How to create an effective brand strategy?

Let’s be honest, unless you’re the well-known incumbent in your industry, you’re not even starting the selling process in neutral territory, but rather you’re starting behind, in negative territory. Even though you’re likely an ethical operator, your prospects are cynical and don’t trust you. Unfortunately, it’s a case of guilty until proven innocent, and you have to work your way from negative to positive territory and win their trust before a sale can be made. In fact, one of the main reasons marketing campaigns fail is because offers are lazy and poorly thought out. They rarely go beyond a % discount. Don’t expect sales to happen just because you exist. Hope is not a strategy. That is just positioning yourself as a commodity, a “me too” type of business. Do you want to be a “me too” type of business that merely competes on pricing and slowly gets squeezed into oblivion through smaller and smaller profit margins? Of course not! That is why your brand strategy is the most important strategy for your business.

So what is a brand strategy?

Your brand strategy is the beating heart of your business. It translates your products, services, and value hypothesis into simple and clear communications. Your brand strategy tells the story of how your business helps customers solve their problems, satisfy their needs, and/or resolve their pain points. And it does so in a way that effectively grabs their attention, builds trust, and makes you stand out from the competition. It builds trust and reinforces the promise of who you are and what you stand for, as well as what unique and meaningful benefits you deliver. A brand is more than just a logo. It is a promise that can build trust and drive sales. It’s your company’s engine. An engine that drives sales and builds equity. And as much as we wish it were the case, your brand is not what you say it is; it is what your customers believe it to be, both consciously and subconsciously– It is what they experience. For an effective brand strategy, it is not enough to just look good; you also have to elicit the right emotional responses and create cohesive, consistent, timeless, and memorable experiences across all your customer touchpoints. Done correctly, your brand will help you weather the storm, stand out from the competition, and keep them coming back.

So how do you create an effective brand strategy?

Start by answering the following: Where does the brand see opportunity? Are there additional opportunities for the brand? Who are your customers? And what are their wants and needs? Why should they buy from you rather than from your nearest competitor? What unique value propositions does the brand provide to solve the customers’ wants and needs? What does your target market want/need? Putting the right stuff in front of the wrong people or the wrong stuff in front of the right people is one of the first marketing mistakes made by business owners. What is my target market really buying? For example, people don’t really buy insurance; they buy peace of mind. What’s the biggest benefit to lead with? Be the problem solver and pain reliever. People are much more willing to pay for a cure than prevention. Targeting existing pain rather than promising future pleasure will result in much higher conversion, high satisfaction, and lower price resistance. What are the best emotionally charged words and phrases that will capture and hold the attention of this market? Remember, surveys are done with logic, but purchases are done with emotions and justified with logic after the fact—five great motivating feelings for buying behavior fear, love, greed, guilt, pride. Fear, especially fear of loss, is one of the most potent emotional hot buttons. What objections do my prospects have, and how will I solve them? What outrageous offer (including a guarantee) can I make? Is there an intriguing story I can tell? Who else is selling something similar to my product or service, and how? Who else has tried selling this target market something similar, and how has that effort failed? From this clarity, your brand strategy can be distilled into your unique selling proposition, then taken a step further to create your “Elevator Pitch.” A single-breath, concise, and persuasive sales pitch that anyone in the organization can easily remember and share, to quickly and effectively let people know the value your brand delivers – the why. Always keep in mind, people have too many options and too much information always coming at them, and they are rarely motivated to wade through a confusing message. If you confuse them, you lose them. There are only three options people will take if you try and sell them: buy from you; buy from the competition; do nothing. So if you do not have the clarity to answer all the above, your customers won’t either, and they won’t spend the time trying to figure it out. And you will lose sale after sale. You get one chance to make a great first impression. So create the right brand strategy now and stand out as well as stand for something so that the customers chose you.

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