The long-term success of any business depends on a good brand strategy. We talk to a small business educator with a wealth of experience about the importance of small business marketing, branding and investment.
Avoid investing in your small business’s brand at your peril. Eushra Nashmin is one of MTC Australia’s dedicated entrepreneurship trainers. She says by not properly investing in your business’s brand, you can not only impact its ability to break out from the crowd – it can lead to eventual failure.
Many people hear the word ‘brand’ and think of a great logo and business name, but it’s much more than this – a solid brand is weaved throughout your whole business, from everything you produce or every service you provide to how you do it. Consider it this way: your business’s brand is about the customer’s overall experience of your product/service, from your logo and business name down to customer service and employee conduct.
“Branding is the identity of a business,” Eushra says.
Small business branding
Eushra is a trainer for students in the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) program, a government initiative run by MTC that provides business mentoring and income support to burgeoning entrepreneurs. Many of Eushra’s students are initially reluctant to invest in branding due to the time and money involved. Eushra says this is a big mistake.
“It can be an expensive process and requires excellent customer service from the very beginning, but it’s really important to see your business as a brand, no matter how big or small it is. Customers are loyal to popular brands and know they can rely on them. Without a strong brand, your start-up could get lost in the noise of the competition and ultimately fail,” she explains.
When developing your brand, Eushra says a solid first step is deciding on a good business name. “A good business name is easy to pronounce, easy to understand and explains the importance and purpose of your business,” she says.
Small business marketing: Developing your brand
To develop your brand and get it out into the world, you need more than a snazzy name: you need a strategy. Your brand strategy will involve analysing your product/service, your business’s vision and values, as well as the market and its competitors. This will help you understand your customers’ needs and create a point of difference from competitors, while communicating your own values and mission (in other words, your brand’s story).
“The long-term success of any business depends on a good brand strategy. One of the first steps in developing a brand strategy is to avoid short-term traps and always plan for the long term; stay flexible and don’t get obsessed with one particular idea. Also, many of my students get stuck because they’ve heard too many opinions and then suffer paralysis by analysis,” says Eushra.
Through implementing a solid brand strategy, one of Eushra’s students saw a dramatic increase in Facebook followers. “They started with 10 followers on their business’s Facebook page and now, after developing a good brand strategy, they have over 300,000 followers. This was only possible because they created a good brand name for excellent customer service,” she says.
Building brand awareness without breaking the bank
Eushra says that many of her students simply don’t invest enough thought and money into paid ads on popular social media channels. “Marketing your brand doesn’t need to break the bank. Look into paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram. Also, never underestimate the power of networking,” Eushra says.
“If you can target the right customer base in the right market and get as many followers for your page as you can, it gets easier to establish a good brand image. Customers and investors look at the number of followers you have on your business page and they look at your reviews, too.”
Creating and building your brand is not an overnight game – it will require your time and, yes, some investment. But it can also protect your business against failure and maintain its resilience in a fickle market.
If you have a great business idea, MTC can help you make it a reality. NEIS is a free program that will teach you how to start and run your own successful business.
MTC has helped lots of new business owners through NEIS, from family daycare, bookkeepers and mechanics to food services, tutoring, dressmakers and lots more. Phone 1300 232 663 for more information.