Well we've finally reached the end of our "building your brand" series of articles, this is the sixth and final instalment (7 if your technical about this). In this article I will look at the 10 things which will make your brand/company not just stand out from the crowd and competitors but also develop your unique selling point (usp). It may seem like a lame way to do these in a "top 10" fashion but that isn't how I'm treating these, these points are in no particular order and are all important to any brand, regardless of size (generally).
Increasing your selection of products and/or service is one simple way to stand out from the crowd. Another reason for a larger selection is that you are seen to be covering all areas of your market, the more you offer under one roof the less work clients need to do running around from business to business, plus maybe you can give them a discount for taking multiple services with you (remember how to improve customer loyalty) Consider: if you sell something (product or service) don't just offer them on your site, go to free advertising like gumtree and freeindex. If its a product try ebay or amazon.
Innovative Product / Service
If you have a new product with a patent covering it or a service that others don’t offer, you will have something that no one else can offer. Another reason for doing this kind of thing is that you show you are upto date and working towards the future in your market, you are a market leader. Consider: Patents can take sometime to occur, especially world rights, so apply in good time - remember you can go to manufacture with patent pending. Also make sure you tell potential clients you are the only brand selling the product and what makes this product/service so special.
Multi Use Products / Services
Once you have a service or product, think of how you can twist them to become useful for something else. Multi purpose products mean that the end user doesn't need to buy another product, they save money and are likely to come back to you. Consider: Aspirin has multiple uses including treating pain and preventing heart attacks - very useful. Mobile phones are now digital cameras too... what in your selection of products & services can you twist to help your end user.
Extreme Customer Service
Customer service can make or break a brand, ensuring your customers know you are eager to deliver the best service both through products and customer service implores the customer to trust you and your company & possibly recommend you. Going the extra mile can often make the difference between a sale or no sale, or between the customer return for repeat custom or not. Consider: If someone contacts you that you ensure you say thank you, ask them for feedback on your product or service (and say thank you for this), ensure you go the extra mile (sometimes literally like Dr's doing house visits). Maybe like myself you can send an automatic thank you to anyone enquiring using a form on our websites. - This point helps with customer loyalty too.
Convenience of Sale
Make your product or service be convenient to buy or use, it can make that last step to use a little easier. A great example of making a service convenient is Banking ATM's in supermarkets or shopping centres. If you offer a local service make the service more accessible by getting leaflets into local shops, show your support for these shops in return for a little help for your local shop. Consider: If you offer a service or product ensure you reach a wider audience by using the internet as a revenue stream
Confidence in Expertise
If you have expertise in a given field you should be using this to sell, and training others to sell for you. Sounds simple when I say it like that and it can be but the important thing is that you use the knowledge to a useful end with your customer. A great example is your best friend, the IT guy, you call him up and he can help you with many things from "why doesn't my printer work?" to "how do I install this?" to connectivity issues ... he shares his knowledge, but equally if he worked for an IT company he could use and exploit this knowledge as a selling tool to make a sale or to upsell - both valuable sales you wouldn't have otherwise. Consider: If you are the line manager or overall manager of a company, do your staff have ALL the knowledge they could in your field of speciality - if you work in clothing shop for "hip" teenagers, do your staff know about the latest trends and how people want to look?if not why not? Get them Trained. - Equally this can be said for any part of any business.
Consider Apple and Microsoft - Apple are highly priced, "executive toy"-like, amazing quality products (apparently ;) ) - whilst Microsoft are a lower priced common place machine for everyman and his dog, plus they are always in the new for viruses and stuff (it seems). Not getting the picture ? Ok well ... Consider: If you price high you convey quality for the higher end of the market, lower pricing will bring the thrifty peoples attention. This isn't always true though, if the whole market charges high prices for something - either they are all great quality or something is going on - great example of this is the Virgin Atlantic & British Airways price fixing scandal.
Longevity of a Product or Service
As I've mentioned before your primary selling tool should be based on time and emotion (see price advertising means fail here). But I feel the need to clear this up with a few examples from adverts those in the UK (maybe else where) will recognise. Using time to tug on the strings of emotion can mean selling at a high price easier because you are offering the little bit extra (seemingly for free!). Consider: Tyres - Michelin (amongst others) are always always going on in TV adverts about how much further the tyres they sell can go compared to "ordinary tyres" ... this is like Fairy Liquid saying 50% extra free on bottles in store and in adverts going further telling you in every advert for the past 5 years that "fairy liquid lasts longer" ... an interesting outcome to note is that on TV adverts saying xx% free doesn't appear to work for the UK market, however when instore or looking at posters in the street or banners on the internet xx% free does very well.
Offer a Guarantee
Offering some kind of promise is a fantastic way to either clinch a sale or implore trust in your company. Asda (Walmart UK for you americans ;) ) offer a money back guarantee "if you are not 100% satisfied" with their home-brand products, everything is covered from shampoo to cutlery to food goods - a great way to show you are quality in what you do. This week Asda have gone one step further (in some way) and have jumped on what is a common bandwagon in other industries (insurance mainly) and say if you can finx X cheaper in asda than another shop get the difference off your next shop. Consider: 99.99% of those who see your offer will never take it up, there may be one or two people who do but because you have grown trust and belief in your brand, products and services the sales generated from this will be far far more than the sales you would have recieved without - but be careful not to offer something you can't keep to. Broken promises can spread the world in seconds in this digital ages - as can bad news ... ask Gordon Brown.
Packaging for Market
Offer packaging options which make you stand above the rest. Supermarkets do this by offering a variety of long-life bags, plastic 5p ones, fabric 34p ones and more. The shape and designs change, size, brightness, environmental concerns and more all make a difference. The thing with packaging for supermakets like Asda, Tesco and Morrisons is that this is another way to raise revenue, but for the foremost they don't they claim they do it for the environment and so make no profit ... but this isn't the same for small businesses or sending out parcels. If this is you... Consider: Can you package using less material - saving money and space, Can you make the package childproof - this means if its a present or damageable good it won't get hurt, Can you make the packaging intuitive - Ribena juice cartons with a straw in the side, where as cheaper drinks have no attached straw (not user friendly), Can you offer free gift wrapping at a certain price, Can you brand your packaging so that even whilst in transit your brand is being seen.