Something that you hear a lot of in social media is the idea of branding. We also hear about branding in exclusion to sales. But is branding just a marketers excuse for not delivering the sale? What part of the sales funnel incorporates branding?
When a marketer isn’t deliver the sale you will often hear them say:
“We are building your brand recognition”
“Creating a strong brand”
“Getting your brand out there”
What does that mean? What is the value of branding? It might sound like a bucket of horse apples, but there might be more to it than you think.
A brand is a name you know, like and trust. So branding is the art of becoming knowable, likeable and trustworth. Not sure you are fully seeing the value? Lets look at some of the ultimate branding successes:
Kleenex – Your nose is runny to you ask for a facial tissue or a kleenex?
Coke- Have you ever said you wanted a coke and then were asked what kind?
Xerox– how often do you make photo-stats or do you make a xerox
Even Google has become one- “Let me google that” instead of “let me search for that”
These are words that have become a part of our vocabulary and encompass everyone in their category. Of course most people won’t achieve this level of brand recognition, but it doesn’t mean that branding doesn’t play a valuable roll in your business marketing.
Brand recognition is what separates you from the pack. Your name becomes synonymous with your reputation. If that reputation is good then your name carries its own capital value. If your reputation is good and your name is synonymous with your reputation, then you will breed trust with your brand. That trust then also becomes a part of the brand reputation.
Does branding get you the sale?
Not in the short run. But it will in the long run. When you are building your brand you need to focus on establishing your reputation. People don’t yet know you so they don’t yet trust you. If they don’t trust you why are they going to click your link and buy from you? However, once you have brand recognition they will buy from you because they do trust you. Not only will they buy from you but you will have better loyalty and be able to command a higher price than your unbranded competition. People are willing to pay for reputation.
In some cases your reputation becomes a status symbol, like Bently or Rolex. There are plenty of other diamond encrusted watches that are good. But you know Rolex is good and that they stand behind their product. So you are willing to pay a premium for what you know to be a quality product with good customer service and a high retained equity value. That is another place where branding comes into play. The value of your brand also extends to its long term equity. If you are known for excellence in your products, that can generate a higher resale value, which intern makes buying your product an investment.
Branding is not the end all be all of marketing. You still need to go out and farm the lead and work the sale. Though it will great help you in the long run, you still have to get the sale in the short run. This is why social media is so effective to accomplish both. With a good strategy you can generate leads while you simultaneously work your branding. As your branding improves, so will your sales.
Using the social networks to get in front of your audience and participate in topic relevant conversations are a great way to get your brand in front of your potential customers. By thoughtfully participating you can begin to boost your reputation by establishing yourself as educated and informed. This is the first step to being trustworthy.
Brand your Sales Funnel
You do not have to have a million dollar marketing budget to work on branding. You need to get the sales. But your branding should not be separate from your sales, it should be integrated. While you are finding your leads and closing your sales, keep in mind that your brand will be helping you along the way. So help it back. Hop onto your networks and jump into the conversations. Offer your knowledge and contribute. You will be surprised at how many leads you can generate by simply participating.