5 Tips for Spending Wisely on Your Brand

Branding doesn't have to be complicated. Today we make it simple.

James Carter / April 26, 2016

Brand building is expensive, but it doesn't have to be. You might have recently raised a round of funding. Or maybe management has just signed off on this quarter's marketing budget. You might even have a personal brand, and you've scraped together a few dollars that you want to put to work. So let's chat about using your budget wisely.

Tip 1: Get the people right

No matter what business you’re in, people are at the center of it. You can't be great at everything. So spending money to hire the right talent to compliment your strengths is important. It's the difference between your business surviving or shuttering. Beef up your staffing efforts whether that means hiring freelancers or part-time help.

You know the expression "Always be hiring?" Well, it applies here. Make the most out of your budget by bringing in the best personnel to fill the holes in your team.

Tip 2: Improve your customer service and experience

In the digital age, strengths that once made businesses unique aren't as dynamic today. Manufacturing costs, shipping costs, the speed of technology, they’re all at scale and aren't guaranteed to sway potential customers one way or the other. The experience you provide your customers is the main differentiator now. Too many of us leave that up to chance.

Use your money to scale the un-scaleable: people, more specifically your customers. They are your greatest PR team. A great experience for them leads to free word-of-mouth marketing for you which helps bring in new customers. Use your budget to create memorable moments your audience can share.

It’s unlikely that a customer will get excited if their dress arrives on time. But they will blast your company on social media if the dress is late or has flaws. Develop ways to go the extra mile for your customers by doing things that will get them talking.

If you run a restaurant, do a Twitter search for people in your area discussing dinner plans and send them a free meal. Or invite your most loyal customers in for an appreciation dinner as a way to say thanks. These things aren’t that expensive but create a lasting impression on your customers.

Tip 3: Invest in a brand audit

You should regularly analyze your brand to understand the sentiment of your audience. Their opinion is all that matters. One way to know what's on their minds is through an audit. Reach out to ten customers and ask them what it is that you do. If everyone comes back with a different answer, you have might a branding problem. Specifically, your messaging is not clear.

Review all the places people can come into contact with your business. Make sure that each one looks and feels consistent. Make sure that each touchpoint from the cashiers to customer service is on-brand and on-message.

Tip 4: Conduct some field work

Study people out in the real world and try to understand why they use your product. Have you ever created something with the best intentions of it working one way, only find out your customers see things completely different?

Your team just can’t seem to grasp why customers aren’t using it the way you’ve intended. This is the perfect time to step out of the building and get into the field. Ethnography lets you to watch customers react to something you’ve created.

Ethnography is ideal for user studies because sometimes surveys can leave room for uncertainty. As humans, we're the worst when it comes to remembering things accurately. Ask someone to give you a walkthrough of their day; they're guaranteed to leave out a few details. But with ethnography, you get the chance to understand the nuances of why people do what they do and live how they live.

Focus groups present their own set of challenges as well. First, participants in an unfamiliar setting are separated from where they usually make decisions about your business and asked questions. Secondly, there's usually one person who rises out of the group as the alpha. Their choices can rub off on the rest of the participants, thus tainting the results of your research. Watching customers shop under the right settings gives you a better understanding of why they do what they do.

Tip 5: Ramp up your content strategy

If you’re reading this, you’re living well past the year 2010. Happy to see you. It also means that social media has completely changed the way we think about business. You are a media company plus whatever it is you do as a business. Meaning, you need to create media in and around the thing that you do.

Here's Gary Vaynerchuk of Vaynermedia to explain this idea further.

At Honor Roll, we create content to educate readers. It serves as a gateway for potential clients to learn about us before they inquire about our services.

Your customers feel the same way. The purchasing process is long and complicated. Customers don't hear about you and then buy your products. It's not that simple. They need to be reminded of who you are several times before they can even consider you a viable option. Content allows you to stay fresh in their minds without screaming “Buy my stuff!”

You don't need tons of money to brand smart. Branding is a day-in-day-out process. Businesses that stay the course and innovate will win. Bring these ideas to your next marketing meeting and put a plan together. A few dollars in the right places and a ton consistency can do wonders in the long run.

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CREDIT: Vaynerchuk, Gary. "Every Single One of You Is a Media Company." YouTube. Gary Vaynerchuk, 23 Oct. 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
IMAGE BY: Didier Weemaels