We’ve all been there. Needing a new vehicle, but dreading going to the car lots because there’s always that one salesperson that just won’t let up or take no for an answer.
The last time I went car shopping, I actually had one guy pull up three cars that didn’t even come close to meeting the criteria I clearly shared with him a few minutes before. I told him those were not what I asked for. He went scrambling for a few more vehicles only to bring up more unwanted options. I walked out of there and will never go back to that dealership.
When I did buy the perfect vehicle, it was because of the reputation of the dealership, the quality of the vehicles, the knowledge and non-pressure of the salesperson, and the overall ease of the experience.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of businesses out there that tend to ignore our needs, peddling their goods and services, marketing day and night, and just putting on the air of desperation.
What’s the real difference here? Push versus pull marketing...
What is push marketing?
Push marketing is like those desperate used car salespeople. They need sales to make their quota, so they cold call people, stalk them in the car lot, and are forever handing out business cards.
This takes a lot of effort and by the of the month, they might have closed a few car deals, but they have lost a lot of valuable time that could have gone into investing in their reputation as a salesperson and the credibility of the dealership.
What is pull marketing?
Pull marketing is like the laid back luxury car salespeople. They need sales to make a commission and a living, but they know that the brand of the dealership and the type of vehicles they offer precede everything else.
These salespeople spend a lot of time building a rapport with their potential clients, adopting a no pressure attitude, offering sales materials that provide benefits and features, and doling out the white glove service no matter if they get the sale or not.
The difference between marketing and branding
Simply put, marketing is actively promoting a product or service. It’s what the online marketing world calls a “push tactic”. It’s pushing a message out via any avenue of promotion like a magazine ad, radio spot, commercial, or social media post where the main goal is to get a sale as a result.
Branding is not a push tactic, but rather a pull tactic. Branding is the expression of the value of a business, product or service. Having a brand will help encourage someone to buy a service or product, not by pushing but instead by attracting those that need it, simply by answering the following questions:
What is it? Why is it offered? Who does it help? And why would I want to purchase it?
Branding is what sticks in your mind about a service or product, no matter if you buy it or not. It is what determines if someone will become a loyal customer. The marketing may convince someone to buy a Chevy, but it is the brand that will determine if they will only own Chevy’s from there on out.
In other words, marketing can bring in sales, but it’s the branding that brings in the loyalty.
Why pull marketing through branding works
With the pull strategy, you focus your marketing efforts inward by spending time building your skills, value and brand credibility rather than searching for your next sale. This takes time, but with discipline and remaining highly focused on what you do best, you can actually build a reputation that attracts clients to you in a relatively easy way.
There are no guarantees with any type of marketing or branding, but with a little time investment and focusing in on what makes your brand valuable, the return from building a business with the pull strategy is much stronger and lasts longer.
So which type of marketing are you spending your time and energy on?
Using pull marketing versus push tactics is the difference between always searching and waiting for your next client and knowing you will have a steady stream of loyal clients and referrals.
If you want to attract ideal clients and avoid the endless cycle of feast or famine, networking and throwing money away on Facebook ads, you need to develop your brand and a strong pull marketing strategy. That means investing time in honing your skills, narrowing your focus by developing a niche service, and demonstrating your knowledge by sharing valuable content.
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Your business brand is responsible for cultivating first impressions, building recognition, growing your reputation and authority, and securing the trust and loyalty of your clients.
Without a strong brand foundation, it can become difficult for your business to stand out from the competition and lead to rough travels on the road to entrepreneurship.
When starting out, your resources may be limited and unfortunately, most small businesses end up missing some of the most important steps or altogether skipping the brand process, which is, in my book, a mistake.
Let’s talk about some of the hazards of not having a brand…
Having a shaky or non-existent brand
Most entrepreneurs think they can either skip branding all together or go somewhere cheap online and get a logo and set up a quick website and they are ready to roll.
What do you think when you are handed a self-printed or templated business card? What happens when you visit a website that looks outdated or DIY?
You risk your potential customers judging your ability to provide a solution to their problem and others defining your brand for you. So, you can either let your brand be developed through online customer reviews or you can take the wheel and drive your business brand yourself.
When you don’t start off with a brand, it makes it hard to be consistent with your business and online marketing. You won’t have a foundation to refer to and therefore you’ll appear haphazard or even unprofessional.
One of the most important factors for business success is consistency across every marketing channel: your print materials, your website, your email and social media marketing, your social media image and posts, and your blog articles.
By being consistent, your customers can become more familiar with your brand and therefore you can slowly establish recognition and trust.
Having a copycat brand
When developing a new business, it might be tempting to look at other companies for inspiration, including competitors and entrepreneurs you admire. But in doing so, you take a chance of looking and sounding just like them.
Differentiation is the key to a profitability and sustainability. When potential customers see brands as interchangeable, they make purchase decisions based primarily on price. That means lower profit margins for you and a more difficult time charging what your services are actually worth.
By determining what makes you different, you are able to stand out from your competition and charge premium prices.
Forgetting the message
It’s easy to think branding is all about the visual elements such as the business name, logo, tagline, and color palette. When it comes to your website, you might have the look down, but a lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of either sounding like their competition, being all over the place with their message, or worst yet, they provide too much information.
However, without a strong, clear and concise brand message, you run the risk of your potential customers not being able to determine why they should choose you over your competition.
Not identifying a target audience
Many entrepreneurs start out thinking it’s better to cater to everyone. What a better way to get more business, right? Wrong! When you try to communicate to everyone, you end up with a message that resonates to no one.
Determining a target market helps you hone your message and tailor it to those you really want to work with. The goal is to make it easy for your potential clients to determine if you are the right fit. This saves you both a lot of time and trouble.
Not narrowing focus
Chances are, if you’re really good at something, you’re also probably pretty good at other things too. Most people know a lot of stuff and think it is a good idea to sprinkle all sorts of services into their offerings. I’m sure you’ve seen them. The ones that have a website full of a multitude of services.
So, what happens when you visit a website like that? I can’t speak for everyone, but personally I get lost rather quickly in the sea of credentials and services. After I start to glaze over, I typically leave the site and go back to search for another specialist that’s got a clear service page and an easy way to work with them.
When you specialize, it helps you stand out and be remembered. Not only does that help you to be seen as an expert in your field, it also assists with word of mouth referrals. The more you specialize and are seen as the go-to expert in your market, the easier it is to charge premium prices for your services.
Still concerned that narrowing your focus is going to hurt your chances? Maybe this will help...
Your potential clients are busy and self-involved, and they’re not looking to spend lots of time figuring out what specific aspect of you is relatable and interesting to them. If they don’t believe that you can help them or they can’t figure out why to hire you over the competition, they won’t hire you. Plain and simple.
In conclusion, a successful business launch requires more than just a minimum effort. Just like coming up with your business idea, name, and services; investing in your brand foundation takes a good amount of time, thought, and preparation. It might cost money you don’t have readily available or think you should spend on something else, but in the long run, you’ll have much smoother travels if you begin with your brand foundation.
VAROOM! Brand Design offers brand foundation assistance with their brand design packages. Find the right REV UP package to fit your needs here.
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Car naming is an automotive topic that has always intrigued me. I had an aunt that always named her cars. Because of that influence, when I got my own, I did the same and still do to this day every time I get a new ride. BTW my car is a silver coupe called Luna (yes, I’m a Harry Potter fan from way back!).
Like naming your car, it’s popular to come up with a business name when you are starting out on the road to entrepreneurship. But nowadays there’s a new debate on whether you should use a personal name for your business or create a business name.
When deciding between the two, there’s bound to be a little anxiety. What should you do for YOUR business?
Don’t worry, I am going to break it down for you so you can decide...
The Pros & Cons of Creating a Business Name
The Pros & Cons of Using Your Name
A personal story, and no it’s not about my black coupe I named Elvira...
When I started in the graphics business some 20 plus years ago, it was all the rage to create cool and rememberable business names. So when it came time for me to go out on my own, I decided to go down that road myself.
Looking back, I still like what I’ve created. The logo is fun and says so much about myself and my services, but I think I would have gone the simpler route had I known how hard it is to stand out online these days.
I’m not saying I don’t get discovered with my unique business name and the way I present and position myself online, but now that I know the importance of a personal brand, I have to do double duty.
I have my business branded website and social media accounts AND I have my personally branded website and social media accounts. And I share and post on all of these platforms.
Think about when you give out a referral. Are you more likely to remember a business name or a personal name?
Hands down, a personal name attached to a service business goes so much farther these days.
Not only that, but if someone is referred to you, they are likely to go online and check you out. And if they do, what are they going to see?
Is it going to be your name in the default search body copy linked to your company website or will it be a picture of your latest dinner on your personal Facebook page? Or worse yet, someone else with your name?
All of these scenarios are not ideal if you want to be seen as the face of your business and get the reputation that you know your stuff and are the perfect match for that referral.
So, which way should you go?
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong approach. Some people love having their businesses named after themselves and experience wild success in doing so, while others reap the benefits of using a business moniker.
Amanda Johnson Young is a brand designer with over 20 years experience. READ MORE
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