Chapter 4 Branding/Customer Perception – Profit

CHAPTER 4

Branding/Customer Perception

A lot of business owners and consumers think of marketing as some great mystique. A part of marketing that goes unnoticed at times is “Branding” which is what you want your customers to think of when they think of your business. This is one of the, at times, forgotten concepts that helps grow your business.

Marketing includes advertising and customer contact that gives consumers a warm feeling about your business. Some of the concepts we’re going to talk about include value added and consistency of value, which are part of branding

Two important items that you can work on, on a basic level, that some would say is so simple that it’s a grassroots approach, are value added and consistency of value. No matter what kind of business you have, you can provide your customers with something additional they were not expecting. A great example of this is how Walmart (in their eye glass shop) will do some simple repairs on your glasses (at no charge) just so that you will remember them the next time you need glasses or an eye exam. In our manufacturer’s rep business, we provided some additional services such as inspections, failure analysis, and application engineering. We called it allowing us to be your surrogate employee.

In your own area, think of other business owners and some of the items that they do as value added that go above what their customers would expect. Now take those same thoughts and think what you can do in your own business that will give you that slight extra edge.

The next concept is that of consistency of value. In all of the businesses that I have worked with, the most successful ones have had consistency of value. Let’s look at what I’ve seen as one of the best examples of what happens when you consistently have a set value of how your customer thinks of you. A lot of you may not be old enough to remember Kmart in their heyday. They were considered the low-cost store and sales were booming. Their prices were lower than Macy’s, Sears, and the other large department stores. However, when Walmart came on the scene, they became known as the low-cost provider. This gave Kmart a major problem as they were no longer the low-cost merchandiser. They then made a major error (in my mind) and tried to provide some upscale items such as their Jaclyn Smith clothing line. Now, customers were confused as to whether Kmart was really the low-cost provider or do they go to them for items that they had been going to Macy’s or other more upscale merchandisers. As you may know, Kmart entered bankruptcy and I believe that their inconsistency caused confusion to the customer. In our restaurant business we noticed that some of our upscale competitors would sometimes be offering some very low-cost items (less quality offerings) along with their typical menu in order to try and take some of our business. Therefore, we made it a business decision to offer the same value of food consistently; however, we would offer a few specials (but at the same quality as our regular menu) in order to draw in some more customers. However, note that our value was always consistent.

In our manufacturer’s rep business, we kept the same consistency of value and always offered free inspections and the other services that customers came to expect from us. Please look at your business to confirm that you are always offering the same value and not confusing the customer. You may want to think of yourself when you go to buy something. Don’t you want to buy from a seller whose offerings are always consistent with what you’ve expected? In other words, you don’t want a surprise. Customers and people in general hate surprises.

Now, go make money and have fun.