Small/medium enterprises are often plagued by a lack of manpower and/or budget when it comes to the marketing department.
While the biggest brands in the world often have the biggest budgets, your SME can not only compete but flourish by making informed decisions, promoting great design, and concentrating on the channels proven to be most successful. Many SME’s have great ideas without the knowledge of technology or advertising techniques to use them effectively. Others have a large budget that is spent inefficiently, promotes an uninspiring creative effort, or executed poorly. So what are a few ways to improve SME branding?
1. Improve Your Website
Any enterprise or organization without a decent website needs to wake up and enter the 21st century at this point, especially if any significant portion of your customers are below retirement age. Above all, your website design and url need to be memorable and as close to the name of your business as possible (e.g. if laurascoffee.com is taken, try laurascoffeeshop.com) so that customers will recognize it. Use your website to advertise deals, provide updates, track memberships and generally add some personality to your business.
2. Community Advantage
As an SME, you likely have an advantage your larger competitors don’t: you’re closer to your customers. You don’t necessarily need to use sophisticated data analytics to go after them because you can actually understand the community. So use that! If you’re running a brick-and-mortar store, keep an ear out for community events and get involved whenever you can. This could be donating a prize for a community raffle, having a presence at community events such as parades, or having staff volunteer at local events once a month – whatever it takes to make sure customers feel like you form a vital part of the community. Community brands get loyal customers.
3. Build Local Confidence
If you want to show customers why you deserve their business, why not prove it with numbers? It doesn’t take sophisticated software to track simple stuff like the number of customers served, ratings and positive testimonials received, hours of community service done, and displaying all this evidence prominently can create trust and confidence in your company more than a vague slogan ever could. You can see this in action with many transport services, which publicize their reliability and punctuality percentages each year. A brand based on proven trustworthiness is going places.
4. Social Media
Social media seems almost inescapable at this point, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Company Twitter and Facebook accounts will be much more successful if they have some personality so that people actually want to follow them. Avoid canned responses – make sure whoever is tweeting on your company’s behalf sounds human. You can increase your company’s visibility via Facebook competitions, content marketing or targeted Facebook and Twitter advertising.
For a great example of targeted content marketing, look at KFC Ireland’s “Sorry, not Sorry” ad for their O’ Sanders burger. This was distributed on Facebook and attracted organic sharing because most of the video was genuinely funny for Irish viewers, like an American apologizing for spelling St. Paddy’s Day as St. Patty’s Day, with the product only appearing at the end. Sure, KFC isn’t an SME, but it’s a valuable lesson.
Continuity is absolutely crucial to successful branding. Customers need to know they’re with you as opposed to similar enterprises, and the way to do that is through good experience design. To use the coffee shop example, think about the whole experience from the moment your storefront comes into view to the moment the customer leaves. What’s the store’s color theme? What are the cups like? From where do customers get straws and spoons? All of this and more has to be accounted for, and for a memorable brand it should be unique and continuous – everything should feel part of the same seamless experience.
Looking for more ways to improve SEM branding? Visit our Brand page for ways we can help.