The products your company sells might be state-of-the-art or they might be old fashioned, but all businesses have something in common: the need to stand out from competitors. Your business might be the only one of its kind, but there's going to be someone out there looking to compete with you.
The dedication and time you spend building your company's clientele and reputation is one of the most difficult parts of taking an innovative product or service to the public, but you've got several opportunities to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Even if you don't feel like an artistic businessperson, there are ways to bring your company's story to the public with creative projects.
Remember: even if you're doing everything "right," you can't do everything that's expected by customers. If a customer sees two products on the shelf with all the "right" branding decisions taken, he or she is probably going to base their purchase on price, rather than on how he or she feels about your company.
Here are some straightforward, yet incredibly effective methods of boosting your company's visibility, branding, and strength of public opinion against your business competitors.
1. Shopping bag branding
It's no joke that some companies create bags that are so memorable that it doesn't even matter what's inside the bag when someone walks out of the store. Everyone knows the company's name simply from the bag its customers carry when they emerge.
While it might be a stretch of the imagination to believe you could create a bag design as memorable as the signature blue bags designed by Tiffany & Co., there's no telling how valuable a truly memorable bag design could become for your company. Designers at Tiffany & Co. certainly didn't realize how iconic those bags and white ribbons would become.
Also, remember that you can go so much further than a standard logo on a shopping bag. An interesting article from "The New York Times" on packaging for fashion houses says:
Too often in the fashion arena, branding is restricted to a logo or the clothes. But in order to be most successful, branding needs to be a central idea for a label.
It's not just a plastic bag with some text that reads, "Bill's Big Boot Barn" on the side. It's a brown bag with a giant boot and a cleverly scripted "B" that tells everyone that bag is from Bill's Big Boot Barn.
2. Rebrand your brand
When a billion-dollar company changes their logo and effectively updates their brand, it's a major decision and likely surrounded by months of focus group testing, the work of multiple artists, and a campaign prepared so as to create an event out of the company's new look.
You don't need months of focus groups and a floor full of digital artists to create your brand. Perhaps your company doesn't even have a true logo or brand yet. However, status as a small or medium sized company doesn't exempt your company from getting a professionally crafted logo created. Taking a few hours to whip up something in MS Paint with a few catchy fonts is the best way to have the public perceive your company as small and unimportant.
Business Insider suggests a graphic designer can:
Enter the freelance graphic designer, who can transform your company's product, message, and mantra into one cohesive visual design that will, hopefully, make you more memorable and appealing to your audience.
3. Think "industry" instead of "product"
You have an amazing product to sell, and you want everyone to know about it. Telling everyone you have something terrific to sell is the traditional way to get the ball rolling with marketing, but it won't go far enough if you're competing against a crowd.
Instead, think of the bigger picture – as in the entire industry in which you sell your product or service. Think in terms of "industry leader" rather than "product leader." You want to angle your advertisements and promotions around doing everything you can to help your customers.
Maybe your company sells organic cough drops and cough suppressants. You want to create a company presence where customers feel they can come to your business for advice and help when they're not feeling well – not simply when they have a cough.
The "Globe and Mail" calls this process problem-solving:
Take what you do and decide on two or three core problems that you solve for the marketplace. Not only will this speak to the market’s pain points but it will focus your messaging as well.
4. Go for the niche
On the other side of the equation regarding industry-wide ideas, is the niche approach and whether your product may fill a void somewhere.
The main focus of your company might be to create a product that anyone can use; however, if you make some "tweaks" based upon what people can't find when they shop for products like yours, you'll have a built-in audience.
"USA Today" recommends angling your products to make them appealing to the "well-to-do."
Over and over again, the companies that are getting funding are serving upper-income people.
5. Jump into events
If you're a billion-dollar company and you want people to remember your company, what do you do? You buy a space on the side of a stadium, of course. However, this strategy is a little out-of-reach for the average "mom & pop" business sitting on Main Street in Small Town, USA.
But lack of a marketing budget worth millions doesn't mean that you can't benefit from local events where your name will sit front-and-center in front of new and potential customers. First, consider what type of events your customers might enjoy.
If you own a bicycle repair shop, perhaps sponsorship of a local triathlon would get some new eyes on your services. Maybe you're in the business of building delicious cakes. Donate a cake to a local charity event.
Go Further: Speak to or contact a local reporter about writing a piece on the event and your sponsorship. The story will give the newspaper (or any publication) some content, it'll boost the event's visibility, and it will thrust your company's brand into the news.
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