By: Gordon Conner

Managing a small business can drive you batty at times. You have to do it all: you are the President, CMO, CFO, HR Manager and, of course, you turn the lights out at night. Being responsible for marketing can be very challenging and mistakes can be deadly. Your marketing can make or break your business. Here are 5 marketing mistakes that small businesses can avoid.

1- Don’t know who your customer is

So you think your market is everybody. You don’t have time to identify who your customer really is. If you want to be successful, you need to define your niches. You need to understand their needs, concerns and wants and give them what they require. Once you know who your customer is, you can tailor your message to that customer and make better decisions about how to use your limited resources.

2- No Unique Selling Proposition

Why should buyers buy from you? What makes your products and services better than your competition? Why do you stand out from the rest? If you want to compete on price, as a small business you’ll lose. You simply become a commodity. You need to give your customers something better as their reason to choose you.

3- No Pricing Strategy

If you have a good pricing strategy, you’ll have an advantage over your competitors and a way to create a sustainable business. It’s not easy to do because you can wind up under charging and leaving money on the table, or overcharging and no one wants to pay the price.

4- Patience, Persistence, and Consistency

Do you find yourself getting discouraged when you don’t see immediate results? You have to remember that marketing isn’t something that gets results instantly. The answer is to develop a consistent message with the appropriate frequency, in the right media to reach your targeted market. If you don’t keep up the consistency, long-term results won’t happen.

5- Not enough marketing budget

Marketing is a long-term investment and requires a consistent investment of funds and time to work. Even Facebook isn’t free anymore. In social media you have to invest time, but also money if you want your content to be seen by a lot of prospective buyers.

  • To stay in business … You must make a profit
  • To make a profit … you must sell stuff
  • To sell stuff … you have to market!

If you stop marketing to cut costs – your marketing efforts will fail, and your business will fail. It’s that simple.

To operate a small business, you must take risks. Mistakes will inevitably happen. Learn from them and move on. If you want to move faster, watch other successful business owners and learn from their mistakes. Start by getting your customers defined properly (who they are, their concerns, needs, pains, etc.), develop a solid marketing plan around that market and avoid these 5 marketing mistakes. Are you making these mistakes? Call BranWorks for an assessment. It’s Free!

And don’t forget … patience is a requirement for successful marketing.


About the Author

gordon-at-st-john[2]BGordon Conner is a Marketing, Branding, and Copywriting Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing, copywriting and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.

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By: Gordon Conner

In this age of digital marketing there’s an added emphasis on more content, so it seems that some companies, big ones included, are making an attempt at writing their own copy and not getting any outside help.

Apparently, some folks are thinking that it can’t be that hard. Why can’t we just do it ourselves? Interestingly, while some people are viewing themselves as copywriters, fewer see themselves as designers. Hmmmm!

Unfortunately, the results we’re seeing aren’t justifying this new view.

We all need to write and today’s needs are even greater than ever before. But, regardless of how good you are at something, nothing beats doing it for a living. One of the biggest reasons to hire a copywriter is because they do it every day. But, just exactly what do you think a professional writer adds to your advertising and content, in addition to the fact that they know how to write?

For starters, here are 5 things that a good copywriter can bring to the table:

1. They’ll figure out exactly what you’re selling

This sounds strange, but this is a common area where we see problems. I don’t mean understanding the features of the product. People buy on emotion. A good copywriter will come up with lots of ways of writing it. Like the angle, the sell and just what are you really selling? How will it affect people’s lives? Is it based on money? Happiness? Prestige? Remember, McDonald’s doesn’t just sell hamburgers.

2. They’ll help you find your audience

Just who is the audience? How do they think? How about fears and desires? What’s their voice? A good copywriter can tailor the message for any audience.

3. They’ll help refine your narrative

Every company and product has a story. Look at Nike and Apple. Writing compelling copy of any length, from advertorial to PPC copy requires a similar skill. Sometimes the shortest requires the most effort. The narrative for a single ad might take a couple of weeks and end up with only 10 words of copy. If asked by the client why they have to pay so much for 10 words, the answer could be that the copywriter had the training and talent to recognize the right 10 words.

4. They’ll keep your message simple

Many product messages can get very complex when being explained to their audience. A good story can magically simplify the message. And a good copywriter has the ability to do that, even when the message is far from it. The most sophisticated concepts can be explained simply.

5. They’ll do the unexpected

Have you ever heard anyone say they want to look and sound just like their competitor? Why? A good copywriter will dig and find out what’s different when comparing to the competitor and position you differently. If you do everything just like your competitor, you’re inviting a commodity situation. Then you’ll have to compete on price. Is that what you want? A good copywriter will find an interesting way to get your message across. As they say, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”


About the Author

Gordon Conner is a Copywriter, content writer and blogger who writes “Snappy Copy That Sells Stuff”. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 39 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@GordonConner.com. or www.GordonConner.com.

Ask most small business owners to make a presentation at the local Chamber meeting and the first thing you see is beads of sweat forming on her forehead. That, of course is if you haven’t been overly distracted by the sound of her knees knocking. While it may be easy to admit to the fear of public speaking, it’s the fear of having to write the speech that is really the killer.

Speakers depend on speechwriters, athletes need coaches, and business owners need copywriters. Here are some areas where business owners need help with their copywriting fears:

Writing Copy for Big Pieces

  • Web Copy: You see it every day, web pages thrown together from multiple sources, which make no sense to anyone.
  • Ebooks: Business owners feel they know all there is to know about their business. And they all want a bigger mailing list. An eBook can show off the owner’s expertise, while gaining additions to that list.
  • PR Releases: Think press releases are a thing of the past? Small business owners would disagree with you. If you’re in a smaller market, publicity can generate the local media coverage the business owner is looking for.
  • Blog Posts: Many small business owners get hung up on blogging. Providing relevant copy for your market and a clear call-to-action can be the source of more profit in less time.
  • Articles: Ask an owner about advertorials, article marketing or native advertising and you just might get nothing but blank faces. They love the idea, but don’t ask them to write it.
  • Sales Pages and Landing Pages: Long-form sales letters are often familiar subjects for owners. But to pull together callouts, with long copy and calls-to-action and they’re stuck in their tracks.

Small Bits & Pieces of Copy

  • Commercials: Radio and television is often very popular with small businesses, especially in smaller markets. But there’s a sacrifice- clear and concise doesn’t match up with short and quick. Take your pick.
  • Catalog or Product Descriptions: For some reason, small business owners have a hard time with catalog copy, product descriptions and menu items. Why is that?
  • Email:Put together a few canned response emails, template sales emails and inquiry emails and you’ll save a bunch of time.
  • Ad Copy: Things like taglines, internal signage, chamber directory ads and phone listings haven’t changed for some small businesses in years. They need some work.
  • Brochures: Sales materials, like brochures, sales cards, etc. are still an expected way to do business. And being creative will, not only make your materials stand out and present a strong message, they are also useful in many other aspects of your business.
  • Status Updates: Are you on social media? If so, you need regular status updates, which look much like commercials.

Copy for Mouth Pieces

  • Speeches and Presentations: Here’s where a good copywriter can come in handy for our small business speaker mentioned above. Whether a full body or outline, many of the very best presenters and speakers tap into the services of a good writer.
  • Profiles and Bios: Guess what, small business owners seem to have a hard time writing about themselves. They are asked for bios in print or media kits, as well as pages for the web, all of which could use the touch of a professional writer.
  • Video and Podcast Scripts: Ask a small business owner to produce a video or podcast and what you get is “um”, “er”, “so” and “basically.” Good writing and a little help from tools like CuePrompter can help them to sound awesome by saying the words that were written for them.
  • Transcription and Re-purposing: More and more recorded presentations and interviews are being called for. A good copywriter can extract the valuable portions of these gems as an asset to the company in many forms.

Specialty Copy Pieces

  • SEO Copywriting: Do you know how to write headlines, title tags and meta data for your web copy? You’re not alone and this is getting more important in order to be found on the Internet. This is one of the most requested forms of writing today.
  • Infographics: This writing style not only requires writing talent, but also design expertise, as well. For a writer to partner with a designer adds a lot of strength and flow to the work.
  • Tutorials: Instructional and technical manuals are necessary for many businesses. And where there is high turnover, operating manuals are often required for new employees. Manufacturers often need how-to manuals to include with their products.
  • Grant Writing: If you think writing a blog post will scare a small business owner; wait until they are asked to write a grant proposal. The writer may even shy away from this one.
  • Policies: As more businesses launch their own website, things like disclaimers, terms of service and codes of conduct are needed. Get used to the back-and-for with the legal department.

Ask a small business owner to write and you’ll often see them delegate to someone else in the company. Not all of the services above will be required by every business. In fact, some businesses may not have considered some of them yet. But they probably will. Small business owners are just that, small business owners. They are not writers. This is not where their time is best spent. Get yourself a good copywriter and do what you do best. Eliminate the fear and run your business.


About the Author

 gordon-at-st-john[2]

Gordon Conner is a copywriter, content writer and blogger who writes “Snappy Copy That Sells Stuff”. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 42 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@GordonConner.com, or www.GordonConner.com.

Do You Have a Brand Strategy?

Do your employees live your brand?

Do you know where your brand is going? Probably not. Buy I can assure you that you have a brand, whether you know it or not. All you have to do is interact with the public and you have a brand. The difference is you just aren’t managing it very well and the result probably isn’t what you’d like it to be.

That brand, for what it’s worth, is being built (or destroyed with every contact that you have with your customers. Of course the big ones make a big difference, like the sales transactions themselves. But there’s a bunch more stuff that counts too. Like in-coming phone calls, advertising, business cards, websites, on-hold messages,clean or dirty bathrooms, the clothes you’re wearing, social media posts and a bazillion other things that may not seem to count. But they do! And that tattoo on your left arm? That counts. They’re all drops into that branding bucket of yours and just one bad one can contaminate the whole bucket. 

A lot of people brag that their brand is good PR, or a good image. But you know what it really is? It’s what they’re saying about you behind you’re back. It’s the relationship you  have with those folks. It’s whether you have a “good name” or a “bad name”.

So, if your brand is such an intangible thing, how can you determine the status of that brand, and, more importantly, how can you manage it without a bunch of research? As a small business, you probably can’t. 

What Can You Do?

Is this part of your brand strategy?

So, the first thing to do is look inside. It’s really difficult for many companies to go develop a consistent brand strategy, because they really don’t know what their company is all about to begin with. For example, in one sentence, can you tell me what your company does? If you can’t do that, you probably aren’t doing a very good job of projecting a consistent brand story with your marketing and what you do day in and day out. 

Next, ask your customers what they  think. If they don’t give you the same answer, you have a problem. That means it’s time to add a little focus to your efforts and the story you’re telling about your business.

Now this doesn’t have to be a complicated issue. It’s actually better if you just keep it simple. Just start with that simple sentence tells what your brand is about. And then just go back to that sentence anytime you do something that’s business-related. Of course, that means everything. Period. Those little baby steps? They all add up.

That brand that you’re trying to build? It shows up everywhere. Everything your business does. For example, if you’re trying to build a luxury brand and you launch a 99 cent sale. Now does that really make any sense? You’ve just destroyed your brand. On the flip side of that coin, if you’re a budget destination and you try to introduce high-end luxury amenities, that diversion just put the brakes on your whole story.

The obvious place where you see your brand develop, one way or the other, is in your marketing. All of that advertising and promotional stuff should be consistent and follow the brand story and guidelines. Banks shouldn’t use a Comic Sans font, and a car wash shouldn’t use black and grey on their signage. What are people thinking, sometimes?

But the biggest opportunity to build your brand is in your customer experience. If the snazzy marketing that brought them in the door doesn’t match up with what they find when they get there, you’ve just wasted your time and all your money. It ain’t going to work!

And, for crying out loud, show your marketing to your employees and explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. They’re the ones who will make it all work. Or maybe not.

What s your brand strategy? Are you getting anywhere? Are you a good story-teller?


About the Author:

Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more atwww.BranWorks.com

Your brand is the house where your company lives. People get an idea of the people who live there by what they see from the street. If that house isn’t being kept up and the place looks outdated, we tend to think the inside must be sloppy and the people who live there must not care what others think.

Just like your home, your brand needs tender loving care. Those companies who built a good solid brand a few years ago, and have been letting that brand slide in recent years, are now realizing that their customers are dwindling and their image isn’t as solid as it once was. The small companies who were ignored by these brands are suddenly appearing to be more innovative and relevant in comparison. Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to walk in and ask some tough questions. What is no longer resonating with customers and prospects? Is the old Value Proposition cutting it in comparison to the competition? Is the website making a good first impression? In other words, what is the brand’s curb appeal like now?

Is it time to take action? There are several options. It all depends on whether the needs are fixable, or is it time to start over?

Mission and values

A great example of a company that has done an excellent job of driving home the company’s mission and values is USAA. Each employee knows exactly what the mission is and has a real purpose for going to work every day. Your values need to be clearly articulated to employees, customers and stakeholders. The mission should let everyone know what your goals are. Test your company. Randomly ask your employees what your company’s mission is. If your mission is important to your employees and customers, don’t mess with it. But if your employees can’t answer affirmatively, they have jobs, but no purpose. This means the mission doesn’t have any value for them, or it isn’t being promoted properly. In this case, you need to take a fresh approach.

Messaging and positioning

How are you different from your competition? What makes you valuable in a special way? Most CEO’s think they have the answer. But CEO’s aren’t your customers. Sometimes they are simply too close to the forest to see the trees and their outlook is completely outdated. Or maybe the CEO does know, but the messages haven’t kept up with the times, nor have they been adapted for all of the critical touchpoints. Not sure? Start with some research to find out what customers and prospects really think. Now, compare this to what you want them to think. This, along with a solid brand audit, will tell you if you need a new approach to the market.

Creative storytelling

You may find that your mission, vision and values are solid. But after an audit, you may conclude that your messaging just isn’t cutting it for you. Your core messaging may simply be out of date, or you may not be getting your story across well enough to get attention and make your company remembered. Your story needs to take a life of its own. To do this you need to be bold and creative. Boring the market will never work. Your message should be making you just a bit nervous. If not, you aren’t taking it far enough to break through the clutter to convey a distinctive message.

As a leader, you need to pay attention to your brand and it’s responsibilities every day. Many CEO’s don’t think of their brand as a priority because they aren’t putting out brand fires every day. In the meantime, the brand is going downhill. The result can be a permanent damage to the foundation of your business. Maintenance is mandatory. Keep it fresh. Continuously monitor what your customers and prospects are thinking. If you can manage their impression of your business you can dramatically affect your bottom line. What are you doing to stay on top of your company’s brand? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


About the Author

gordon-at-st-john[2]BGordon Conner is a Marketing, Branding & Copywriting Coach who helps build WOW brands for small  & mid-sizedlocal businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 42 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. Read more from our blog at https://branworks.com/blog/, or visit our website at www.BranWorks.com.

No Customer Experience,
No Brand!

What is the single most important opportunity that your business has available in 2018? It’s the experience that your customer has when doing business with you. If your customers experience isn’t a good one and better than your competition, you can forget your brand. After all, why should she come back if she has a bad experience. She can do better elsewhere. There are many reports out today that say that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key differentiator by 2020. That’s less than two years away and for many companies, that prediction has already come to pass.

So, what is customer experience? It’s everything your business does that has an impact on how the customer feels after her experience with you. It includes all touchpoints that are involved during contact with the customer, as well as those that have no impact at all. Customer experience is all about how your customer feels about the way she has been treated. The result is how likely she will return and tell others about her experience.

5 Ways That Customer Experience is So Important

  1. Makes For Happy Customers

Customers appreciate it when you listen to their needs and act accordingly to give them what they feel they need.

  1. Reduce Employee Turnover

Customers have identified bad brand experiences as the primary reason for employee turnover. Good customer experience strategy helps tremendously in identifying the cause for this churn.

  1. More Income

Good customer experience strategy goes a long way in increasing both short-term and long-term revenue.

  1. Beats the Competition

Most companies have no long-term plans or goals. This leaves the field wide open for well executed customer experience strategy that out shines the competition and places those companies in the lead. A strong customer experience plan makes it’s way throughout the organization before the competition knows what hit them.

  1. Makes Brand Advocates out of Customers

Forums and review sites can make you or break you. If you have done a good job to transforming customers into brand advocates, the outcome can be a good one. If not, this outcome can be the Death Nell of your business.

 How Brand Advocacy and local marketing can be an asset:

  1. Recommendations to friends, family and neighbors.
  2. Shares and good mentions on social media.
  3. Positive input throughout all of the online activities that are used by today’s world.

Brand Advocacy, spurred by an outstanding customer experience strategy can make or break your business.


About The Author

Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at www.BranWorks.com.

How To WOW Your Customer To Love Your Brand

There’s a lot more to your brand than a logo and tagline. The brand of your company is made up of virtually everything that your business does and every experience your customer has with your company. This all determines whether the customer falls in love with you or they walk away, never to be seen again.  When your brand strategy and the experience you deliver to consumers are inextricably linked, you’ll achieve increased demand, greater share of wallet and loyalty levels competitors will envy.

Satisfied customers are nice, but delighted customers are more likely to return.

Delight customers repeatedly, and at every touchpoint, and you will earn yourself some raving fans! The first key is to nail the basics. It doesn’t matter how many red-carpets you roll out if you’re not delivering a good customer experience (Cx), consistently. You can only dazzle customers for so long. Eventually, they’re going to see behind the curtain.

However, once you’ve got a good handle on the basics and moved customers from satisfied to delighted, add WOW Moments. These are the unexpected moments that surprise and delight your prospects and customers. 

Do Your Customers Like You?
Better Still, To Build a Lasting Brand, Customers Must Love You! 

It really is simple. You just have to get people to like you. Let’s face it; people do business with people they like. They don’t want to buy their new car from a shyster salesman. And they aren’t going to continue using a dry cleaner that consistency destroys their clothes. So, obviously, you need to start by doing your job. And doing it well, by WOWing your customers. If you do it well enough, you may eventually have customers talking about you, in a good way. And that could be the start of building your new WOW brand. We’ve been doing that here at BranWorks for 40 years. Get your customer touchpoints right with remarkable experiences and WOW moments, and before you know it, you can have the brand that you’ve always wanted.

A Moment of Surprise & Delight.

We Like to Call Them 

WOW Moments.

WOW moments can be little, everyday things like an unlikely score in the game or a snappy text from a friend. They can also be big moments; moments that make you think twice. In that blip of time, everything changes. In a good way. WOW moments blindside you, and you’re thankful for the surprise. But just getting what you want isn’t a WOW moment; it’s getting EXACTLY what you want when you didn’t know you needed it.

Brands that WOW survive for lifetimes. They go beyond a product or service, they become a lifestyle. Loyalty doesn’t come for free; you have to do something meaningful first. 

Brands that WOW deliver maximum ROI. Whether you’re a national name or local watering hole, BranWorks works hard to deliver customer experiences and branding strategy without demanding an arm and a leg from you.


About the Author

Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at www.BranWorks.com.

Build A Better Brand By Adding These WOW Factors

Satisfied customers are nice, but delighted customers are more likely to return. Delight customers repeatedly, and at every touch point, and you will earn yourselves some raving fans! The first key is to nail the basics. It doesn’t matter how many red carpets you roll out if you’re not delivering good customer service consistently. You can only dazzle people for so long. Eventually, they’re going to see behind the curtain.

However, once you’ve got a good handle on the basics, to move customers from satisfied to delighted, add a little WOW Factor! These are the unexpected moments that surprise and delight your prospects and customers. Here are 25 ways to add the WOW Factor to your work:

  1. Write handwritten thank you notes
  2. Teach customers something new (webinars, events, white papers, etc.)
  3. WOW just one customer (they’ll tell more)
  4. Spend quality get to know time together
  5. Give a meaningful book as a gift
  6. Your customers will love a simple loyalty program
  7. Reward social media customers will extras
  8. Meet-up and treat far-away customers to coffee when you travel
  9. Send a charitable gift in your customer’s name
  10. Treat your customer to a surprise upgrade
  11. Throw a party, barbecue, picnic or wine tasting for your customers
  12. Offer free goodies (coffee, badges, flowers)
  13. Send cards on strange holidays (towel day, planking day?)
  14. Implement customer suggestions and let them know when you do
  15. Offer real people for customer service
  16. Discount a customer’s bill just because you want to
  17. Recognize specials events (anniversaries, birthdays, babies)
  18. Hold special customer-only events
  19. Send funny or personalized gifts (special occasions with their photo?)
  20. Special gifts for reaching milestones
  21. Make your first contact with a customer special
  22. Make your response time as fast as possible
  23. Add personality to every touchpoint)
  24. Do unexpected stuff (refer to competitors when out of stock)
  25. Thank your team (happy hours, lunch, hand-written thank you’s, trust)

25 outstanding ways to WOW customers. Every attempt at giving thanks must be relevant and personalized, noticeable and sincere. These simple requirements will ensure your show of gratitude hits home with customers.

Show customers your thankfulness today by showing a WOW attitude on one (or more!) of these 34 ideas.


About the Author
gordon-at-st-john[2]BGordon Conner
is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 42 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at https://branworks.com/customer-experience-2/

Did you know that you have a distinct advantage over your larger competitors? You can do unique and strange stuff to WOW your customers. You don’t have any corporate red tape to stop you. You’re right there in the trenches, or on the phone every day. If you want to give a customer a discount, it’s your call.

There are many creative ways to help you go that extra mile to knock your customer’s socks off. And, at the same time, perhaps add WOW! to their buying experience and build on your WOW! brand. 

Lily Had A Better Idea

Lily Robinson (who insists that she is three and a half years old) was quite confused by one of Sainsbury’s products called tiger bread. In her eyes, the bread didn’t resemble a tiger at all, and in fact looked very much like a giraffe.

It’s hard to disagree with her!

With a little assistance from mom and dad, she wrote a letter to Sainsbury’s customer service department.

To her surprise, customer support manager Chris King (age 27and one-third) told her that he couldn’t agree more. He explained the origins of the name:

“I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea-it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it? It is called tiger bread because the first baker who made it a loooong time ago thought it looked stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.”

Lily’s mom enjoyed the letters and ended up posting them on her blog. Before long, this cute correspondence was a viral hit, and the pressure was on for Sainsbury’s to change the name of the product to the much more appropriate giraffe bread.

Knowing the customer was certainly right in this instance—and spotting an unusual opportunity to do something fun—Sainsbury’s changed the name of the bread and put signs around their stores that give a humorous nod to Lily’s original idea.

WOW!

 

About the Author

 Gordon at St. JohnGordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach and Copywriter who helps build killer brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 42 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.

A WOW! Brand Delivers

A true WOW! brand  is one of the few organizations that really does do what it’s brand promise says it will do and do so by offering the ultimate in customer experience. It doesn’t simply advertise and promise great experiences, it also puts it’s actions where it’s mouth is and delivers.

To produce the kind of WOW! experiences that customers expect, WOW! brands put this initiative at the top of their list of long-term goals. They focus on making every touchpoint with their customers a highlight in the customer’s journey. These WOW companies do whatever it takes to live up to their promises and do whatever the customer expects.  They structure their entire organization, (from R&D to Operations to Finance) to build long-term relationships that form the basis for future growth. These WOW! Brands realize that to keep their customers for the long haul, they have to do more than make promises, they have to deliver.

Companies that fail to meet the WOW! criteria are often referred to in the industry as NOW brands. With NOW brands it’s all about short-term goals. They’re quick to make grandiose promises, but they never deliver on those promises. They rush to over-promise without establishing the infrastructure to deliver on those promises. These are the brands that will make a quick color or design fix to solve what may be considered a problem. And they expect quick results because they are, after all, “quick” fixes. Management expects immediate results because that’s the mindset of many in today’s management ranks. Their objective is to avoid the investment in truly unique customer experience and the asking price that accompanies it.

So, why do most companies fail to meet their promises and deliver true customer experiences? Why do they become a NOW brand rather than a WOW! Brand? Typically, these NOW brands simply don’t know how to deliver the kind of WOW! experience across all of it’s customers touchpoints. Companies routinely fail to operationalize their brand promises – leading them to deliver experiences that do not fully meet the expectations created by their brand promise.

Many marketers simply don’t know how to fulfill the promises that are made in their brand promise and in their marketing campaigns. They’re great at making big promises, but when it comes to living up to those promises, they choose to leave that to others. So, what’s the solution? Lower prices, leading to becoming a commodity. Why? Because the wrong individuals were chosen to meet these objectives, without focusing on promise fulfillment.

Here’s How to create a WOW! Brand:

• Understand the brand and its impact on the customer
• Recognize their mission and role in living up to the brand promise
• Align and motivate their employees to execute the brand promise
• Empower their employees with the tools, information and authority to fulfill the brand promise.

Creators of NOW brands, who are unable to live up to their brand promises, should never be the ones to make their promises to begin with. When you have disappointed customers, you have consequences. And in most cases, most of those consequences are painfully financial.


About The Author

Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at www.BranWorks.com.

The Race For The Best Brand Customer Experience Is On!

There’s a lot more to your brand than a logo and tagline. The brand of your company is made up of virtually everything that your business does and every experience your customer has with your company. This customer experience determines whether the customer falls in love with you or they walk away, never to be seen again.  

To build a lasting WOW brand, customers must love you. Let’s face it; people do business with people they like. So, obviously, you need to start by doing your job. And doing it well. This is critical because if you do it well enough, and provide an unforgettably good experience, you will eventually have customers talking about you, in a good way. And that could be the start of building your new WOW brand. Keep it up and you’ll have a brand that will survive for a lifetime. Ignore your customer and she will ignore you, or worse! 


6 Critical Steps to Build Your WOW Brand

1. WOW Brand Promise-Never break your promise
2. WOW Value Proposition-Be the best in your niche
3. WOW Brand Identity-Be unforgettable
4. WOW Messaging-Knock their socks off
5. WOW Customer Experience-Make them love you forever
6. WOW Employee Engagement-The key to your success

About the Author

 Gordon at St. John

Gordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW! brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding  services for 42 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.

Tried to start a new business lately? It takes a lot of energy, time and Starbucks to get it off the ground. It’s tough, and even painful sometimes. You loose all your sleep, but at the same time your excited, anxious and scared to death.

You’re thinking you’re entire future is hanging in the balance, as you dream about how the world will be a different place as soon as you get this thing off the ground.

As a startup, you have a strong need to get this baby generating revenue before your seed money vanishes. So you’re feeling the pressure to launch NOW! And that’s normal. When most companies get their goals and strategy down, they launch. The first things to be addressed: logos, voice, social media and website are at the top of the list. It’s hard to argue with that thinking since all of the pundits offer these as the steps to build your brand.

But, here’s the rub. Brand identity and brand awareness are getting all of the attention. But wait a minute! Aren’t we missing something here? Isn’t branding more than logos, colors, voice and tone? Duh!

So, think about it. What is a brand anyway?

Isn’t your brand the experience you deliver to your customers? Remember the expression “your brand is how you make your customers feel”. The entire essence of this brand is about your connection with the customer, getting to know them and why they love you. After you learn all of this, then you can create the visual identity. So why do startups get this wrong so often? Here are a few suggestions:

Forget About Connection and Depend on Assumption

Entrepreneurs get so wrapped up in their concept and perfecting everything that they just fall in love with their idea. They focus on brand awareness and brand identity and don’t even think about asking their customers for feedback. And if they do get feedback, they just ignore it.

Startups are convinced their branding will cause customers to fall in love with their company if they have the right website, logo and marketing. And don’t try telling them otherwise. They simply ignore the customer and let the brand experience fall by the wayside.

Ready – Fire – Aim!

If this is the approach you’re going to take, you’re risking the fact that your brand won’t even resonate with the market. And if you don’t connect with customers, the result is a forgone conclusion. Trouble.

So what happens is you wind up fine-tuning the things that the customers don’t care about. Eventually the startup runs out of money and they finally realize what they’re missing: brand experience.

The Brand Identity Mistake

Entrepreneurs miss the boat by focusing on brand awareness and identity and they ignore brand experience. They wind up spending years promoting products the customers don’t even care about. No website design or logo is going to solve a flawed product/service. If they don’t get the brand experience right, brand identity doesn’t even matter. Why keep trying to add customers when your current customers don’t even love your product?

How to Nail Your Brand Experience

Neither you nor your web firm is qualified to evaluate brand experience. To do that you have to talk to real customers. By getting feedback from your customers, you can find out what they really feel about your brand and its value, plus you can use that feedback to make your product/service better, quickly.

Brand experience questions to ask your customers:

  1. Ask customers, “What would happen if you couldn’t use our product any more?” You want them to be unhappy in this scenario.
  2. Ask them why they would be unhappy and what is the main benefit they receive from your product.
  3. If your product was no longer on the market, what would they do as an alternative?
  4. Find out how your customers would describe your product to a friend.
  5. What type of person do you think would benefit most from your product?
  6. How can we improve our product to better meet your needs?

Which Method Makes More Sense? 

So, you have a choice, talk to your customers and find out how you can improve, or spend all of your money first without getting any results. Then talk to customers to find out how to improve.

So get your priorities straight. Improve your brand experience first. Don’t worry so much about the perfect brand identity or growing your company until you’ve built a tribe of passionate customers.  Nail it first, scale it second.


About the Author

 Gordon at St. John

Gordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW! brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding  services for 42 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.

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