It’s easy for small businesses to forget all about their brand image. In fact, many companies launch without thinking of themselves as a brand at all! While big corporations have entire marketing departments devoted to logos, taglines, websites, and other aspects of branding, most SMBs are busy focusing on their products and services. There are only so many hours in the day!
Unfortunately, we’ve all seen how easy it is for local, family-owned operations to be completely obliterated by big business. Whether you’re competing with the big box department store down the road or the online giant that allows shoppers to have what they need sent right to their doors, staying relevant becomes harder and harder each year. Your great customer service and quality products may be enough to retain existing clients, but real growth requires evolution.
Think about the brands you know. National super stores like Walmart and Target. Fast food giants like Burger King and KFC. Gas stations. Grocery manufacturers. Online retailers. All of these big brands have one thing in common: they are always evolving. They’re changing up their logo, adding new elements to their websites, and producing content that gets noticed. It’s a constant battle to grab a consumer’s fleeting attention, and innovation is the way to win the war.
Local businesses are something special. They can offer personal relationships with their customers, hands-on help, and an invaluable sense of community – all things that large corporations struggle to deliver. But SMBs have a lot to learn about evolutionary branding and innovation from big business. Evolving to meet your customer’s needs – and exceed their expectations – will not only retain the customers you have, but it will help grow your business.
At ImageWorks, we encourage our small business clients to think like big businesses when it comes to the following topics.
Your website: When was the last time your website got a new look? Today’s customers live their lives online, so its important to make sure that your site gets updated regularly. Most customers will visit your website before they visit your location, so show them something from 2014, not 2004.
Your logo: While you don’t want to make a huge departure from what your customers are used to seeing, a modern look is a way to reassure them that your business is on top of the latest trends. A well-designed logo can even encourage others to take another look at what you have to offer.
Your marketing: Marketing is a big bucket that encompasses a lot of options. You can’t possibly do them all – and you shouldn’t! What you should do is think about who your target customers are and where you need to go to reach them.
- Google: No matter what kind of business you own, your customers are probably online. Today’s consumers are used to pulling out their smartphones and searching for local businesses, and it’s important to make sure that your company turns up when they do. Local search optimization and online advertising can make sure that you get found before your competitors do.
- Social: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest. Chances are, your audience is engaged on at least one of those social platforms. Think about where they are, and make sure that your company is prepared to reach them there.
- Email: We all complain about the number of emails we receive every day, but email marketing still maintains one of the highest ROIs in advertising. If you can provide useful information, good deals, and other tangible benefits to your email subscribers, they will look forward to seeing your messages pop up!
- Targeted Advertising: Direct mail to your neighborhood, ads in local magazines, door hangers, pizza box flyers, and ads on specific websites can all reach customers where they live, work, and play.
SMBs today have great success outsourcing their branding to specialized, local firms like ours. You can’t send your creative work overseas and expect it to come back looking good, but you can hire an entire local marketing team for a reasonable monthly fee. This is by far the best way for small businesses to have all the marketing resources of a big corporation (graphic designers, web developers, project managers, marketing strategists, and brand specialists) – without paying five or more individual salaries every year!