I have been focusing a lot over the last several months on how to create an in-demand brand for your business. Most importantly, I have been focusing on not only how to create it, but why it’s so important for the success of your business. Now more than ever, it is essential to be able to break through the noise of a crowded marketplace in which buying patterns have changed. It is not that people are not buying goods or services, they are simply being more careful about what they are buying.
In this type of constricting economy, it is essential to create a situation where you are immediately recognizable to your ideal client. Your client should know what you do, how you can help them, and what they can actually expect from working with you. All of the pieces of your marketing must come together in a cohesive way that creates predictability for your ideal client so that their decision to work with you is less risky to them. Your overall brand should let people feel confident that their decision to work with you is the right, safe, good decision that they want it to be.
How to Create a Predictable Experience for Your Client
I always start with this question as my litmus test for your brand: how do you want people to feel? I ask that question across everything that I am doing, whether it is my logo, my website, the language that I use in all of my written materials, the language that I use in my podcast, my live show, when networking, and when speaking to a group. No matter how they learn about my business, or where they are in the client journey, I want them to feel confident, empowered, and ready to achieve the life and business they dream of creating.
A great example of creating a predictable experience is the car industry. If we compare Jaguar to Jeep, you can see the differences in each brand across all of the pieces of their marketing. Even though the Jaguar F-Pace and the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4XE start at the same overall base price, everything about the Jaguar brand indicates luxury, while Jeep focuses on enjoying the outdoors. Jaguar calls their service program and warranty their Elitecare, while Jeep has a community of outdoor enthusiasts and an annual off-road Jamboree. You feel different when browsing their websites, when watching their commercials, and reading their slogans.
When you apply this to your business, it is important to ensure that everything in your business aligns with how you want people to feel. From your logos, to your visuals, the language that you use in your written content, all the way to the way that you speak, everything should evoke the same feeling in your audience. However, your branding does not stop with all of those pieces.
How do you deliver your services?
The way that you deliver your services to clients is extremely important to your brand and how people feel about working with you. A perfect example of this comes from the coaching world.
Many of us offer retreats as part of our business. Continuing the idea of a luxury brand versus a natural, outdoorsy brand, a coach could review the same exact content at their retreat, with the same teaching points, but have a completely different feel to them depending on the location. If one coach hosted their retreat at a luxury hotel and the other coach offered their retreat at an outdoorsy, glamping-style location, the feel of being at the retreat would be much different.
How available are you to clients?
Another factor that affects your brand is your availability or your access. How available are you to clients? Are you available seasonally, or all year round? Is there a waiting list to join your programs? Do your clients work directly with you, or with your team? If you are a coach or consultant, do you only take on new clients during launches of new programs, or do you onboard clients all year round?
In many service based businesses, the Founder/CEO are at the top of the pyramid, and to work directly with that person has a different level of accessibility than working with other people in the company.
This is all part of your brand. If you are the only person that any of your clients work with, it has a different brand awareness to it than if you are running the company and your clients work with your team. Additionally, if there are several people within the company, you talk about your services differently. Instead of “I” do this, it becomes “we” do this, which is part of your branding.
What quality products/services do you offer?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I always, always, always want you to do the best job that you can do for your clients at the level that you are at and at the level that they are at. But perceived quality is part of a brand.
Grocery stores are a great example. Think about the experience of going to Whole Foods versus Aldi. Whole Foods is known for having organic, healthy options, with the nickname “whole paycheck” because of the perception that they have good quality, high-priced items. And even though Aldi actually has a decent selection of organic, healthy options, they are known for being a value-priced store with low prices. This perception does not make one bad and one good. It is just a different feeling to their brand.
Think about the expectation you have when you walk in the door of Walmart versus Bloomindale’s. You can buy a plain t-shirt at both stores, but they are going to have a much different quality. And again, that does not make one bad and one good. It does not make one right or one wrong.
Businesses can run into problems attracting their ideal client if they are portraying themselves as a luxury brand but offering a lower quality product or service. That inconsistency creates confusion and even mistrust. Just like in our examples above, whether you offer a luxury experience, a budget experience, or something in the middle, it does not make you right or wrong. It simply makes it important to ensure that the quality of your product or services comes through in how you make people feel, whether you want them to feel as though your experience is luxurious and exclusive or budget conscious and easy to afford.
What do you charge for your products/services?
Your pricing is an integral part of your brand, especially in a service based business. Your pricing is your declaration of worth to the marketplace. I have zero problems with someone who intentionally chooses to be a low cost leader in their industry if your business model supports it. That is a very big difference between offering a low price because you don’t think you deserve to charge more because you are driven by fear or stories that you are not worth it.
Your price is part of your brand, and if you portray a high-level brand but charge a low price, people will think that something is off. If your visuals, your messaging, and your promise statement are at a high level but then you charge too little for your industry, your prospective client will think that something is wrong. People understand what certain things cost.
If you are marketing at a lower quality level, and charging low prices, but trying to deliver a luxury brand, you are going to run into a cash flow problem. You won’t be able to consistently deliver what you are trying to deliver if your pricing is not in alignment with what you are selling. If you offer a high-quality deliverable, make sure you do it at the price point that your clients expect based on everything else in your brand.
Consistency is Key to A Cohesive Brand
All of these things go together to create your brand, and to influence how you make people feel when they interact with you and when they work with you. Consistency is more important than ever because business is a little hard right now. When you are consistent across all of the pieces of your brand, your prospective client develops a higher level of trust as they decide if they want to work with you.
Your brand comes down to how you want people to feel, and you have to make sure that feeling flows through all of your marketing, as well as how you deliver your services, the availability of access to you, the price that you charge, and the quality that you deliver.
Creating an effective market positioning strategy is what it takes to do business right now. And the great news is if you get this all in alignment while business is a little harder, when everything opens up again (which it will), you will be poised to leap that much further, that much faster.