What are you really selling?

table for 2 in a seaside setting

Businesses that know exactly who they are and what they provide have a leg up on the competition. They have a deeper understanding of their value. Smart business owners incorporate this into a positioning statement or brand positioning statement.

If your marketing is looking a little dull or you don’t have a positioning statement, here’s an exercise that might help. Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What are you known for?
  2. Why do customers come back? 
  3. What do they say?

Then add a 4th: Are you satisfied with who and where you are? 

If the answer is no, keep reading. 

Let’s say you’re a (fill in the blank) company. Maybe a service provider. Or a manufacturer. Or perhaps you have a retail location or e-commerce website where you sell products. So that part is clear.

But what you’re really selling is probably far more. Let’s look at some examples.

Suppose you own a restaurant – one that’s upscale, sophisticated, and pricey. Maybe a prix fixe tasting (or degustation) menu. The kind of place you’d go to celebrate an occasion……or WILL once the pandemic has passed.

Alinea comes to mind. In fact on their home page, it doesn’t say “make a reservation”, it says “book your experience”.

Or Everest offering “exquisite wine and cuisine.” I’ve been to neither but from their marketing copy and website, I know these are very special places.

What Alinea and Everest are providing is far more than just food. They’re offering an experience, in this case, a fine dining experience….white linen on the tables, heavy gleaming flatware, subdued lighting, candles, gracious and attentive service. Designed to impress the diners. And hopefully have you recommend them to your friends or share on social media.

In another instance, you might be a service provider. Maybe a health and wellness business. COVID-19 seems to have launched a bevy of them as we struggle to stay fit and sane. Some are doing well. Others are, no doubt, struggling.

Let’s look at Peloton – as in “super success.”

Peloton took a product — a stationary exercise bike, made it state-of-the art and set off on a mission to “bring the community and excitement of boutique fitness into the home”. In eight years, they’ve added “addictive” real-time classes and morphed into a lifestyle, a platform, an app, and a way of life.

Peloton is providing far more than an ability to exercise at home. They’ve created a fitness platform and community that has transformed the way people exercise. Of course, a pandemic helped them become the success they are. But they knew when they launched that they were providing something different. And they made sure their marketing made it clear.

The examples above are not typical success stories. They’re the crème de la crème. The exceptions. So how does this relate to your small business?

Build Your Brand

Simple. If you want to build your brand, really make an impression on potential clients and become more successful, you need to focus on exactly who you are and what you provide.

And to do that, why not learn from the best – the companies that are knocking it out of the park. Yes, you’re probably on a much smaller scale, but so what? Most of us are.

Which takes us back to the beginning of this post and the question: What are you really selling?

Whatever product or service you offer needs to positively impact the potential customer. It needs to add value to someone’s business, bottom line or life.

We think one of our clients does this really well. (Full disclosure: we had something to do with that ;)

Tulip Tree CBD is an e-commerce company with product distribution in some brick and mortar retail shops. Their positioning is clearly stated on their website home page:

Founded by a nurse with decades of clinical experience in critical care, hospice, cardiology, and natural medicine, Tulip Tree is the culmination of a lifelong passion to help people relieve pain and suffering.

The value? The support of a knowledgeable and experienced healthcare provider in helping to relieve pain and suffering. The opportunity to live pain-free. To ease anxiety, stress, PTSD and insomnia.

So while Tulip Tree sells premium quality hemp-based CBD,  that’s not what they really do. What they really do is enable people to live better lives.

If you’re not happy with your company’s positioning, go back to the start of this blog and work on the questions we shared. If you come up with a positioning statement you’re happy with, share it with us. We’d love to see what you really do.

Read more about positioning and branding:

Branding News: 6 examples of brand positioning to inspire

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4 Tips to Building a Better Brand

What do people think when they hear your company name? Ideally it’s something positive that reflects your brand vision.

If you’re not sure, it might be a good time to do a brand audit. If you’ve never done one, let’s start from square one.

What is a brand?
Your brand is your company’s identity. It’s the impression your company makes in the marketplace and in the minds of current and potential customers. Visually, it’s the look and feel of your logo, font, graphics and color palette. Emotionally, it’s your voice – the tone of your communications. Overall, it’s your messaging.

Does your tagline set you apart? How do you want your product or service to make people feel when they see it? What makes your product better than the competition? What is it about your company that inspires loyalty among your clients?

Good branding doesn’t just happen. It’s carefully created and nurtured and maybe occasionally tweaked. Then it’s disseminated far and wide. Consistently. Solid brands stand the test of time.

Let’s look at a few examples. See what comes to mind when you hear these company names.

Starbucks
No other coffee house in the world has the brand recognition of Starbucks. Even the rich coffee aroma outside a Starbucks is instantly recognizable. Your experience in a Starbucks will be consistently excellent around the world.

Mercedes-Benz
Luxury autos with price tags to match. Drive a Mercedes? You appreciate elegance, soft rich leather interiors and finely-tuned engines.

Chanel
Elegant, chic and sophisticated. When you wear apparel with the Chanel logo, it says you value quality and can afford it.

Subaru
Where Mercedes is all about luxury, Subaru’s marketing says “we make cars to keep your family safe”. Their commercials tug at your heartstrings — parents watching their child leave for college in the “old” family Subaru, young drivers avoiding horrendous accidents thanks to Subaru’s breaking system, a family heading on a car trip. The music is soothing, the emotions are strong, and the message is reassuring. If you care about your loved ones, buy a Subaru.

 

 

Amazon
Have you ever looked closely at the Amazon logo? It’s clean and simple and unassuming. And clever! The arrow below the company’s name goes from “a” to “z”. Just like Amazon’s huge range of products.

Big companies have big marketing budgets to build their brands. Your small business no doubt has a communication budget to match, but you still need brand development to grow your company.

So what can you do to build brand equity on a small business budget? Start by doing a brand audit. Ask yourself what people think when they hear your company’s name or see your logo. Is your logo recognizable? Does your messaging say “ we’ve got your back” or “we give a damn”? Is your tagline memorable?

If you answer no to any of these questions, the following tips should come in handy.

4 tips to build a better brand.

  1. Have a logo that’s relevant, unique and appealing. And use it in every bit of marketing material that comes out of your company – your website, newsletter, brochures, business cards, premiums, packaging.
  2. Have a style guide to make sure your brand identity is consistent across all marketing channels. This includes a clear color palette, a font guide and an overall look and feel. Memorable brands have solid style guides.
  3. Build a strong brand voice. Your marketing material should always sound like it came from your company, not a competitor. Your company’s personality should be consistent even as you target different markets. Is your company voice warm, fun and friendly like Southwest Airlines? Serious and knowledgeable about healthy eating like Whole Foods? Reassuring about environmentally safe products for your children like The Honest Company? Or quirky and fun like Dollar Shave Club?  Your brand voice sets you apart from the competition. It’s your promise to your customers.
  4. Make sure your messaging is clear and consistent. The language you use to appeal to Millennials is not the language you use to reach Boomers. It may also change as you add new products or services. But the company voice should not waiver.

Communicate clearly and relevantly to each market segment so they know you understand exactly what they want or need.

Need help with your branding? Find a reputable firm to help you. Like ours ;).

Reach us here.

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