I had this brilliant idea last summer to start this kid's clothing boutique business. It was a spin-off of an oh-so-popular adult MLS company. One that a lot of my friends had success in, a few had even started out as ground-floor consultants. They were killing it... I mean at least they seemed to be.
The politics of this new brand I was buying into was similar to their adult counterpart but they promised to be SOOOO much better. Upon signing up for the brand, we were told we would have inventory in a month, then a month became two, and two became three. During this time, we were encouraged to start our Facebook groups, Instagram accounts, etc.
So, here I am. I had a new brand, over 700 ACTIVE followers , and almost no inventory... and what I did have was old or retired prints, stuff no one REALLY wanted but it had to go or my husband was going to KILL me! No way was I going to go down without a fight. I was not about to surrender and give him the opportunity to say "I told you so". I hated to admit that I had made a pretty big (& costly) mistake by joining this company I HAD to find a way to keep my audience engaged and set myself apart from the masses, my follow counterparts, the other ravenous women trying to peddle at the SAME things I am at the SAME price! While I ultimately did end up leaving due to poor leadership, I was able to successfully sell off the majority of my inventory and build one of the biggest teams in the company.
So the majority of my spring and summer, I had to spend an ungodly amount of time studying my niche market, trying to create an entire brand strategy and awareness to a brand that had other than confusing potential customers with it's adult counterpart, the one it was a spin off of to begin with.
One of my favorite parts about business is the experiences and lessons we take away, so I went ahead and put together a little guide and steps that I used in my own branding experiences. How I was able to increase brand awareness and stand out on social media when I was in a sea of noise. How I was able to allow my audience to hear the lyrics and not just the acoustics.
Let’s start with the basics. Before we discuss branding strategies, it’s a good idea to take a few moments to brainstorm what makes your brand unique.
Does your business have a mission?
What problem does your brand solve?
Who is your ideal customer?
What message does your brand currently resonate?
What practice standards do you want customers to associate with your brand?
Ideally, you’ll want to be able to answer these questions without too much effort.
After you answer the questions you’re ready to start market research. One of the best ways to conduct market research is by sending an email survey to your current customers using a tool such as Survey Monkey.
Now that you have an idea of what your brand represents and who your ideal customer is it’s time to stand out amongst your competition.
The following 6 strategies are a great guide to helping you stand out and get noticed in a sea of competition.
1. Differentiate Your Brand
What makes your brand unique? Leverage your story or unique goal that only your product can solve. People connect with people. Nike is famed for sharing their customer's stories with their "Just Do It" campaign.
Keep your message, logo, color scheme, social media presence, etc consistent. You want your customers (and potential customers) to quickly recognize you and your brand. People trust things they know. The stronger the connect- the stronger the memory-therefore the more likely they are to buy from you in the future. Coca~Cola and Apple are 2 big brands that we can should be taking a page from their playbook on.
3. Provide a Quality Product
If you’re consistently able to deliver on the quality of a product, you’ll have a lifelong customer. Apple is a great example of a brand that provides a quality product and continues to innovate for an ever changing market.
4. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Negative experiences spread to twice as many people as a positive one. Proactively provide a positive experience rather than a reactive experience. If you experience a dissatisfied customer (and we all have) validate their feelings and professionally work towards a remedy. As difficult as it may be, separate your emotions from the situation. Over 50% of those who complain will do business with you again if their issue is resolved. If you haven't already, take some time to read Tony Hsieh's story about starting Zappos and their customer service. His book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose is a must-read for any business owner. You can also check out other brands such as Carlton-Ritz and JetBlue for their customer service policies and how they will go above and beyond to provide the best customer experience possible. Word of Mouth marketing is still the best marketing there is.
5. Listen & Interact
Read your customer’s messages, posts, etc and RESPOND. This seems so crazy to have to include but the reality is, companies will post and never reply and they do, they will only reply to a few. Take a few moments of your time (or hire a VA to help you) and respond to those taking the time to interact with you. This also helps your algorithm! Look to Starbucks as an example of a large brand that takes the time to reply to their large fan base.
6. Post Great Photos
Great, consistent product photography can really set you apart from the rest. Take a few moments and set up your area. Invest in a great camera or new phone. If you're using your phone, REMOVE YOUR PHONE CASE! A great photo that captures your brand’s identity is worth a 1000 words. Need some inspiration, check out Califia Farms on Instagram (clicked here).
Now that you have a good foundation for how to stand out in a sea of competition, it’s time to start implementing what you’ve learned.
Did this post resonate with you? What's one take away you have? Leave us a comment below and let us know.