According to the U.S. Small Business Administration,
“About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more.”
Doesn’t sound very appealing to own your own business after reading that, does it?
1. Capitalize on a USP.
A unique selling proposition (USP) is something that makes your brand stand out among competition. Whether it’s a specific product or service, price point, style, production method, or something else, capitalizing on a unique quality is a great idea.
Unfortunately, because today’s market is overrun with competition, it can be extremely difficult for a single brand name to stand out without an enticing USP.
If you’re having trouble identifying your brand’s USP, try making a list of all the brand’s features and the benefit each one brings to consumers. From your list, pick the strongest feature/benefit combination and commit to it. Work on monopolizing it in consumers’ minds (even if you can’t in the marketplace).
Remember, the more unique your selling point is, the more likely consumers are to automatically think of your brand when shopping around.
2. Create a strong brand image.
Brand image is everything. If a brand appears weak or negative, consumers aren’t going to want to get involved with it.
It’s important to note that before you can create a strong brand image, you need to have a clearly defined target audience and brand goals. These two things are fundamental steps in building your brand, and you can’t have a strong brand image without a strong brand. Once you’ve identified those two things, you can effectively work on creating a positive, lasting brand image.
One of the best ways to create a positive brand image is through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR takes place when a business gets involved with social issues, initiatives, or practices. Some popular ways for brands to get involved with CSR are through environmentally-friendly production techniques, youth programs, animal rights, or partnerships with local or national non-profit organizations. Toms is a great example of a brand that has built its image around CSR.
Another great way to build a strong brand image is by including emotional triggers in your advertising. For example, over the years, Nike has created a brand image that keeps consumers feeling motivated and energized by appealing to their desire to be fit like the men and women in their ads.
3. Stay up-to-date with consumer trends.
Today’s consumers are obsessed with the latest and greatest advancements in every field. Keep current through popular social media sites and use the web to your advantage. Interact with your consumers through these sites and really listen to their feedback. Find out what they’re currently doing, thinking, saying, and purchasing. Then, incorporate those things into your brand’s image where you can.
However, realize that all trends come to an end, so be willing to consistently interact with consumers and adapt to fit into their lives.
4. Ask for advice.
Another great resource for your brand is other business professionals. There’s a good chance that a majority of the businessmen and women you know have been in similar situations as you and are willing to share their stories.
If you don’t have very many personal connections in the business world, try joining a local networking group (either online or in-person). A networking group allows you to converse with people who have a significant interest in seeing both your business and their own grow. Use each other as tools to feed professional growth.
By talking to others in the industry, you can avoid making their mistakes and learn from their successes – all the while building stronger connections for your business. This is something that takes hardly any time and can be done anywhere – during a quick face-to-face meeting or lunch date, via email or social media, over the phone, etc. If it’s that easy, why not ask for advice?
5. Spend some money.
The saying is true… in this economy, you really do have to spend money to make money. Investing in your brand can feel like a negative thing at the beginning because it usually doesn’t pay off right away. Invest anyway!
Without a decent amount of time and money, your brand can’t reach its full potential. Here are some things you can do that may cost extra here and there, but will help grow your brand: look into local trade show venues, hire a marketing or PR person, buy and build a website (or shell out a few extra bucks to have BoydTech Design do it for you), improve packaging presentation, and so on.
Just the same, it’s extremely important to know when to stop spending. If you go overboard, you may find it hard to break even, let alone create any revenue.
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—Amanda Myers, Marketing Intern at BoydTech Design, Inc.