by Kevin Stimpson, international speaker and CEO of Strive & Grind
To grow your brand organically, you have to literally plant your seeds, nurture them, and watch the seeds grow. Your goal should be to create something that people are loyal to. However, many entrepreneurs struggle to have customers buy over and over again. Why? It’s because they aren’t building a brand. Instead, they focus most of their time generating leads and driving traffic to average products and services.
But of course, people don’t want average products and services. They want the best products and services. And, they want to be treated like your business actually cares.
Here are 5 steps to help you get there:
1. Create great products and services.
You will instantly stand out from a cluttered marketplace when you have a great product. It’s not enough to be better, or comparable. You need to strive day in and day out to be the best or only company your customer decides to do business with. That means continuous improvement. Don’t be the entrepreneur that just wants to make sales off an average product. Be the entrepreneur who wants to crush sales because you have the best product that your customers can’t live without. Always push the envelope and think ahead. Do your research in the marketplace and create something of true value and quality.
For example, if you own a web design agency, be sure to create the best damn websites on the block so that people recognize you for being the best. And in order to do this you have to make sure you have the best damn team working for you. Lead with great products and services. If you lack innovation, you’ll become reactive instead of proactive. Once you become reactive, you become a follower and not a leader.
2. Focus on your customer experiences.
Branding is about what your customers and clients say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s about how you make them feel. Want to build brand loyalty and have your customer coming back for more? Want to have customers raving about you to their friends and family? Create mind blowing customer experiences. Regardless of the type of business you’re in, you must identify how you’d like your customer experiences to be before, during, and after your customer buys from you.
For example, if you’re a photographer, before you take the first photo, you provide your client with all the details and a shot list so that they feel comfortable and ready for their shoot. During the shoot, you may play their favorite music and provide water and snacks. And after the shoot, you deliver their photos not only digitally, but in a dope aluminum album with a gift card to their favorite restaurant attached. Remember, all it takes is for one bad customer experience to derail the perception of your company. That bad experience can influence one person to tell 10 people about it, which could prevent those 10 people from buying from you. Those 10 people could go ahead and tell another 10 people about their experience, and why they won’t buy from you and the cycle goes on and on. (Cough: YELP REVIEWS: Cough)
You owe it to your customers to take care of them, because without them, you would probably be working for someone else. With that said, this care of your customers is one more extension of your brand – so don’t ignore it!
3. Ask for referrals.
You’re leaving a lot of money on the table by not asking for a referral. If your customers know that you have great products and services and that you have amazing customer experiences, why wouldn’t they want to refer a friend, colleague, or family member to you? Strive & Grind wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for referrals. About 95% of our business is word of mouth.
One way to do this is to simply ask your client or customer if they know anyone who needs your services or would love your product. You can even provide an incentive and offer a referral fee or discount off their next purchase. You’d be surprised what may come out of just asking.
4. Have a strong and consistent message.
People like getting behind strong causes and messages – something they can believe in and become a part of. The clearer your message, the easier it is to communicate. If your prospects and customers don’t understand what you do and how you can solve their problems, you’re going to lose them. Period. Get clear on who you are, what you’re about, and how you help your customers. Capture what you stand for and what you stand against. Tap into what pisses you off about your industry, and how you’re going to disrupt it.
Once you get clear on those few things, invest all of your efforts on improving the effectiveness of how you communicate your message. Then use that clarity to always guide you as you grow into a badass brand.
5. Collaborate and partner with game changers, thought leaders and influencers.
Branding by association will elevate your business to new heights. The biggest brands in the world partner with the top influencers in the world. For example, Nike is one of the most reputable companies in the world because they are endorsed by the best athletes in the world. They literally blew up, the moment they worked with Michael Jordan, and created their first pair of “Jordan’s” sneakers. Leverage this same strategy for your business. It’s an easier way for you to tap into different and larger markets that you wouldn’t have tapped into if you didn’t collaborate. Plus I can personally vouch for the consistent motivation and accountability that results from playing with the big dogs (and becoming one yourself)!
So you may be thinking, “How can I connect with an influencer?” It’s simple. Reach out to them or their assistant via email or Facebook message and communicate the value you can bring to them (without sounding like all you want to do is take something from them). Have your game plan ready and share your idea on how a partnership with you will be beneficial to them and the growth of their business .
If you don’t put intention on building your brand organically, you’re missing out on one of the biggest secrets to building loyalty. When your customers are loyal to you, and only you, your competitors become irrelevant.
Kevin Stimpson, international speaker & CEO of Strive & Grind, an international branding agency that specializes in creating premium brands for today’s top experts, thought leaders, and influencers that reach millions of people around the world.