CONSIDER brand perception as part of your MARKETING PLANNING (OR plan)
Last week, we talked about why having a brand matters. As promised, this week I want to expand on brand perception. This term refers to how others see you or your company and interact with you and the brand out in the real world.
Quick notes on brand building-
When you build your brand, you have initial control of it as the creator or builder.
When it’s built and launched, you lose some control over your brand because people who interact with it have a set of judgments, opinions and feelings you have no control over.
These thoughts and feelings can determine whether or not they will buy from you, as well as how they communicate your brand to their network and friends.
In short, you have to live your brand and deliver on your brand promise time and again, so that your prospects and customers don’t lose faith in you, do continue to buy from you and do continue to refer you to their friends.
Breathe, dear business owner, breathe…
In short, you have no control over how your brand is perceived.
This is one reason why collecting stellar reviews is important, so that your audiences can connect with others who have experienced your brand first-hand. Moreoever, so you can get critical feedback on what’s working and what is not.
The only real control you have over your brand is by living and working like you are the brand- because, dear business owner, you are.
A troubling discovery and case study
This weekend, while I was out walking my dog, I kept seeing these little plastic sleeves stuffed with paper that looked like trash, lying at the foot of driveways around the neighborhood.
Being a good citizen, I picked one of these sleeves up to dispose of it and discovered inside a folded-up flyer, with a few large pebbles tucked into it to keep it weighted down. It was a residential cleaning company’s idea of advertising their services to our neighborhood.
Forget mailing out a flyer! They just drove around (I assume) and tossed these packets out into yards and driveways.
Once I realized what I was holding, I felt duped. Yes, it may have gotten me to pick it up and open it, but it got me thinking.
Does this marketing tactic motivate you to buy?
For one, what does this say about the company? To me, this tactic said 3 things:
- “We are so desperate for business, we’re blanketing the neighborhood in trash to get more attention.”
- It also felt like they were trying to deceive me and my neighbors.
- Lastly, a residential cleaning company that litters their advertising around a neighborhood? That seems like an oxymoron. They’re supposed to be cleaning up, not dumping trash.
This is my reaction. Perhaps your reaction would’ve been different. All I know is this: I won’t be hiring them. Their tactic turned me off.
Without intending to, they communicated certain things to me about the way they do business that I, as a consumer, don’t want to interact with.
They may be the best, most reasonably priced residential cleaning company in all the land. They may have higher standards for cleaning than others in their industry. I still don’t see myself buying from them.
As a marketer though, I found myself having compassion for them- perhaps they have a $0 marketing budget, and didn’t know what else to do. Many small businesses are struggling to know what the best and effective almost-free marketing tactics are. I get it. I see it all the time.
I took it to the streets for more feedback
I screened a couple of neighbors on this issue.
- Both had negative reactions to the campaign.
- Neither felt compelled to contact them for cleaning services.
- Each of us experienced poor brand interaction with this company and had perceived this company’s values as misaligned with our own.
So…How is your brand landing?
If you’re a small business owner, how do you gather feedback on what you’re putting out there? Earlier in this article, I referenced review gathering- an excellent way to find out what’s landing about your company with your customers. Always remember your reputation is critical.
Don’t live or work in a bubble
Another way to determine if your brand is showing you, your company, and your products and services off to your advantage is to ask, listen and be thankful for the feedback:
- Ask trusted colleagues what they think you do- see what kind of language they use to describe what you offer. Listen for your key messages- are they in their response? How do they talk about you?
- If you understand how your trusted colleagues might talk about you or your business to others, you might begin to understand how others in the general public might see what you do or offer. This could lead to you tweaking your brand, improving it, or tightening up some of the language you prefer using when speaking about it.
- On Social Media, audit the comments and shares your followers are making/doing. Make sure you are communicating your brand to them on a consistent basis. Tweak your brand language to create understanding and generate buzz about your company.
What are some of the biggest branding gaffs you’ve seen? Feel free to email me your stories or leave a comment on my Facebook page. There is so much to learn from. Interested in some marketing support? Contact me to learn more about how a marketing coach can help.