There are many elements that together make up a strong brand, including a mission, vision, personality and values. Taking the time to define these elements as part of creating a brand strategy is a very worthwhile, albeit often time consuming endeavor. It’s not uncommon for a company to enter the marketplace without creating a brand strategy. There are people in business for decades who’ve never formally created a brand strategy. There is the question however of what if they had?
Whether you have time to toil over your mission statement or not, there are several elements of your brand that are especially important to understand and that are the foundation of all of your marketing materials. They are: target audience, positioning, goals and benefits.
Knowing your target market is the single most important aspect to a strong brand strategy. If you don’t know your target market, intimately and specifically, all of your marketing materials will be shooting in the dark. Not knowing your audience is a common marketing mistake that many small business owners make for various reasons including being afraid of excluding possible potential customers. There are a few things to understand about identifying a target audience:
- Target audience is about targeting who is most likely to buy, not everyone who could feasibly buy from you.
- Target audience is about identifying your ideal customer, not your average customer.
- As the marketing idiom goes, when you try to reach everyone, you reach no one. Trying to include everyone in your target audience leads to watered down marketing messages that don’t land with anyone.
In identifying your audience, you want to know the key demographics, i.e. male/female, age, education, household income, geographic location, profession, marital status. You also want to understand the psychographics: attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria. Also you want to know where they are and how you will best reach them.
Understanding the benefits of your service or product is also key to business success. Benefits are distinct from features. The difference between features and benefits is important for any business owner to understand. Example, a yoga studio offers one-on-one classes. The one-on-one class is a feature of that yoga studio. The benefit is what comes from that feature, such as individual attention leading one to get more out of each class. Getting more out of each class would be the benefit. You want to “sell” the benefit, as that will resonate most with potential clients. When considering a product or service people want to know what’s in it for them. To get clear on how your service or product benefits your audience create a list of three to five main benefits your brand offers, do this from a customer’s pint of view. Start by writing down five to seven features of your business, and then a benefit of each. This can take some time, but is worth the work.
Know the essence of how your business is different from others in the same space. Your positioning statement is an internal document that guides you in knowing how you are different from the competition. Ask yourself how are you unlike others in your field in your market. A good format for your positioning statement is: “For [customers], [product name] is the [product type] that [top benefit]. Unlike [competitor], [product name] [differentiator]. Since this is an internal document, you don’t have to worry about how well it reads, you need to focus on the concept of it, and understanding yourself how you are different from your competition.
Finally, goals are at the center of any marketing initiative. Goals give your marketing activities direction; without them you are merely accepting what is handed to you rather than driving your business toward a destination that is important to you. As part of understanding your brand strategy, take the time to identify three business goals that will remain at the center of your marketing activities. Be sure to use the SMART goal setting method.
Understanding your target audience, benefits, positioning and goals is paramount to marketing and selling your services or products. While understanding and defining these brand elements will take you some time, doing so will give your business and marketing the strategic direction that successful brands have. You can also take a look at your brand’s vision, mission, values and personality to round out your brand strategy.
Post by Rebekah Meola