Thursday, November 22, 2007


Many small businesses are good at pursuing a relationship with customers, but they aren't as good at nurturing it.

Nurturing a relationship allows you to reinforce your brand and increase brand loyalty. This also helps you weather the storms of increasing competition. For example, your competitor may drop its price, but your customers will remain loyal to you. Furthermore, small businesses have a "leg up" over large competitors because they're more flexible and personalized to the individual customer. Many entrepreneurs assume branding is expensive. But reinforcing your brand doesn't need to cost a lot.

Here are the easy and inexpensive ways you can boost your brand :

Create an affiliate program.
A good affiliate network allows you to grow your e-business efficiently and affordably, channeling additional traffic to your site without the expense of pay-per-click advertising. Provide your affiliates with links and ads that carry your branding message.

Start or contribute to a blog.
Look for a highly trafficked and searched blog in your industry, then write and post relevant articles about your business. Let your personality shine through in the tone of your writing.

Print your logo on labels/stickers and place them on all communication with customers.
Stickers appeal to our tactile nature and add interest to just about anything. They don't need to be fancy, but they should feature your logo and colors.

Attach your tagline to your e-mail signature.
If you don't already have a tagline or motto that communicates a key difference between you and your competition, create one and consider trademarking it.

Print your logo on an inexpensive premium like a hat or golf ball.
The more memorable the item, the better. Distribute your premium on every sales call, to customers, prospects and even suppliers. Buy in bulk to reduce costs.

Start an e-mail newsletter for your customers and prospects.
Include your own articles and link to other pieces related to your industry. This is a great way to keep your brand in front of customers and prospects regularly.

Offer your expertise to media publications that are read by your target customers.
Make yourself available as a source for upcoming stories related to your business. Or, write an article and pitch it to target publications.

Visit your clients.
Visit your clients around holidays , leaving them a holiday-themed surprise with your logo on it. Use the stickers you print to customize the treats you choose. This one takes some creativity, but a little candy can go a surprisingly long way.

Follow up.
Follow up with customers to thank them for their business and get feedback on your product or service. Call, e-mail or visit current customers as often as time permits.

Ensure that all your promotional materials match one another graphically.
At the very least, your business cards, stationery, signage, packaging, brochures and website should all feature your name, logo and tagline consistently.

At its core, branding is about building trust with your target audience. This takes time and consistency, but not a huge advertising budget.

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