After reading my previous posts, you’re almost on your way to productively and energetically leveraging your brand’s perception to drive company growth and profitability. Our previous topics of focus covered the specific impact that brand perception can have on the bottom line, the need for clear positioning as the foundation for communicating about your company, and some keys to arming others with that positioning so they can get your story into the market.
Now, I’ll review the most important tips on what it takes to get your positioning to stick – to successfully change brand perception to accelerate growth and profitability.
Changing what people think of your brand is not complicated, but it’s not easy either. It requires a certain level of rigor and discipline by the company and management team to be successful. As I’ve discussed earlier, the rewards can be well worth the effort.
In a perfect world you can simply advertise everywhere, all the time to get your brand messaging into the market. Obviously most small to mid-sized businesses don’t have the resources to do this, so a smarter approach is required.
Be pervasive, consistent and persistent.
Since you’ve gone through the hard work of defining your company brand, positioning and messaging, make sure that you leverage it is effectively as possible:
- Be pervasive- First make sure your positioning and related messaging is reflected across all your customer and market touch-points – your website, social media presence, product literature, sales scripts, customer service materials, internal office signage, business partner websites - everywhere you have company descriptions and messaging.
Don’t underestimate the effort (and potential cost) required to replace any old messaging. Strive to do it in a timely manner, but you will likely need to phase things into high priority and lower priority items.
- Be consistent– Wherever you have key messaging or communications, make sure that the key components of your value and differentiation come through. You don’t need to take a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach – but be careful not to start modifying messaging ‘on the fly’. This can result in dilution and confusion to your customers, employers and business partners.
This is especially true in somewhat decentralized companies or where managers are given a high level of autonomy.
- Be persistent- You should also stay the course over time and resist the temptation to come up with new ‘reactive’ positioning prematurely or without proper market insights. It takes time for positioning to ‘stick’. If you’ve gathered insights and done the right work up front, the positioning will resonate. Patience truly is a virtue in this case.
Measure your progress and adjust
As the saying goes, “If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. This holds true for brand perception. Larger companies will often invest in annual brand awareness and perception benchmarking research. Since this is too expensive for most small to mid-sized businesses, there are other creative ways to monitor your brand perception.
- Survey your customers– as part of regular customer satisfaction feedback, you can include carefully crafted questions to determine how customers perceive the company. This can be done annually as well as key milestones in the relationship.
- Set up Google Alerts– this is simple way to automatically monitor the web for any mentions of your company or its products.
- Monitor online review sites– product review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, G2 Crowd and Software Advice are growing in popularity and are well worth tracking. You can often offer a company response for any negative reviews, as well as thanking those for a positive review.
- Monitor industry influencer coverage– for many industries there are industry analysts or experts that track and report on companies in that space. Keep an eye on what they’re saying about your company.
- Conduct social media listening– you can also invest in simple tools to monitor social media in a more holistic way to glean how your brand is being perceived. Paying to do this typically makes sense for B2C companies, but also B2B companies that are targeting large numbers of small businesses.
By measuring the impact on your efforts, you can adjust accordingly. You may need to gather further market insights to make small changes to your positioning approach. At a minimum, you should review annually to see if any major adjustments are required.
Of course, the ultimate measure of success is the impact on growth and profitability. It’s a good idea to baseline the following measures and track improvement over time as you implement various brand improvement strategies:
- Sales win rates
- Cost of sales
- Average sales per rep
- Average deal margin
- Lead conversion
- Sales funnel velocity
- Employee retention
Even though your customer has more choices in your market than ever, the right positioning strategy will help you differentiate your products and services from the competition, build trust among your base, and increase the chances that those outside your executive team will talk about your brand favorably. Without communicating your authentic brand identity, your target audience will never become interested in why doing business with you will matter to their success and vision.
Refer to the process I’ve outlined in this series of posts for changing your brand’s perception at any time, adjusting your current strategy as necessary. With a commitment to your message, delivery, and consistency, you’ll positively impact your business growth over the short and long-term while accelerating your organization’s profitability.