil Symchych started a discussion on the ‘Six Keys to Sustainable Business Growth,’ which has inspired a series. In his second article of the series, he takes a look at branding and what it means for your business.

Your brand is not what you do. Your brand is more about why you do what you do, how you do it, and the overall experience a customer feels when working with you.

Let’s analyze this. How do your best customers, suppliers, and employees describe your company? They hopefully use words like high quality, trustworthy, and responsive. That’s your company brand.

In turbulent times, it is especially important for your brand to cut through the emotional fog and distress that your customers and prospects might be experiencing.

Here is one way to think about and analyze your brand: Your technical competence combined with a professional and proactive approach will create trust with your customers.

The Branding Process

The four most common branding mistakes I’ve seen and helped companies overcome are:

Talking about methodology: “We repair equipment…” or “We build things…”

Competing on price: “Lowest price…”

Being entirely reactive in the sales process: “May I take your order?”

Giving the customer control: “How can I help you?”

The Four Branding Mistakes

How To Overcome Your Branding Mistakes

Talking About Methodology

The solution is to avoid talking about what you do. It’s better to discuss how you help your customers improve their situations. It’s most effective if your customers speak for you. Ask your best customers to talk about you in video and print testimonials and case studies.

Customers need to know how you can help them, especially now in turbulent times. They don’t know all the ways you can help. It’s your job to be proactive and inform them of your value, align with their goals, and show them how you can help them be more successful.

Competing on Price

Buyers have several criteria for making purchasing decisions. Even those tough people in procurement are sometimes evaluated on overall cost effectiveness such as lowest total cost of ownership, instead of just price. We all know “You get what you pay for.” Use this psychological fact in your pricing.

Back up your value—and the customer’s Return on Investment—by adding important components to your products and services that don’t cost much time or money but increase your customer’s satisfaction. For example, my lawyer responded to my email question within an hour last week. I value that high level of responsiveness.

Reactive Selling

What percentage of your revenue do you generate from proactive selling vs. reactive order-taking? You might be surprised at how low reactive selling is in your business. You can easily increase sales—and any other important metric—by being more proactive. Don’t wait for your customer to call you about a quote you sent six months ago. Call them, follow up on all quotes, including the ones where the customer said “No.”

Proactive selling, combined with empathy and listening, is especially powerful during times of crisis.

Customer Control

An airline captain will only give control over to the co-pilot along with a specific verbal command, “You now have control.” Yet, many businesses have given total control to their customers without any thought or plan. They jump however high the customer wants on any issue: price, timing, quantity, and my least favorite, payment terms. Always keep control of all the factors in your business.

In a crisis, customers feel like they don’t have any control. Give them some control by helping them understand their priorities, and then by showing the customer different ways you can help them achieve their priorities. This gives the customer control and choices in how to work with you.

The keys to creating a memorable brand are:

  • Observe and measure the effectiveness of your customer’s experience when dealing with you, from start to finish and to follow up.
  • Interview your customers or ask a third party to interview them. You will learn valuable information.
  • From this, identify what your customers want and value, and assess yourself how you rate on these factors.
  • Keep improving on these important brand factors.

Branding will help your customers to connect intellectually and emotionally to the “why” of your business and to understand how you can help them.