The Dashboard Series – Marketing
The art of brand building to attract and retain the right customers
If your business’s current market perception were measured, how would your brand stand up? Would consumers easily recognise it; would they have interacted positively with your staff and speak favourably via word-of-mouth about your services and products; would they be able to easily recall what they may have seen or heard about your business?
In today’s highly competitive marketplace brand perception is everything! Your brand encompasses the visual, intrinsic (fundamental offering) and extrinsic (perceptions and feelings) aspects of your business. It defines and differentiates you from your competitors and, built strategically and carefully, it’s what attracts and retains a growing number of the right customers.
A brand’s Big 5
Whether a business is a multi-national or small independent, it’s vital that it has a solid, targeted marketing strategy in place that consolidates and coordinates all marketing efforts. While most inexperienced business owners believe that they can be all things to all consumers, in reality this is impossible.
What’s needed is a comprehensive understanding of who your customers are, what they’re looking for, and how to reach them, combined with a focus on consistent, strategic marketing initiatives which are as regular as other monthly tasks, like paying salaries and utilities. Done correctly, this helps you to build and define your brand.
In a nutshell, your overall brand can be defined as a combination of the following:
- Your Brand Promise: This is what you promise your customers when they purchase your tangible services or products, as well as the emotions and feelings they get when using them.
- Your Brand Perception: No matter what you think of your brand, it’s really all about how your customers perceive it that counts. So, it’s crucial to work hard on creating consumer perceptions that accurately reflect your brand if you wish to succeed.
- Your Brand Expectations: Consumers develop brand expectations based on your brand promise. If your brand doesn’t meet their expectations in every interaction with your business, you can be sure that they’ll take their hard-earned money elsewhere.
- Your Brand Persona: Think of your brand as a person. What would they look like? How would they interact with others? What personality would they have? From appearance to personality, consumers evaluate and judge your brand persona before they give you their business.
- Your Brand Elements: Your entire brand is made up of the previous four intangible elements, as well as tangible elements like your brand logo, messaging, packaging, and marketing. Always ensure that there’s synergy, harmony, and consistency between all elements in order for your brand to stand out and succeed.
Developing a strategic marketing strategy
The industry benchmark for your marketing budget should be around 2% of your annual turnover. If you currently have no marketing strategy and plan for executing this strategy in place, and you’re not spending time and resources on this critical business function, your business is probably not performing at its optimal level.
Many businesses make the huge mistake of blindly following their competitors’ visible marketing behaviour in a desperate attempt to attract more clients. Hundreds of thousands of rands are spent on print and radio ads, and digital campaigns like bulk text messages and emailers, with little or no thought given to return on investment.
Beneficial marketing begins with understanding and streamlining your entire business and offering, and knowing who your customers are, what they’re looking for, and what media they interact with before spending any money on your actual annual marketing activities to ensure that when you do, you’re communicating strategically, effectively and appropriately.
Always start by knowing your target market. There are many ways to do this, but the most common is to use the Living Standard Measure (LSM), which defines the various economic brackets of typical consumers, as well as their purchasing behaviours.
From high to low these include: Differentiated Investors, Skilled Shoppers, Effort Minimisers, Constrained Budgeters and Cost Minimisers; each with a specific set of behavioural characteristics which you’ll need to engage with and attract (depending on your target LSM) in order to grow and retain your client base.
After you’ve defined who you’re targeting, you can then more accurately choose the right medium, ways, and times to reach, communicate and engage with your audience. Before you launch any external marketing initiatives, always ensure that your employees are up-to-date with current campaigns – and that your internal environment reflects the current initiative too.
This kind of strategic, synergetic marketing approach will optimise your marketing efforts and resources, help you to create a professional brand image, and establish valuable dialogue with your target audience in order to grow your client base and business.
After each marketing initiative, it’s also vital that you accurately measure its efficacy. Did your client base grow directly after the campaign? What are consumers saying about it? Have sales increased? At the very least, ask each new client how they came to hear about your business and choose your services. This gives you instant feedback and, if for example they say word-of-mouth, then ensure that your service levels remain top-notch at all times.
At the end of the day, brand building and marketing are very complex strategies that require careful consideration and planning to be effective. Simply put, marketing is about knowing your business thoroughly, offering great products and services, and communicating with your customers in consistent, effective and appropriate ways. Add strategy, an annual budget, and consistent, professionally crafted campaigns or initiatives to this and there’s no reason why your business shouldn’t be a success!
Industry insights to maximise the success of your practice
If you’re in need of personalised and professional advice on how to design and implement an effective marketing strategy to improve your practice’s performance, get in touch with Vizibiliti Management Services today.
BY ALISON MAYTHAM
“There are many different factors that determine the success of your practice – but, as a busy healthcare professional focusing on the needs of your patients, you may not always have the time to focus on the many demanding, and often complex, facets of managing your business. Vizibiliti provides you with easy access to insightful, comprehensive practice and business management solutions and advice across all stages of your business journey – from establishing, growing or closing your practice.”