Is Branding a myth for SME’s??

There have been many articles written about branding and most Business Owners, regardless of size of business, believe that branding is the key!! In Integrated Marketing Communication by Pickton and Broderick they define branding as:
“the values generated in the minds of people as a consequence of the sum total of marketing communications effort”;
“Brand is a set of attributes that have a meaning, an image and produce associations with the produce when a person is considering that brand of product”;
“Brands represent a long-term strategy around which economic value for both customer and the brand owner can be built”;
“Branding is mainly termed as corporate branding – where the organisation and all of its products are branded under the same corporate name i.e Heinz”

As a SME, do you have the size of marketing fund that Heinz, McDonalds or Morrison’s has?? The answer has to be No, otherwise you wouldn’t be a SME!! This is where the money that we have for marketing is being misused in that we put our hard-earned pennies into what we believe is going to generate a number of leads. Branding is a long-term strategy – most of the time, the brand is You. If you work on your own, it is your attributes and your values that your clients are buying from. So, if this is the case, what exactly is your plan to release yourself from the business in the future? This is the challenge that all Business Owners face and in some cases end up believing that they are the only ones in the business who can do the business. This in turn, means the freedom that you thought you had when you started the business has now become a millstone around your neck.
So with that cheery thought, what can you do that will change this millstone and allow you to have the freedom that you deserve? Ladder of Loyalty.

Ladder of Loyalty is not about branding – it is always about helping people to move up each rung.
Raving Fan – someone who is so taken with your product that they almost sell for you
Advocate – someone who likes your product, feels valued and will pass referrals to you
Client – someone who has bought from you before and will come back a second time if encouraged
Customer – someone who has bought once
Prospect - someone who has never bought from you

In the sense of the levels above, branding will not help people to move up through the levels. The only way to encourage people is to sell. Remember sales is “professionally helping people to buy” and advertsing is “salesmanship in print”.
More often than not, Business Owners will default to “branding” because they are no good at selling – and they need to spend money to justify why sales is not increasing. Branding is not powerful for SME’s, it is the playground of the large corporates. In my next blog, I will go through some ways in which you can learn how to sell better.

Kevin Maddox is an award winning Business Coach, with a background in Sales and Marketing.

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