business owner

What’s the Difference in Selling Your Product or Your Brand?

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 12.02.57 PMAs a business owner, you probably hear about the importance of branding all the time. However, I’ve seen many small business owners confuse selling their product with selling their brand. You already thoroughly understand your product, but since 30% of Canadians base their purchasing decisions on their trust in certain brands, it’s essential to note the differences between the two.

When businesses come to me wanting a better ROI on their lead generation, I often find the issue is not with their product, but with understanding the difference between their product and their brand. If we push one without the other, the results can be sales stagnation. Products and branding should go hand in hand. To do this, you’ll need to understand how they are different. I’ve outlined below what I feel are the differences between products and branding and why these differences are significant.

Product

Your products are specifically the objects or services you provide to customers in exchange for payment. They fulfill your customers’ needs. There are likely many competing businesses that offer the same or similar products that would also adequately fulfill their needs, so it’s your job to convince your target market that your products are the best. That’s where your brand plays a key part!

Brand

Your brand is how your target market perceives you. When they think about your business, what words come to mind? If your customer surveys and reviews are coming back with negative descriptors like “slow”, “unavailable”, or “no follow-up”, it might be time to rethink your brand. The goal is for your brand to resonate with your customers.

Your product may fulfill your customers’ needs, but your brand fulfills your customers’ wants. When you and a competitor have similar pricing and quality, the business with the better branding comes out on top; it determines which business they want to purchase from.

Your brand is your promise to your customer. Your brand clearly differentiates your company from your competition, so your audience will not only understand who you are but also clearly identify your value and the benefits of buying your product. Strong branding equals increased business results. Believe it or not, businesses have just as much personality as people.

A short and simple way to remember the difference between your product and your brand is this: You sell your product, but your brand sells you.

For award-winning help with your branding and help determining your brand’s personality and the direction it should take, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today!

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What Should I Be Getting From My Marketing Expert?

 No matter what realm – fie-marketingnancial, legal, health or business – we rely on experts to provide us with answers that we otherwise couldn’t come up with on our own.

Marketing is the one thing all business owners know they must invest in to be more successful. In fact, this is why most CEOs hire internal expertise through their marketing staff, externally via a marketing agency, or do a combination of both to ensure they are getting the knowledge, insights, guidance and solutions to help them achieve their marketing and sales goals.

Whether your expert is internal or external or a hybrid, you’ll want to make sure your “experts” are taking care of your marketing to ensure you meet your objectives and goals. I have outlined below a few tasks you’ll want to make sure your experts provide you with:

  • They have created a strategic marketing plan based on your business goals and reaching specific objectives you have outlined for your business (this may include increasing revenues from a target audience, introducing a new service or product, increasing sales by a certain percentage, etc.)
  • The strategy clearly identifies your audience, your brand, messaging, your revenue streams, approaches for implementation, and measurement approaches
  • They have created a detailed marketing plan, with determined messaging, what area your marketing team is going to focus on, what objectives they are hoping to achieve, what marketing mix they are going to use, the number of campaigns, and what the projected ROI will be for each
  • They have created a detailed tactical plan to execute and implement the marketing strategy including clearly identifying individuals, roles, timelines, outcomes, ROI
  • They have outlined documents for each campaign to identify who will monitor results, tweak as necessary, and ensure that your company gets the best results from their marketing efforts
  • They have included you as part of the process (if appropriate) prior to, during and upon completion of every campaign. This could be a quick meeting with your team, a call, or an email.

As a CEO or CMO, your team needs to be able to not only think creatively but analytically. They must be able to not only be creative, but to be able to gain results from that creativity.

This is your business, so make sure you really have the right team at the table to help you achieve your business results and growth. Your relationship with your marketing advisor(s) should leave you always feeling secure in their expertise so that you can focus on running your business. Trust that they only have your best interest in mind and that your success is their success.

Holidays, Giving, and Brand Building

philanthropy-charity-donate

Much like celebrities, your business is in the public eye, even if it’s a B2B business, so you probably receive requests for donations, and solicitations for sponsorships all the time.

How do you make the decision whether or not to respond to all of them? Do you cherry pick a few organizations to help, or go with your personal bias and choose a charity close to your heart, or do you choose based on what is right for your brand / business? Depending on your answer, you approach could cause you to miss out on opportunities to strengthen your brand through charitable efforts.

Compared to yesterday’s customer, today’s customer is much savvier and expects more from your company. Today, they have greater access to company information, so it’s pretty transparent when a business does a few good things to boost their reputation, versus a business that has put all their charitable efforts and resources into making a real impact on society.

As a business owner myself, I recommend shifting your business’s approach from obligation (something you feel your company should do) to opportunity (something your company might want to do).

To decide whether or not you should make that donation on behalf of your company, think about the following things first:

  1. Does this organization have relevance in your industry?

Support issues and platforms relevant to your industry. If you are part of the food industry, try getting involved with a charity that promotes healthy eating habits, provides meals… etc.

  1. Does this organization have community relevance?

Your customers are your community. Ask yourself, would your customers be on board with your charity of choice?

  1. Is this organization relevant to your target market?

By supporting causes your target market cares about, you gain their attention, respect and trust (something businesses can spend years and big money building). Align yourself with what appeals to your target.

  1. Does this organization have brand relevance?

By having your charitable efforts feed into your brand identity and positioning you will reinforce your brand message, and differentiate yourself.

To support an organization is a strategic decision, and if selected carefully, it won’t dilute your brand’s core values. If anything, selecting an appropriate charity communicates your goals and ideals more clearly to your target customers and partners.

Also, don’t forget – as much as donating to or sponsoring a charity is beneficial to your brand, it also just feels good to give.

Is your business involved with a charity? If so, why did you pick that charity? What was your approach, and what do you hope to gain (if anything) by involving yourself with that organization? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section!