Tag: branding

Digital Branding

8 Steps to Building a Successful Brand

When a customer hands over their hard-earned money for your product or service they are making a commitment to your brand. Having a strong brand means that customers know, like, and trust your business. Strong brands are rewarded with high customer approval. Successful companies know this and invest heavily in building and improving their brands. Your brand doesn’t just exist in your marketing message. It lives in every interaction your business makes with customers. The five steps below will give you a head start on creating a successful brand.

Purpose

Purpose

With the advent of the internet, consumers have a lot of options when it comes to

selecting products and services. Just having a catchy slogan or a slick logo won’t get you very far. Your brand has to stand for something. You have to know why your business does what it does and you need to make sure that all of your customers are aware of this as well. Your purpose is the absolute, innermost core reason of why your business exists. When customers can align with your purpose they will buy into your brand at a cellular level

In Simon SInek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” TED talk he shared that what separates great companies from good ones is the fact that great companies lead with their purpose in everything that they do. For example, Apple’s core message is to “Think Different” in everything that you do. They promote this message through selling products that are beautifully designed and exquisitely minimalistic. This is what allows them to stand out from the pack.

Emotion

emotion

Contrary to popular belief. We don’t buy based on logic. We buy based on emotion. Emotion is the reason why people spend thousands of dollars on designer handbags when a similar sized bag from Wal-Mart or Target could hold their personal items just fine. When someone chooses to spend this type of money on a handbag they aren’t buying a bag. They’re buying status. To make a successful brand you must create this type of emotion in your customers.

Community

Community

Humans aren’t meant to live alone. We thrive in communities. Powerful brands build communities that empower their customers and give them a direct line of communication to their audience. Now, any business can use social media to create a community with their customers. In a Business News Daily article, Manta CEO John Swanciger said that a brand’s top priority for social media should be community building.

Big brands know the importance of building a community. Take H&R Block for example. They created a section of their website, titled “Get Answers” that allowed users to ask tax questions and get quick answers from professionals. The community empowers user to share and learn all on the H&R block website. The company promoted this new feature with their “Get It Right” campaign on social media which gave them a 15% increase in business vs. the year before when no social media was involved in their marketing.

Consistency

Consistency

Many businesses make the mistake of branding themselves inconsistently across different platforms. They may take one marketing angle on their website, a different one on their Facebook page, and continue this pattern across several platforms. Usually, this is done to try and connect with several different audiences but this usually has an adverse effect. Inconsistent branding confuses customers and creates a disconnect. To create a strong brand, you must maintain a consistent image and message throughout your entire business, including your website, marketing, logo, social media channels, etc. Being consistent allows consumers to become familiar with you, and later trust you.

Value

Value

If you don’t provide value to your customers, they will quickly run to your competitors. Why should a customer choose you over anyone else? What can you offer that is head and shoulders above all others? You don’t have to be great at everything. Start with focusing on being great at one thing and do it better than your competitors. Offer outstanding customer service. Take a customized approach with your clients. Reward your customers for their loyalty.

You can’t mention customer service without bringing up Zappos. CEO Tony Hsieh has made it his goal to provide legendary customer service. In a Forbes.com article, it was revealed that to understand customer service, Hsieh gave each of his employees $100 and asked them to buy two pairs of shoes from Zappos.com – one to return and one to keep. He then asked the employees to share their experience with the team. Zappos invests heavily in customer service over marketing. They want to create more personal connections with customers by tracking and observing customer behavior. Although Zappos spends a lot of money on customer analytics they understand that there is a human touch that is essential in customer service that can’t be quantified.

Wrapping Up

Building a successful brand isn’t an easy task. Any strategic marketing consultant would lay out these foundations for growth and it’s important to get the strategy right from the start. Brands become extraordinary not by gaining customers, but by creating fans. Every brand mentioned above offers something unique that makes it stand out from all of it’s competitors. When you’re bold, honest, and transparent in your marketplace you’re rewarded with customer approval.

Digital Branding

How Apple Creates an Irresistible Brand (and How You Can Too)

It’s inevitable. Every year Apple releases a new iPhone and just like clockwork long lines of consumers flock to stand outside of Apple stores patiently waiting for the next new installment of the Apple legacy. It’s safe to assume that the release of the iPhone 7 will be no different.

Why would people put their lives on hold and stand in line for a phone? We’re not talking about a necessity like food or water, but a cell phone. You could simply wait a few days, walk into a store (sans the line) and buy one. Or, you could ditch the store altogether and order one online. But, no matter how convenient it is in the 21st century to buy an iPhone, there will still be a percentage of raving fans who will pitch a tent and camp out to get their hands on a new iPhone a few days before the general public.

Why Do We Line Up for iPhones?

Why-Do-We-Line-Up-for-iPhones

The most important point of all of this is that people aren’t waiting in line for a phone. They’re waiting in line to be a part of the Apple brand. Apple’s brand represents elegant design, sophistication, and classy minimalism. But, how does this happen and why don’t other brands evoke this response from consumers?

Bestselling author Simon Sinek sought to discover the answer to this question in his book “Start With Why”. According to his research, a company’s marketing can be broken down into three different layers:

  1. Why – This is what the business believes at its very core. This is what it stands for.
  2. How – This is how the company goes about fulfilling it’s “Why”
  3. What – This is how the business operates, or “What” it actually does

Simon discovered that most companies do their marketing in the wrong order. They start with “what” they do, then move onto “how” they do it, and don’t ever mention “why” they’re in business in the first place.

Apple starts out by making consumers aware of their why. Their “why” drives all of their marketing messaging. Simon broke this down in an example to make his point clear. Here’s what Apple’s marketing message would be if they took the same path as just about everyone else:

“We make great computers. They’re user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?”
apple-macbook

These are all valid points but the message above fails to resonate with the consumer. It sounds like just about every other computer company. They have great computers, with great features and they cost X amount of dollars. This falls flat.

Instead, Apple starts with “why” which evokes emotion from the consumer and gets them excited about Apple’s brand.

“With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

Since Apple starts out with their core beliefs, they attract customers who share their beliefs, which causes people to get addicted to their brand. Sinek states that “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” Apple doesn’t sell computers and phones. They sell status, creativity, and a lifestyle.

How to Make Your Brand Irresistible

How-to-Make-Your-Brand-Irresistible

1. Start With the Core Purpose of Your Business

The first step is to align your core beliefs with your marketing. Think about your own business and how you extend your offerings to your consumers. How do you market your products and services? Is it aligned with your brand? People buy “the why” behind what you do so it’s important that your core beliefs are at the forefront of your marketing.

Before you do that you must drill down exactly what your “why” is.

For example, Tom’s is known as the “One for One Company” because they provide a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes they sell. Their why is that they want to help children across the world. What is your “why”?

2. Get your “Why” Into Your Marketing

Get-your-Why-Into-Your-Marketing

Whenever you craft a piece of marketing copy you’ll want to make sure that you’re installing your why into it. For example, here’s an example of the difference between starting with “Why” vs. “How”.

“In our new video course ‘The Top 10 Tips for Maximizing ROI on Your Facebook Ads’ we’ll show you how to create a profitable Facebook ad campaign and how to improve an existing one.” Click here to get your copy.

vs.

“Imagine your perfect customer – someone who loves your product, buys from you over and over again, and raves about your company to everyone. If you could click a button and have a line of these customers knocking on your door to buy your product, would you? In our new video course ‘The Top 10 Tips for Maximizing ROI on Your Facebook Ads’ we’ll show you what buttons to press. Click here to get your copy.

Do you feel the difference? The second piece of leads with the reason why people would want to maximize the ROI of their Facebook ads. People don’t want to actually create better Facebook ads. They want more customers and more specifically repeat customers.

3. Craft Your Buyer Persona

Have you taken the time to think about your buyer? Do you know exactly who buys your products? A lot of companies get so wrapped up in their own activity that they forget the most important part of their business: their customers. Without customers, there are no sales. Without sales, your business won’t last very long.

You don’t just want to know the demographics of your customer. You want to know what drives them to buy from you. Are you the “mom and pop” that has had loyal customers for years and always gives a personal touch to its customers? Do you provide incredible, individualized customer service and make yourself readily accessible when a customer has a complaint? Find what “makes you, you” and sell that to your customers.

Wrapping Up

Marketing this way may seem overwhelming at first but it’s actually very simple. If you need help figuring things out, go to your existing customers to find your “why”. When you start thinking from the inside out you’ll be well on your way to creating an infectious brand that your customers will love.

Digital Branding

The Secret to Selling $1,500 Coats

During the winter months, you won’t have to look too hard to find someone with a winter coat made by Canada Goose. Once reserved for Canadian Rangers and explorers, the Canada-based winter clothing retailer has become an elite brand all over the world that’s worn by everyone from college students to celebrities. If you stumble across a Canada Goose jacket the first thing you’ll notice is the price. Their coats retail anywhere from $500 to upwards of $1,500. However, the sky-high prices haven’t slowed Canada Goose down at all. When Dani Reiss became CEO of the company, Canada Goose was bringing in $3 million in sales annually. That figure has now climbed to over $200 million and counting. How did Canada Goose do it?

Positioning

Positioning-canada-goose

Canada Goose was originally founded in 1957 by Polish Immigrant Sam Tick under the name Metro Sportswear Ltd. In 1972 Tick’s son-in-law, Reiss’ grandfather, became CEO. In the early 1980s Reiss’ grandfather purchased the company from Tick and started making parkas under the name “Snow Goose” which was eventually changed to Canada Goose. The brand was originally made to keep wearers warm under the harshest and coldest environments. Canada Goose gained a cult following from those that used and needed the company’s products the most.

In the early 2000s, there was a mass exodus of North American manufacturing jobs. Companies were moving their manufacturing operations to Asia in droves to reduce costs, lower prices, and improve margins. Instead of following the herd, Reiss decided to keep manufacturing in Canada to maintain the company’s authenticity. At first, the U.S. market rejected Canada Goose’s high price points. However, Canada Goose became a luxury item in Europe and slowly U.S. retailers caught on and began to see Canada Goose as a high-end brand that was worth the cost.

Consumers love a good story and they have fallen in love with the company’s humble beginnings and strong narrative. Staying true to its roots and remaining authentic allowed Canada Goose to separate itself from the competition and position its products as high-end.

Cultural Branding

Cultural Branding

Canada Goose doesn’t engage in traditional marketing campaigns. They rely on cultural branding. Cultural branding occurs when a company wants their brand to assimilate within a culture. They do this through strategic product placement within a target market. By doing this, Canada Goose has taken the power of influence away from marketing experts and has given it to the consumer. They want awareness of their brand to spread between friends, family, coworkers, etc. This creates a brand that is much more likeable than one that just blasts ads to you through several mediums. When you buy a Canada Goose product you aren’t buying a coat, jacket, or hat. You’re buying a lifestyle. Canada Goose has made some genius marketing moves to shape its brand:

In the 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, supermodel Kate Upton was photographed on a yacht in Antarctica. To keep herself warm, Upton wore a Canada Goose jacket lined with fur. This gave Canada Goose a huge brand awareness boost.

In 2012, Canada Goose sponsored the Sundance Film Festival by giving coats to over 300 celebrities. This exposed the brand to the “who’s who” of Hollywood and gave the company excellent exposure. To penetrate the high-end luxury culture, Canada Goose took a top-down approach by influencing celebrities and tastemakers to wear their merchandise. This helped to make their brand popular among the average consumer.

Becoming Fashionable

Canada Goose has followed in the footsteps of brands like The North Face and L.L. Bean whose products became popular with small groups like hikers and fisherman but later started engaging broader audiences. They did this by shifting from being seen as a functional brand to becoming a fashionable one. People are willing to pay more for fashion and luxury.

Reputation & Distribution

Reputation & Distribution

Canada Goose has done an excellent job at protecting its brand. When you first think of Canada Goose, high prices may come to mind. When it comes to their success, Canada Goose must be recognized for their ability to hold onto a strong reputation. As Canada Goose grows in popularity there has been an increased demand for their products. But, the retailer has focused on limiting access to their product. A luxury brand has to remain exclusive. Canada Goose has remained exclusive by not saturating the market with too many product lines or allowing their product to end up in discount stores.

Wrapping Up

wrapping-up

In 2013, private equity firm Bain Capital bought a $250 million majority stake in Canada Goose that will give the retailer cash to expand its operations. The company has offices in the U.S., Europe, and of course, Canada. Moving forward, Reiss wants to make sure that he maintains the brand’s integrity and value. “We have to continue to make an amazing product…We have to stay away from licensing, stay away from diluting the brand, stay away from making crappy stuff and throwing our logo on it, because I think that kills anything. We’re not just a logo.”

Digital Branding

The Top 5 Best Ad Campaigns of All Time

What makes people buy? The best advertising campaigns are able to invoke an emotional response from consumers, connect, and engage with them at their core. A product rarely achieves advertising success based solely on merit. The best marketing and ad campaigns psychologically and emotionally create a response in all of us. With the growth of the internet and social media, brands are constantly fighting over the attention of consumers. To make your product or brand stand out you must get creative. Here are four brands that created insanely successful ad campaigns.

Dos Equis – The Most Interesting Man in the World

Dos-Equis---The-Most-Interesting-Man-in-the-World

In 2006, Dos Equis took a drastically different approach to selling beer. Instead of positioning their product as a must-have for getting the attention of attractive women, Dos Equis turned their beer into something that promoted distinction and curiosity. Played by actor Jonathan Goldsmith, the character “The Most Interesting Man in the World” says the following tagline at the end of every commercial: “I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” The ad campaign was so successful because it didn’t feel like a commercial. It felt more like a comedy short. Viewers became enamored with the character’s experiences and the character has even been turned into an internet meme. This unique positioning by Dos Equis opened the company’s product to a wider, more youthful audience.

California Milk Processor Board – Got Milk?

California-Milk-Processor-Board---Got-Milk-

California milk sales rose 7% in one year thanks to this clever ad campaign. The interesting part of this campaign is that it wasn’t created to target non-milk drinkers, but those who were already drinking milk. This is important because it’s not always beneficial or cost-effective to try and reel in a new audience. Sometimes, it’s better to market to your current audience and get them to not only start buying your product more, but become fans that promote your product to others as well.

Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Old-Spice---The-Man-Your-Man-Could-Smell-Like

You usually don’t see a lot of overnight successes in online marketing but Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign is an exception. In February 2010, ad agency Weiden + Kennedy launched the first commercial in the campaign, featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa, and it was a viral sensation. Later that year, Wieden + Kennedy devised a social media video campaign in which Mustafa made 186 video responses to viewer comments online. Wieden + Kennedy creative director Jason Bagley described it by saying, “We were creating and sending miniature TV commercials back to individual consumers that were personalized, and we were doing it on a rapid-fire basis…No one expects to ask a question and then be responded to. I think that’s where we broke through”. The video responses made this campaign extremely successful. Weiden + Kennedy capitalized on the momentum of their initial TV spots and engaged with followers and fans. Through all of this, sustaining the brand’s new image and voice were always kept as a high priority.

Dove – Campaign for Real Beauty

Dove---Campaign-for-Real-Beauty

In 2004, Unilever discovered that only four percent of women thought of themselves as beautiful. So, with the help of Edelman Public Relations and Ogilvy & Mather, the company launched a campaign that challenged people to rethink how they perceived female beauty. The campaign gained a flood of attention from the media and discussions of female beauty started taking place on talk shows, in magazines, newspapers, and online. One ad features a sketch artist who first draws a woman’s face based on the woman’s description of herself. Next, he does a sketch of the same woman but based on someone else’s description. Once complete, the sketches are both posted side-by-side and the subjects look at them. In every case, the drawing based on a description from a 3rd party is more flattering than the woman’s own description of herself. This video went viral and contributed in a big way to the success of this ad campaign. This campaign was successful because it touched people emotionally and allowed people to realize that “normal” standard for female beauty isn’t always attainable and that just being yourself is enough.

Progressive – Flo

Progressive---Flo

It’s not easy to make insurance interesting. With the help of stand-up comic Stephanie Courtney, Progressive launched an ad campaign that featured an upbeat, perky sales agent named Flo. In these commercials, Flo talks to customers about Progressive’s features in a sitcom style setting. Viewers loved the ad campaign so much that Flo has appeared in over 100 commercials since 2008. Progressive was able to successfully break away from the negative public perception that people have of insurance companies by creating a fun and interesting character.

Conclusion

Creating amazing, viral marketing isn’t easy. For every incredible success, there are many more failures. However, if you focus on engaging with your customer and creating a psychological and emotional connection with them, you’ll be well on your way to creating a successful campaign.

Digital Branding

What CrossFit Can Teach Us About Creating a Successful Brand

You can’t get far in any large city without running into a CrossFit box (gym). This fitness phenomenon has created a cult following all over the U.S. This movement started from one small gym in California and has multiplied into 10,000 independently-owned CrossFit boxes. CrossFit even has it’s own annual international competition known as the CrossFit Games which features 200,000+ participants. CrossFit members pay $150 to $200 per month to climb ropes, flip tires, and do pull ups in old warehouses and manufacturing plants. You won’t find any frills such as a sauna, pool, or tennis court here (like a traditional gym). If you know anyone who’s a member you surely know that they absolutely love talking about CrossFit, and want you to join.

So, how has CrossFit become so successful?

If you’re looking to create a brand for your own business, you can learn a lot from CrossFit (sans the tire flipping). Below you’ll see how CrossFit has become so popular and learn how you can use the same principles in your own business.

Make Something Awesome

Make Something Awesome

People don’t join CrossFit just for the T-Shirts. In a study conducted by the Physical Activity Sciences Laboratory at Laval University, participants in one group exercised for 45 minutes on a stationary bike at moderate-intensity and another group exercised in 20-minute intervals at high intensity. The high-intensity group lost burned the same number of calories as the moderate-intensity group but lost nine times more fat. Your body responds to high-intensity exercises by releasing human growth hormone (HGH) into your blood. These hormones cause your body to build muscle and burn fat. Walking, a light jog or a moderate pace on the elliptical doesn’t trigger this fat-burning phenomenon.

CrossFit’s high-intensity workouts use this science to give its members awesome results. From this, we learn that step one to having an outstanding brand is having a product or service that just plain works. All the marketing and branding in the world can’t save your business if you’re selling a dud to your customers.

Tap Into Your Customer’s “Lizard Brain”

Tap Into Your Customer’s “Lizard Brain”

Athletic rituals have been around since the beginning of time. Once man was no longer required to hunt for all of his meals, athletic contests became a substitute. From the Ancient Greek Olympic Games to modern times, success through physical competition has always been seen as a symbol of superiority and has been encouraged throughout our culture. Great marketing always does a great job of tapping into our most basic and primal human instincts. CrossFit is no different. CrossFit’s daily rituals of intense exercise flip a primal switch in our brains. Instead of promising vain results such as washboard abs and a nice butt, CrossFit promotes mastering exercises for practical, functional results such as a strong core.

To truly make your brand irresistible you must tap into the “lizard brain” of your customer by offering a product that stirs emotion and guides him or her toward instinct-based decision making. Google’s “Dear Sophie” ad created media buzz because it profoundly evoked emotion through storytelling. The ad successfully made consumers feel a certain way. Your marketing must have an emotional context to make your brand more engaging.

For example, if you are trying to market boxing classes, it’s great to spin your campaign around world-famous boxers who have been known for their persistence, motivation, and achievements. That way, when you are aiming to sell best boxing shoes, you are not just selling the shoes – you are selling the success that follows them.

Build a Community

Build-a-Community

In a study completed by Norwich Medical School, researchers discovered that participants who engaged in group exercise performed better and at a faster pace than they would have on their own. They also had a more positive attitude towards exercise and reported feeling less alone and isolated during their daily lives. CrossFit workouts revolve around a group exercise format. Each CrossFit Workout of the Day (WOD) session is completed by anywhere from 5 to 20 people. Completing physically grueling exercise within a group bonds those people together and allows them to perform at a level they may have not achieved on their own (think: the military).

CrossFit has a rabid fan base due in large part to the community that they have created through their group workouts. If you want your customers to be loyal followers and disciples of your brand, you must create a community within your business. Reaching individual customers has never been easier throughout the history of the world than it is now. For example, Starbucks’ My Starbucks Idea platform is basically a new-school version of the tried-and-true suggestion box. This outlet has given a voice to Starbucks’ customers and partners and has led to over 300 innovations including digital tipping and free Wi-Fi. You may not have the same reach as Starbucks but you can still use tools like social media to listen to your customers and create a fun, interactive experience for your brand.

Conclusion

CrossFit has been so successful because it reaches its customers on an emotional level, creates a strong community, and sells an outstanding product. Creating a loyal following of customers is no easy task but implementing the marketing lessons above will put you on the right track.

SaaS Branding

3 Myths About Your Customers That are Crippling Your Marketing Strategy

Marketing a SaaS presents unique challenges. With all the virtual noise out there, it’s not enough to simply present your product to the public. You have to get your advertising in front of the people who are likely to buy your software. Once they’ve bought the product, you have to maintain a relationship with them.

Before you can find those people and identify the places where advertising will be most effective, you have to know who those people are. You have to define your customers. These three myths may be blocking you from identifying your ideal customer and making the most of the customers you have.

Myth: My Software is Perfect for Everyone

Myth: My Software is Perfect for Everyone

This attitude is a common one. You’re proud of your product, justifiably so, and you believe that everyone, absolutely everyone, can benefit from using it. While this broad definition isn’t necessarily wrong, after all, Salesforce has a host of products that cater to companies of all sizes, it might actually be limiting the efficacy of your marketing efforts.

Most companies aren’t Salesforce. That’s not to say you can’t grow to become a powerhouse in the industry, but right now you’re probably one of dozens or hundreds of businesses offering similar products. To build your market share and access the diverse spectrum of customers that Salesforce has, you first have to narrow your focus.

You need to identify the customers who will benefit the most from your product and then convince them that they have a problem you can solve. Once you’ve identified your customers you can create targeted marketing aimed at them and place it on sites where they are likely to see it.

After you’ve built a strong customer base, you can work on expanding your offerings to encompass other types of clients.

I Know What is Most Valuable About my Software

Myth: I Know What is Most Valuable About my Software

You worked hard to develop your software. You studied the industry and you let your research inform your design. You put in key features that add value for users by helping them perform tasks more efficiently and save money. It’s understandable that you believe you know why your product is valuable to users.

But what if you’re wrong? What if there’s something your product does that really makes customers happy, and you aren’t aware of it? If that’s true, you may be missing vital marketing opportunities.

This problem is one most companies don’t even realize they have until they start to dig into the data. Listen to your customers. Ask for their feedback. Ask them what really sold them on your product. Ask them what they found most valuable.

Asking for customer insight can reap many benefits for your business. You’ll gain valuable information about what makes your software great, which you can then use to craft marketing campaigns that get customers excited about your product. At the same time your customers will feel like you’re listening to them, which will boost customer engagement and customer loyalty.

My Customers Want to be Left Alone

Myth: My Customers Want to be Left Alone

Communicating with clients requires a balance. Customers don’t want to be annoyed by spam emails and sales calls. Aggressive upselling will probably backfire because customers will stop taking your calls and start dumping your emails in the trash. Yet it is important to maintain open lines of communication with existing customers.

The sales relationship doesn’t end just because you’ve convinced the customer to buy your product. Particularly in the SaaS industry, keeping existing customers is far more profitable than converting new ones. Long-term customers provide a steady income for your business. They also offer opportunities for upselling without the expense of converting a new client.

So how do you continue to market to existing clients without annoying them? The key is providing useful advice and support that the customer will value. Instead of sending marketing emails, send training emails. Teach your customers how to really use and get the most out of your product. This helps build trust, which makes a client more likely to turn to you when they have another problem that needs a solution.

Ideally, you’ll identify those problems before the customer does, and present them with a solution that they can use. If you’ve built a strong foundation, the customer will likely welcome your suggestion.

To sum up. No matter how great your product is, you need to target your marketing. Customers are your best source of feedback on how to market your product. Though they don’t want to be annoyed by sales messages, customers will welcome communication from your company as long as it is relevant and useful.

SaaS Branding

Stand Out in the SaaS Market Through Brand Differentiation

You have your software. It provides a service, a service people need. It will make their lives easier, their business more efficient, and their accounting department happy (as happy as accountants can be). Clients should be crashing your server in a mad rush to access this game changing software, but they aren’t. Why not?

You may have a branding issue. In a market where a host of established companies already offer products that provide the same service – the old adage “If you build it they will come” no longer applies. You have to give your customers a reason to choose you over the competition. It’s called differentiation, and it should be the starting point for your marketing efforts.

The following questions serve as a jumping off point to help you identify what differentiates your company from the competition.

What Do you Do?

This should be a fairly simple one or two line statement. As an example, here’s the meta description for the Slack website: “Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.” Don’t worry if your statement isn’t quite as polished as this one. With some work, this statement might become your public mission statement, but right now, it’s a planning tool.

How Do you Do it?

List the key features of your product and the tools that you provide to users. And don’t forget that SaaS stands for Software as a Service. Also list the services you provide.

Where Do you Excel?

Where Do you Excel?

Is there an area of your focus in which you particularly excel? Perhaps you have amazing customer service or the slickest customer interface. Customer feedback can be a great way to identify your areas of expertise. Their answers might surprise you.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Who is Your Target Audience?

Be as specific as you can here. Your answer can’t be – Everyone. Not everyone needs Workforce Automation Software. Think about your ideal user. How big is their business? What kind of services do they provide? How many staff do they have? Do those staff members work collaboratively or independently? How many customers? How do they communicate with those customers? What is their level of technical knowledge? Do they have a formal business culture, or are they hip and trendy?

Now that you’ve answered those questions about your own software and service, you may already have some ideas about where your company excels. That’s great, but we’re not done yet. It’s time to take a look at the completion.

What Do other Brands in Your Market Do?

In examining this question you may identify service areas that other brands cover but yours does not. You may be tempted then, to try to change your software to do even more. Resist the urge. The goal here is not to redesign your product, but to figure out where you fit in the overall market landscape.

How Do They Do it?

Again you may be tempted to patch on a bunch of new features to make sure that your software does everything that theirs does. But hold on. The point here is not to change your product, but to get a clear idea of what your product is.

Where Do they Particularly Excel?

Look at the areas of service your competition stresses in their advertising. Read reviews and see what points they praise. If possible, talk to the customers of your competitors. Find out why they chose that company over others.

Who Do They Seem to be Targeting?

In some cases it’s easy to identify who your competition is targeting. Take Zirtual for example. The main message on their home page tells you their product is “for Entrepreneurs,
Professionals, and Small Teams.” Not all businesses label themselves so clearly, so you might have to make some assumptions based on their marketing. Are they talking about growing your startup or are they putting a lot of stress their software’s ability to handle huge client lists with ease? Is their messaging formal or playful?

Now that you’ve answered what, where, how, and who for both your company and the competition, it’s time to compare your answers. You are likely to find many areas where you overlap. For example, HubSpot and Infusionsoft both provide inbound marketing support through automation and optimization of online marketing to execute their clients’ individual marketing strategies.

If the answer to what What for one of the companies you listed is radically different from your answer, that company may not be your competition at all. You’re differentiated by default, since you offer a completely different service.

Your answers to How and Who are most likely to give you the key to your differentiation strategy. Though you may offer a host of features that are the same as those offered by your competition, you’ll differentiate your software by focusing on the one extra feature. If other companies are focused on clients with large established businesses, you might focus your marketing toward small to medium sized businesses.

A word of caution: you can take differentiation too far. Don’t try so hard to stand out that you promise more than you can give. Getting new customers is not use if you can’t keep them and unhappy customers can do a lot of damage to your reputation.

Focus on what your company does well. Base your marketing on that and you can’t go wrong.

SaaS Branding

Define Your Brand Through Pricing

The price you should charge for your SaaS product may seem like a foregone conclusion. You charge what the market can support, which means that you charge about the same as your competitors.

While not technically wrong, this simplistic view may result in lost revenue. Your pricing strategy can send customers powerful signals about your product, and pricing considerations should be part of your brand strategy.

To develop a pricing strategy that works, you should consider both internal and external factors affecting your business. This involves looking inward at your company as well as outward at the existing market. If either one changes too much, you may need to reevaluate your strategy.

Even if you start out with an effective strategy, you’ll likely need to adjust it multiple times over the life of your business to account for your growth and changes in the market. Here are some points to consider as you develop your initial pricing strategy and reexamine existing strategies.

Identifying Goals

Identifying Goals

Before you set a pricing strategy you need to develop a clear idea of how your company will fit into the market. Do you want to be a high-end provider or an affordable option? Do you have the infrastructure to handle a high number of clients? Do you have the staff to handle high end clients who will expect a higher level of service?

Knowing where you want to be in the market and what you can afford to offer can serve as a starting point for your pricing strategy, but it can’t be the only factor you consider.

Charging What You’re Worth

When figuring out how to set the price for your software, it may seem obvious that you should charge as little as possible. After all, customers want to save money. If you charge less, you’ll be lowering one of the hurdles that customers have to overcome to purchase your product. By this logic, lower prices should equal more customers. But there are other factors to consider.

Studies have shown that people tend to equate high prices with high quality. So setting your prices too low may send a signal to customers that you’re offering a lower quality product than your competitors. If your prices are significantly lower, customers may wonder where you cut corners to achieve those bargain basement prices.

When figuring out how to price your product take into account the value you’re providing to customers. If your product makes their business more efficient, you’re likely saving them money. Your pricing should reflect that. And your marketing should too. Communicating your value to potential customers will likely make them more willing to pay what your product is actually worth.

Look at Your Competitors

Look at Your Competitors

Now that you’ve looked inward at what your business can afford and what the product is worth it’s time to look outward at the market. Identify other companies offering similar products or services. Do they have different pricing for different levels of service? Do they offer packages? Are you offering something new or different that could demand a higher price?

Implementing Tiered Pricing

Once you’ve identified a price point, you’re still not quite done. Keep in mind that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Many SaaS companies, including SalesForce and HubSpot, offer tiered pricing based on the size of the organization buying the service and the level of functionality the client needs.

This is a great way to expand your market share, because it allows you to serve the needs of enterprise clients without scaring away smaller businesses who might not be able to afford, and probably don’t even need, the full package. Tiered pricing also opens you up to future upselling. You’ll be able to grow with a client by offering them what they need when they need it.

Freemium

Freemium

Finally, no discussion about pricing SaaS is complete without talking about Freemium models. Freemium is a pricing model under which you give away a basic software package for free and then charge for added features.

MailChimp is a good example of a SaaS company using a Freemium model. Mailchimp lets users send up to 12, 000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers every month for free. That seems like a lot of emails at first, but MailChimp is banking on the fact that businesses grow and so do mailing lists. When a user wants to expand beyond these caps or if they want services that make their email campaigns more effective, like marketing automation, the user must pay to unlock the features.

Giving your product away for free might seem like a losing strategy, but Freemium has long been a recognized practice in the SaaS industry. It works because it encourages users to become invested in your product. They convert themselves, by becoming dependent on the services you provide. They also already trust your company, so when they need software solutions, they’ll look to your company first.

Other considerations

Pricing is a complex decision matrix. Every company is in some way unique, and will need to consider different factors to reach an effective pricing strategy. Ultimately, the true test of whether a pricing strategy is right for your business, is whether people are willing to pay the price you’ve set for your product.

Legal Branding

The Importance of Law Firm Branding and Mission Statements

Branding is essential to a successful legal marketing campaign. Your brand explains your law firm’s value and attracts your ideal clients.

A law firm’s brand is its public identity and personality. A brand is not the services you offer. Instead, it describes how and why you provide these services.

When you are defining your law firm’s brand, a mission statement can be helpful.

How to Draft a Mission Statement

How to Draft a Mission Statement

Think critically about what makes your law firm special. While your brand can include your practice areas, it must focus on the value your firm adds.

As a firm, brainstorm over the following questions:

  • Why do you practice law?
  • Why did you choose your area of expertise (criminal law, personal injury, etc.)?
  • Why are you better than your competitors?
  • Why do your clients love you?

Focus on what makes you exceptional. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and don’t be too humble. The more specific your responses, the more detailed a mission statement you will create.

Once you understand your mission or brand, turn it into a narrative. Infuse your content and design choices with your message. Explain why your practice and your clients matter deeply to your firm.

Why Create a Mission Statement?

A Mission Statement Helps Set You Apart From Other Law Firms

Why Create a Mission Statement?

On the surface, law firms can be difficult to differentiate. But, a mission statement can help set your law firm apart from the competition. Your firm’s history, motivations and culture are unique. A mission statement should explain your culture and outlook to clients.

Generally, clients don’t care how big or old your law firm is. While they are interested in your practice areas and location, these characteristics rarely differentiate you from your competition. Culture sets you apart. Clients want a firm that matches their personality and goals.

For example, imagine two different business-related firms. One has a strong brand identity while the other does not. The non-branded firm’s phonebook ad announces:

“Our Community’s LLC Team. Founded in 1980. Free Consultation.”

A potential client sees that this firm helps with business creation, but not much else.

The branded firm’s website states:

“Our community thrives when small, local businesses are successful. We are a small business and experience the same challenges. We guide, educate and collaborate with our clients through every stage of a business’ life. Let’s build something together.”

The branded firm also boasts a business law blog and a client portal. Together, this firm gives prospective clients a better understanding of how it treats its clients and practices law.

A Mission Statement Educates Your Clients

When clients choose a law firm, there is an emotional component to their decision. Clients often choose lawyers because their early conversations built trust and rapport. A strong brand and marketing strategy can build trust even before the client contacts you.

An accurate mission statement is also the foundation for your clients’ expectations. Honest communication and accurate expectations are the key to strong attorney-client relationships. Don’t tell your clients you are compassionate and patient unless you really are. If you’re not disposed to long appointments with a lot of handholding, own it.

Mission Statements Can Guide Design Choices

As a law firm, you also don’t want a website or marketing campaign that looks like everyone else’s. Logos, images, and color choice all have emotional impact. Your visual elements should be as consistent with your mission or brand as your written content.

For example, people often connect colors with feelings. Red is associated with power while blue is often linked to peace or calmness. Together, Americans associate them with patriotism. What colors represent your law firm best? (For more information, see our article on visual branding.)

When you are developing print or digital materials, consider how your imagery reflects your brand or mission.

Mission Statements Can Guide Design Choices

If you a struggling to brand your law firm, try creating a mission statement that expresses your firm’s individuality and value added. Marketing professionals can also help refine and build law firm brands.

Legal Branding

How Client Reviews Help Law Firm Branding

Do you go to a movie or restaurant without checking its reviews? Thanks to social media, our purchases are often influenced by reviews and ratings. Today, reviews are an important part of legal marketing.

Hiring a lawyer is a big decision. Many potential clients rely on word-of-mouth and reviews to help with their decision. A happy client is a law firm’s best advertising.

Your law firm may be familiar with review-based websites like Martindale and Avvo. But, you can use client reviews in a more active way. Your clients’ opinions and experiences can be a powerful way to extend brand identity.

Reviews on Third-Party Sites

Reviews on Third-Party Sites

Sometimes, clients will voluntarily post a review. These reviews often appear on third-party sites like Facebook or Yelp. These reviews can be sporadic and unreliable.

Everyone loves a positive review! But, your client’s positive review may lack detail and marketing value. Which of these reviews do you prefer?

  • “My lawyer was great!”
  • “My lawyer kept fighting, even when things got tough. She always listened to me. I was surprised how quickly the other side settled! I have already sent friends to my law firm for help. Thank you.”

Both clients were happy with their lawyers. Clearly, the second review gives more information to potential clients. You can’t edit a client’s online review. But, you can encourage happy clients to post detailed online reviews.

If you receive negative reviews, write a prompt and empathetic response. Encourage the unhappy client to meet with you, and work to resolve the issue. While you cannot make everyone happy, prospective clients will notice your quick and courteous response.

How to Create a Client Questionnaire

How to Create a Client Questionnaire

You should also create your own client questionnaire. At the end of a case, send each client this questionnaire. Information from a client questionnaire can be used both internally and for marketing purposes.

A client questionnaire is simple to make, and should ask open-ended questions. Potential questions include:

  • What did our law firm do best?
  • How would you describe your relationship with your lawyer?
  • How would you improve our law firm’s services?
  • Would you hire our law firm again? Why?
  • Would you refer friends and family to us?
  • Would you like a free subscription to our email newsletter?
  • Can we publish your review on our website?

If you want to publish reviews, you must get the client’s permission.

Client Reviews Can Show Strengths and Weaknesses

When you use a client questionnaire, you should analyze the responses, and look for trends.

Internally, these client reviews can be used to highlight a law firm’s strengths and weaknesses. If a staff member is providing exceptional service, it should be recognized and rewarded. Similarly, if clients regularly complain of communication delays (or other problems), you should improve your processes.

Your clients’ experience should always be consistent with your marketing message.

Client Reviews and Website Marketing

Client Reviews and Website Marketing

Again, a well-branded law firm’s reviews will reflect its mission or identity. You can use these reviews to extend your brand.

Prospective clients value reviews. If the reviews are consistent with the law firm’s message, they build trust. So, publish client reviews that express elements of your brand or mission.

For example: A personal injury firm prides itself in both its compassion and fierce representation. These characteristics are the pillars of its marketing message.

On its client review page, the firm has published these comments:

  • “I always knew I could call my lawyer for help. The firm helped me through my darkest hour—and negotiated a great settlement!”
  • “The insurance company couldn’t push my lawyer around. I was in good hands. He never stopped fighting for me.”

These client reviews match the law firm’s message—and are particularly persuasive because they come from clients.

A well-designed law firm website should include published client reviews. Give your prospective clients insight into your firm culture and mission through client reviews.