Article by: MaryEllen | Monday, August 8, 2011

Branding Your BusinessBy MaryEllen Tribby

On the way home from visiting my pals over at Early To Rise, I saw this sign for a local business.

I found it so amusing that I said out loud, “Now, that’s funny!” Keep in mind I was alone in my car.

As I continued my drive home I could not get this bizarre sign out of my mind. My feeling about it went from funny to weird… to sad.

Why sad?

Because the owners of this business were making the same mistake I see so many online entrepreneurs make.

Make Up Your Mind

They are confused about their identity and of their target market.

Unfortunately, this is a common mistake. Business owners try to do too much… or be everything to everyone… and they can’t. Because of this, three things generally happen:

1) They fall victim to the “Shiny Penny Syndrome”. This is when they get distracted from their core product in favor of the next bright and shiny thing. I can just see the owners of a little cigar business getting caught up in the idea that hotdogs would make their business better. All of a sudden, instead of focusing their energy on growing the cigar side of the business, their attention is split. Because of this, their marketing is not as strong as it should or could be. And, they wind up leaving revenues on the table.

2) They ignore the principle of “one step removed”. I have purchased gifts in cigar shops on several different occasions. Never once did I think to myself, “Man, I wish I had a nice wiener loaded with sauerkraut and mustard right now.” But what I did want –  and have purchased – was a lovely lighter that complements my primary purchase – the cigar. The lighter is a product that is just one step removed from the cigars. The synergy is obvious. Hotdogs, on the other hand, are in a whole different league. They don’t mesh well with cigars. Not synergistically (they don’t make sense the way lighters and humidors would), not in customer terms (the people who buy hotdogs may not want to buy cigars, and vice versa), and not in marketing terms (you use different marketing tactics to sell cigars than you would to sell hotdogs).

3) They wind up damaging their brand. When you start a business, your name begins to stand for something. It could stand for top-notch products and excellent customer service… Or it could stand for a confusing store that sells an odd combination of things – neither of them very good.

Clearly, our hotdog-and-cigar sellers have all three problems. They are in the middle of an identity crisis that’s threatening to destroy their business.

But, as I said earlier, they are not alone.

The fact is, a big percentage of new businesses suffer from the same image confusion. It’s possible that YOUR business could be confused as to what it should be. Fortunately, it’s simple to narrow your focus and, in doing so, strengthen your business, your marketing, and ultimately, your revenues.

The first place to start is with your brand.

Yes, I am talking about the “B” word! Don’t get me wrong… I still stand by the motto that direct response marketing is the only skill that pays you for life. You need to embrace, know, and implement direct response marketing if you want a real company or if you want to be the superstar marketer in someone’s company. So, in no way am I recommending that you sacrifice direct response marketing in favor of branding.

But, branding DOES have its place in business. In fact, it can help to clarify your business identity both to you and to your market. Create a brand now, and it will help you keep a uniform and consistent message in all of your business communications.

What Is a Brand and Why Do You Need One?

A brand is simply a clear, powerful public image. When you develop the right brand you will have a public persona that stands for something recognizable and compelling. Your brand will stand out in the minds of everyone you come in contact with. Including your customers and potential customers.

Your brand should be unswervingly linked with your name. Think about it: you hear Steve Jobs, you think Apple; you hear Mark Zuckerberg, you think Facebook; you hear Tony Hsieh, you think Zappos (even now after he sold the company).

If you are thinking, “Well, I am not an Apple or a Zappos…” Well, neither am I. However, when you hear the name MaryEllen Tribby you immediately think Working Moms Only. And my company has only been around for 18 short months!

The reason my name is synonymous with Working Moms Only is because of the brand that we have built. Our brand screams advocacy for the working mom. One that says, “This is the community where passion, success, and empowerment meet.” One where all the best resources are provided for a healthier, wealthier, more balanced/blended lifestyle for the working mom.

Here’s the kicker: the days of spending $250,000 with a mammoth advertising agency to develop that brand are thankfully as dead as the dinosaurs.

Guidelines for Online Entrepreneurs

If you are ready to create your brand, you must first do the following four things:

1)    Create a mental picture in the minds of your prospects. This picture should represent your personality, your values, your mission, and the qualities that make you unique among your competitors. I have written before that people want to work with people they know, like, and trust. People don’t want to work with an untrustworthy, faceless, nameless marketing or services company.

2)    Make a promise. It lets your community know what they can expect from you. It implies a covenant between you – the service/product provider – and your prospects. You want your prospects and customers thinking that every single time they receive something from you, it will be worthy of their time and trust.

3)    Exceed all expectations. Making the promise is the easy part. Keeping and exceeding the promise is what your customers will remember about you. Always think, “Trust is a must.”

4)    Become the foremost authority in your niche. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. When you become an authority that specializes, you can influence your customers and prospects and they will respond. You will be able to attract more clients more easily, increase your prices, and create a steady flow of new prospects via word of mouth.

Branding is about taking control of how others perceive you even BEFORE they come in direct contact with you.  Your customers and prospects all have a certain perception of you. Wouldn’t you prefer that YOU dictate their perceptions?

But you must keep in mind that your brand needs to be authentic. And when you remain true to yourself, your brand develops organically (good or bad).

So what can you do right now to create your brand?

•    Stop doing anything that appears cheesy, slimy, or unprofessional. You know that web page that looks like your six-year-old built it? Take it down. Or the brochures that look cheap? Stop passing them out and burn the rest. You are going to pay the same amount of money for a crappy web page as you are for a great web page. The difference is in demanding excellence and finding the right person to build it for you.

•    Incorporate your name into your business. As I said earlier, people want to do business with other people. If your name is not associated with your business you are making it harder to brand yourself. Look at my website. It clearly says “MaryEllen Tribby presents”

Working Moms Only Site

•    Develop a tag line. As you can see from the above, I have a tagline: “Where Passion, Empowerment and Success Meet”. This helps your prospects understand your mission from the start.

There you go. Three ways you can boost your brand immediately – and without paying an extra cent.

Take the time to improve your brand, and you could see your sales soar… At virtually no cost. Please let me know which of these steps you implement and how they worked out for you. When you do so, you help the entire Working Moms Only community grow!