We know it takes time to building a desirable brand but have you ever wondered how a business builds the recognition to become the most influential within their industry that everyone wants to work with?
We call this brand leadership.
To successfully develop a recognisable level of brand leadership it takes a marketing strategy with a number of elements all cross channeling each other – offline and online. Here is a list of the 7 areas that need to be considered when developing an overall brand authority marketing strategy.
1. Professional Appearance
Depending who your targeted buyer is will determine how you ‘dress yourself’. If you want clients that hang out in golf clubs rather than the local pub then not only is it a no brainer that you dress appropriately to be taken seriously – so does your business brand.
It doesn’t have to cost the earth either – it just needs to look good across all channels; and not just the obvious office front or website. Every element of communication is marketing your brand to your current clients, who may refer your business to potential friends, or people you are meeting for the first time. So make sure your brand appears professional across ALL channels. Your business card, invoicing letterhead, email signature….
An industry leader stands out from the crowd so consider what makes you unique. It is never going to be your service or product list – anyone can offer that, so don’t go there. If you go a step deeper you will find your uniqueness to market – the answers to “Why your service, why your product?” The answer is because it is YOU, your staff – your experience, your trust, your reputation.
To build a credible reputation you need people to be aware of you. This can be done in 2 ways – through promoting yourself or others promoting you. Most businesses choose to pay for sponsorships, associations and advertising (print and/or digital) to keep their brand under the nose of their target customer because it is ‘time-effective’. But unless the business has bothered to build an organic word of mouth reputation as an industry authority, this can be an expensive ongoing method because when you stop paying, so does the brand awareness.
For a brand to develop and maintain real industry authority they need to be referred to for their opinions, case studies and advice within their business networks and industry. Whether it is local or global authority, these are the business leaders we all turn to listen to or compare ourselves to.
This is where showcasing the unique experience and talent within your business can be used to market you uniqueness. Sharing within industry publications your client case studies, entering recognised industry awards, contributing helpful articles and offering to support relevant community projects with your expertise are all very effective ways to building a word of mouth reputation and authority.
There is no denying we are in a world where people expect information in the ‘here and now’. A recognised business brand becomes ‘the reliable source’ for this information, we have all heard “Go to XXX Facebook Page, they’ll know how to sort that out”. Creating a routine or setting up a system to check trends within your industry, or the news on social media isn’t hard, and should be a part of any industry leaders social media content management strategy to share relevant news.
Not only is it important to be a reliable source of information but also be responsive to enquiries. When a buyer is ready it is usually that they have a problem that needs fixing – often urgently. Business trades like plumbers and electricians understand this very well.
Even though we are not expected to respond the second we receive an enquiry, software and marketing channels like Facebook, have made it easier to create simple automatic responses to ensure potential customers are not left hanging or messaging your competitors instead because you didn’t even acknowledge the message.
It is a 24/7 accessible world we live in and if your business truly is the authority then you should be able to handle an automated response such as ‘ ‘Thanks for your enquiry, our office hours are XXX and we typically reply to your message within 24hrs. If it is urgent our office number is: XXX”
A key reason behind businesses building brand influence to a level of industry leadership is because they know how to identify opportunities that will help market their brand. Whether it be as simple as checking in their attendance on Facebook with a number of other business people they want to be seen associating with, to contributing their thoughts to the media about a hot topic.
Opportunities are often misread by other businesses as ‘unpaid, time intensive, no guarantee’ activities. But a business wanting to increase their brand presence approaches these as free marketing opportunities. There is no guarantee your thoughts will get picked up by the media, but imagine if they called you and said ‘would you be interested in sharing your thoughts as an article or in an interview’. That is marketing you can’t pay for. You can only build it by making the time to establish your brand as a business authority.
Once you start to implement these 7 areas it is then important to spread information across all your marketing channels in various ways. Add award finalists announcements to your email signature, your website footer, display them in your office. Send the announcements to your local chamber and newspaper. Opinions on relevant hot media topics and case studies could be written into articles and submitted to your industry association magazine, added to LinkedIn Pulse, your website as blogs and shared across social media. Repurpose content into powerpoint video as, infographs, quote designs etc.
The point is, a business who has developed brand leadership is recognised for their industry expertise and their ability to deliver in their niche. This is what they have built their reputation and authority on. A highly regarded business reputation takes time to build, but it can be ruined overnight if you do not monitor these 7 areas listed. When they stop working in your business then your reputation can turn or you become forgotten within the sea of competition.