Published August 29, 2011
Every small business owner would like to be able to charge more for their services or products than competitors without losing demand. With a strong brand, you can.
If you don’t believe me, visit your local drug store or neighborhood wine shop. There are generic drugs available at pennies a piece sitting alongside the same exact product but with the name of a major drug company somewhere on the box. Want a good bottle of red wine? You can buy one for thousands of dollars a bottle all the way down to $5 a bottle. Vineyards that are known for great wine can sell just OK wine at a premium price just by virtue of their name.
A strong brand takes the concept of pricing out of the equation. David Avrin in his book, It’s Not Who You Know It’s Who Knows You, says that the four most dangerous words to hear when pitching a client, asking for a raise, or selling a product, are: “All things being equal.” This implies that you haven’t been able to differentiate yourself from competitors and haven’t effectively communicated the promise of quality or unique value. Instead, you are now competing on price, location or any other factors that have nothing to do with the value of the service or product you provide.
A strong brand should convey quality, consistency and reliability. A company or individual with a strong brand can command a premium over competitors who offer the same product or service.
Developing a strong brand requires clarity of what you can deliver, consistency in the quality and reliability of your work or product, and constant, consistent messaging to your audience of who you are and what you can deliver to them.
Here are some steps that can help in developing a brand that works for you.
1. Understand what sets you apart from your competitors. What is it that you do better than anybody else? Know why you do it better than anybody else and be clear about the value you provide.
2. Accept that you can’t be great at everything. This is the age of specialization. When was the last time you went to your family doctor for a problem you had with your eyes, or your knees, or your back? We like specialized experts that have a niche focus.
3. You Can’t be Everything to Everyone. Identify a target audience that you enjoy working with, can relate to and would see value in your service and product. Having a specific customer base in mind also makes it a lot easier to create a focused marketing strategy.
4. Vocalize the Value of Your Brand. The weak economy has many consumers being tight-fisted with money, making it even more crucial to market your brand’s unique promise and value. When it comes to your message, consistency and constancy are keys to developing a strong, recognizable brand that can command a premium in the market place.
So, if there ever was a question in your mind about the value of a strong personal brand for your business a look inside your own medicine cabinet should dispel your doubts.
Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Coach with over 25 years experience as an entrepreneur and career professional and 10 years in business and finance. Mary is a dynamic and passionate coach whose talent is empowering entrepreneurs and careerists to perform at their peak by gaining clarity and more effectively communicating and leveraging their value proposition. For more insight into her work visit her website.