At the onset of the new year, you went to work. You reviewed successes and failures from the year gone by, learned from your mistakes, and laid out a roadmap of goals.
As the dust settles, you examine that map with a new perspective; a perspective that may question, doubt and stir anxiety around available resources.
When this starts to happen, one of the first things to be sacrificed in the name of other, more-important business endeavors is branding. And while this aspect of business may seem like filler and fluff on the surface, it proves to carry a great deal of weight and impact in conjunction with other areas of any business.
If it’s the bottom line you’re after, drawing a permanent line under building brand equity is essential and, more importantly, 100 percent manageable on a minimal budget. I was able to garner major press attention for my startup and our initiatives on a limited budget.
Keep the following strategies in mind, and soon you too will increase your brand's equity with very little capital.
What is brand equity, and why does it matter?
Brand expert and author David Aaker breaks down the concept of brand equity into four different dimensions. These dimensions include brand loyalty, brand awareness, brand associations and perceived quality.
By measuring a handful of factors concerning each, you’re better able to assess what kind of value you provide your audience through your products and services.
What makes the idea of branding and brand equity frustrating for business owners is the inability always to see immediate, tangible results from efforts made. On the other hand, when you think of brand equity as a factor of creating positive feelings among customers or the positioning of your business’ differentiator across competitors, it’s difficult to label those things as anything but remarkable.
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At the end of the day, a regular and loyal stream of customers is vital, making the time you take to influence their opinions of your brand essential for long-term success.
1. Provide a human touch
Nowadays, digital may be king, but there’s still something to be said for its analog predecessors. Consider, for example, the feeling of excitement a handwritten note can bring. The time it took to write, the personalization that went into it, the thought and care for its presentation and send — they far outweigh the surprise that comes from a new email in the inbox.
One of the easiest ways to impact your brand equity on a budget is to think of your brand as a person and your customers as people.
Find ways to delight through less-expected and less-saturated methods, such as personalized letters sent on behalf of your brand.
Some companies exist to help you efficiently tackle these types of endeavors at a reasonable cost, such as Felt and Bond.
2. Put employees to work beyond their titles
One of the most prominent roadblocks businesses will find themselves running into is the creation of creative content and campaigns. If your marketing department is all out of ideas, don’t just throw in the towel. Turn to other areas within your company for insights and suggestions for enticing new customers.
On the other hand, if your marketing department has a concept that, at face value, seems like it’ll break the bank and require extensive outsourcing, maintain an open mind. Say your team has storyboarded a brilliant idea for a brand video but has no known videographer on staff. Ask the team and see if anyone has a passion for video production or pursues it outside of the office.
The more you go behind the scenes with your team, the more you’ll come to realize how multifaceted your employees are and how willing they’ll be to participate in functions outside of their normal duties if given a chance. Be open to using them as actors or have them construct DIY video equipment on the cheap.
Trust in the process isn’t always cheap from the perspective of time, but as a monetary value, it sure beats bringing in a large agency with a less-vested interest in your brand’s longevity.
3. Proactively seek the right conversations
Brands forget sometimes that interacting with customers is a two-way street. This is just as applicable to proactively engaging in conversations as it is in reacting to them when they come to you.
Aside from enterprise listening software and agency expertise, one of the most comfortable and most budget-friendly ways to boost your brand’s image is to put tools you may already be using to work in their fullest capacities.
For example, HootSuite is a commonly-used platform for social media management and is quite affordable for smaller businesses in comparison to some of its larger competitors. Not just for scheduling and keeping a stream of social feeds together in one place, Hootsuite also allows brands to add and customize their keyword searches for more accurately pinpointing conversations of interest.
Whether you want to narrow in on Tweets that only talk about unicorns with positive sentiment or conversations from more influential, verified users, there are plenty of filter queries to put to use for more advanced results.
When it comes down to it, channeling the most human elements of your brand (i.e., you, your employees and your customers) is a surefire way to increase brand equity with minimal spend. To see the real wins come to life, you need to be willing to get both creative and resourceful.
Put to work what’s already been laid out in front of you to its fullest potential, and the rest will follow suit.