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Beat the Competition: Claim Fame

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  • | 6:00 p.m. February 6, 2004
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Beat the Competition: Claim Fame

You have a personality. So does your company. Is it good or is it bad?

The American Marketing Association describes a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design and a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competition."

More importantly, a brand is the source of a "promise" to the consumer. It conjures relevant, unique benefits. Every action of the organization should be focused on enhancing delivery against the brand's promise. A well-marketed brand has a heart and a soul and a long life.

Be the best

A brand image is your claim to fame! It's what makes your customer or client buy your product the first time, the second time and thereon out. It is the totality of perceptions resulting from an experience with and knowledge of the brand. It is how your consumers perceive your brand. The difference between a sales gimmick and satisfying a perceived consumer's need is delivering on a perceived brand promise. The key is to be the best at something that's important to the customer and to keep building and strengthening your position. A brand is more than a bottle, a nameplate or a fancy box. It's a provider of good feelings and emotions.

For smaller, younger organizations such as the great middle market that employs over 85% of Gulf Coast employees, key branding activities include developing a strong brand identity, building brand awareness through public relations, advertising, signage, packaging and promotion. It also includes other less expensive every day relationship marketing actions and developing a better understanding of their consumers through market research as simple as a customer survey or an opinion return card. For Gulf Coast service-oriented entrepreneurs, you can build trust through consultative selling, legendary service, customer testimonials, guarantees, post sale follow-up and other approaches.

Redefine your brand

Because younger organizations must build brands quickly with limited funds, they often resort to breakthrough ideas. They literally redefine their categories, initiate out-of-the-box marketing tactics, strong differentiation, seek and employ bold management steps, and the element of surprise to pierce the marketplace clutter of more established brands.

In taking such risks, these smaller, younger organizations have much more to gain and far less to lose than their larger, older counterparts.

Brad Van Auken, author of "Brand Aid" states that the "lifetime value of the consumer" concept is based on the fact that it is much more cost effective to keep a good customer than to attract a new one. For large ticket items sold by Gulf Coast entrepreneurs such as luxury motor cars, real estate or estate planning, or items that require frequent purchase over time such as fine dining, designer resort wear or personal services, the lifetime value of a consumer can be very high. Encouraging young customers to buy your products and services will help your business to remain healthy over time and to create a longer lifetime value of your customer. In fact, Professor Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys Inc., says it costs "seven times more to get a new customer than it does to get a current customer to make an incremental purchase."

What to do

Here are the basic techniques for making a satisfied customer an advocate and thereafter a "keeper for life": constant database marketing, automatic product customization, everyday personal touches, sincere legendary service and meaningful loyalty consumption rewards.

Anyway you look at it there are only three ways to increase your sales. Simplistic though they may be, here they are: First, get and keep more customers. Second, get those customers to buy more often. Third, get that larger customer base to buy larger ticket or higher margin goods and services.

Stand for something. Have just one, singular, unique selling proposition. Think it through, write it down, secure partner and staff buy-in, and review it often. Live it always! In the final analysis, you are your Brand!

Lou Lasday, an independent marketing advisor who resides on Longboat Key, creates action-oriented strategic corporate initiatives for emerging companies. A career direct response executive, he has been a general partner of a national advertising agency and regional president of the American Marketing Association.


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