How to Build Your Brand
The Executive’s Guide to Carpet Cleaning Part III: Branding
Branding, Part II: Building Your Brand
I like to break marketing down into two distinct categories: prospecting and client retention. While the purpose of prospecting is to find new clients, and the purpose of client retention is to keep your current clients, you can accomplish both of these goals by building brand awareness.
Direct mail marketing campaigns like ServiceMonster’s FillMySchedule program do an excellent job of building your brand with existing clients, but we have yet to find a “silver bullet” for prospecting. The reality is, there is no one prospecting campaign that is guaranteed to make the phone ring. In fact, it’s rare to get a 100% return on investment on most marketing campaigns, especially over an extended period of time.
No one buys services they don’t need. If a prospect doesn’t feel like they have a problem, they’re not going to call, no matter how much material you put in front of them.
Customers only seek you out when THEY are ready. You can try to time a postcard or radio spot to reach them at the ideal moment, but you’re basically playing a game of chance.
Some marketers think of prospecting as a numbers game. They figure that if they can get their message in front of enough people, some of them should be ready to buy.
I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. I prefer to recognize that paying for marketing is a cost of doing business. What you’re really trying to do is to make sure that the customer remembers your brand when they need your services.
Raising Brand Awareness
Getting people to seek you out is a tricky endeavor. It can be hard to find new leads, or even to figure out where your current customers are coming from. When asked, many of your long-term customers will say things like, “I’m not sure where I heard about you. I saw you in the paper and a friend told me about you.”
While answers like these add complexity to tracking your lead sources, they also tell you a lot about the level of brand awareness that your company has in your community.
If you want to get more customers, you must expand awareness of your brand. While creating brand awareness requires a fair bit of both time and money, rest assured that these two resources are directly proportional.
In other words, you can build your brand more quickly if you’re willing to spend the cash. Regardless of your budget, there are a few simple marketing rules you can follow to get credible results.
1. Target a Specific Demographic.
You wouldn’t send a direct mailer to a homeowner 500 miles away. They’re just not in your service area. But there are other ways to reduce the number of potential prospects you need to reach.
You can maximize your marketing dollar by dividing your target demographic into smaller segments. Let’s look at an example. Super Clean Carpet Cleaners services a suburb of a major city. Looking at the statistics for age, home ownership rates and average housing prices in that suburb, we can figure that Super Clean has a potential marketable base of roughly 50,000 prospects. But their marketing budget can’t stretch to effectively reach all of them.
So what does Super Clean do? They break it up a little bit. They focus on a couple specific subdivisions by mailing out a thousand letters to a targeted list of prospects. They also market in person to that same list of prospects, dropping off door hangers and driving their truck through the neighborhood. If they have down time between jobs, they might even go door to door offering free estimates.
In fact, Super Clean spends their entire prospecting budget on marketing solely to these prospects for over three months. In a short period of time, they have the subdivision locked–and they didn’t go over budget.
Following this method will help you to market effectively on even the smallest budget. When one of your marketing segments is saturated, just move your efforts to the next area.
2. Be Consistent.
We touched upon this idea at the beginning of this journal, but it’s so important that it bears repeating: you must have a consistent marketing message.
People buy the brands that seem the most familiar to them, and the best way to achieve familiarity is through repetition. All of your marketing materials should share the same colors, fonts and logo. Written materials should drive your tag line home, as should radio spots and other commercials.
There’s a reason why Ivory Soap has used the slogan “It Floats!” for over 120 years.
Direct mail, telemarketing, door hangers, banner ads, direct selling, Facebook pages, billboards and coupons are all examples of individual channels.
The most difficult step in most marketing campaigns is creating the content.
If you use the same content multiple times (for example, sending the same newsletter more then once), it will become less effective each time, and you will begin to see diminishing returns.
However, imagine creating the content once, and then “broadcasting” it on multiple channels.
Your monthly newsletter content could become a blog, marketing email, Facebook post, direct mailer or even a call script.
By broadcasting, you can maximize your content milage, raise awareness of your brand both on and off-line, and get your brand in front of lots of different people.
The bottom line: always be on the lookout for ways to reach your target demographic. Be present where they work, worship and play.
Try sponsoring a local charity or community organization, like a Boys & Girls Club baseball team. The kids will appreciate your contribution, and their parents will see your company’s name on the uniforms at every game.
At a bare minimum, you really need your brand on your truck. Let’s face it, it’s a great billboard for your business. At the very least, when the phone isn’t ringing and your marketing budget is tapped, you can always drive your truck around the subdivisions of your target demographic.
Building your brand takes time. If you’re bootstrapping your business, it could easily take a few years to get it really cooking. So be sure that you plan appropriately, and never, ever miss an opportunity to build your brand.