March 2, 2013
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One common misconception among entrepreneurs and small business owners is that you have to throw money to the wind in order to build a respected, recognizable and popular brand. However, if you decide to approach branding in a thrifty, technologically savvy, and notoriously crafty way you can make tremendous investments unnecessary.
Consider this: Your ideal customer interacts with your brand in many ways, often referred to as touchpoints. Touchpoints can include everything from your company’s website to customer service, packaging design and sales interactions.
As a creative small business owner, finding original ways to make these brand experiences memorable for customers can be fun and easy on your bank account.
To get started, first step outside of your role as an entrepreneur and leap into the role of your customer. Create a small list of the last five to ten items you purchased, why you purchased them, and what you enjoyed about your experience. Was it a well-crafted and unique Pinterest board that led you to purchase the silk pillows on Etsy? Did the nutritionist you contacted answer your email personally and offer a 20% discount on your first purchase? Take these learnings and apply them to your branding efforts.
Remember: Branding is a consistent commitment to creating memorable details that can easily make customers fall in love with your products and services. So, if you are looking to improve your overall brand here are five low-cost and free ideas to get started.
1. Throw a party.
I know you are already flinching. But listen carefully. Grab a few bottles of champagne, some chocolate and horderves then invite your entire email list to your retail shop for a trunk show (or partner up with a local gallery, sports bar, retail boutique, etc. if you run an online business and bring your products to the event).
An intimate gathering that brings customers together in a fun and relaxed environment can potentially work wonders for your business in the short and long-term. I attended an event like this recently; honestly for the drinks, but left with two bags full of merchandise.
You can also throw a social media party via Twitter by making use of hashtags and centering the online gathering around a fun theme. For example, you can let your fans gain VIP access to you via Google+ Hangouts to answer their most pressing questions, etc. These types of online events can work amazingly well if you are a stylist (host a red carpet party and offer wardrobe tips), a photographer (host a live tutorial) or even a business coach. The options are endless and the memories will be priceless.
2. Create your own group.
Whether it is volunteering or a hosting a local meetup using Meetup.com, you can and should encourage face-to-face engagement. Not only can you provide value to local meetup attendees but you can share marketing materials to connect with potential customers who pick up on your expertise.
For example, if you are an artist or photographer, why not start an art gallery tour group. Are you a budding chef or baker? If so, start a local supper club.
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