When it comes to branding, many small business owners feel it is simply too expensive. After all, even if you use “free methods”, you still end up either spending your own time on it, or paying an employee to spend time on it – so “free” isn’t really free.
On top of that, advertising costs are becoming higher and higher as more people try to market their businesses online – and as every Tom, Dick and Harry present themselves as “digital marketing agencies” and “experts” on Facebook ads or Google ads.
Everybody wants to get onto the bandwagon, and the demand is driving advertising costs through the roof.
But where does that leave YOU?
Should you just give up on branding your small business, and simply focus on acquiring clients or customers as you go?
1. Maybe you should consider the cost of NOT branding your business:
Granted, branding is a slow process. It takes time before you see any real return on your ad spend or physical efforts.
But what happens if you DON’T do it?
Building a brand builds trust – which means that people will eventually be more likely to do business with you in general. Without your brand, you will simply be “just another person doing whatever you do”. The real traction – and revenue – that comes from having a solid brand will elude you – unless you live in a town with 500 people and you are the only plumber.
There is also another side to the proverbial coin:
What happens when you want to sell the business some day? If you have a strong brand, it adds immense value to your business. A solid brand is – to the buyer – a sign of a well established, trusted business which is guaranteed to generate revenue even without you at the helm.
In fact, in many cases, people don’t care about the businesses they buy – they want the brand. In some cases they just buy the brand itself, with no interest in the actual business you have built. In one case a brand I created and sold after two years was worth millions, where the actual business the brand was built for was worth way less. The company in reality bought the brand, and shut down the business.
If you fail to do your branding, you will not only be selling your business for much less than you could, but you will also attract fewer potential buyers, which may allow them to drive your selling price even lower.
Let’s say you built your business from scratch, and you plan to sell it after ten years. Depending on where you are located, the industry you are in, the size of your business and of course your competition… It is possible to sell a brand within six months of creation, if you make it worth something.
You could lose millions (when you calculate the loss of income and the lower selling price) if you failed to brand your business.
2. Squeeze every drop of value out of every penny (or minute) spent on branding your business:
a. Instead of advertising all over town, focus on where your customers or clients are most likely to reside. If, for instance, you budget second hand cars, it makes no sense to advertise in the affluent parts of town.
Note: Even if you use pay-per-click ads on Facebook or Google, and you advertise all over town, the lower click rate on your ads (many people not interested) will result in either you paying more per click, or your ads being shown to fewer people.
b. It may sound like a no-brainer – but add branding to everything you do. Use every tiny space that you possibly can to get your company name out there.
c. Consider online tools that will (i) save you time or get more done, and (ii) allow you to reach people who are online at the right time – even if you are not. An example would be using a scheduling tool that allows you to post to social media at the best possible time for each platform, even if you are not online at that time.
Tools that come to mind include Later and Buffer – both of which are cheap, but allow you to get your message out to people when most of them are active online.
d. Depending on your industry, try to find a way to incentivize your customers or clients (and/or make it easy for them) to tell others. This could range from simply adding social sharing buttons on your website, to using professional viral marketing tools – which allow you to offer rewards to those who help you spread the word.
You could, for instance, offer people “X” amount off their next purchase for telling others.
The most powerful viral tool is Upviral – which allows you to set multiple rewards levels, and allows you to capture the email addresses of those who visit the offer page. It doesn’t work for every industry – decide for yourself if it can work for yours – but when used properly, it can send a constant stream of new prospects to your business.
e. Consider creating content that will be useful for a long time to come, and which will only cost you once – but continue to spread your name over and over again. A simple example would be a short ebook which you can give away on your website. Every time that someone downloads it, one more person will see your brand and what you do.
Also, people tend to share helpful ebooks – depending on the topic.
f. Add your name and logo to every single piece of content you share on social media.
Every interaction with your business is an opportunity to build your brand. If you make use of every available opportunity, it can help you to reach more people while keeping your total marketing spend in check.
If you choose NOT to brand your small business…
Do the math. You will find that it costs a lot more to NOT do it.