The Importance of Brand Fans

In 2002, I spent two months working for a client in Australia. I was based in Sydney, but traveled to Brisbane and Adelaide as well. I elected to stay in corporate apartments, which allowed me to cook some of my own meals.

I settled into my new apartment and walked to the nearest shopping center to stock up on groceries. What I didn’t know was how hard it was going to be. The shopping knowledge I developed in the USA was worthless to me in a different country.

Not only were the brand names different, the products were different. There was no skim milk. In Australia, skim milk is called “lite milk.” And to make it that much more confusing, “lite beer” down under refers to alcoholic content, not calorie count. It was going to take some getting used to — and I needed to learn, quickly.

In the grocery store I read every label and tried to figure out the difference between each brand. About halfway through my shopping trip, I realized that I hadn’t been exposed to necessary product education: marketing and branding advertising.

I couldn’t sing or hum the ad jingles; I didn’t know one brand of peanut butter from the other. I didn’t know that Sanitarium was Australia’s biggest brand of cereal and not a kind of hospital. After finishing my first Australian shopping trip, I went back to the apartment and turned on the radio. I began listening to the commercials. There were commercials touting Australia’s favorite coffee, the creamiest yogurt, the freshest tasting milk and the best brand of dishwashing liquid. Those commercials helped…. But wait until you read what happened next.

The next week,  I related my grocery shopping adventure to the people who worked with me and they immediately started telling me about the brands they buy. I found out that the blue-label peanut butter was ok, but the green-label peanut butter was made from Australian peanuts, so it was fresher tasting. These people had been exposed to years and years of branding and marketing advertising, and from their personal experience, they trumpeted their favorite brands to me, a “newbie.”

After two weeks of living and working in Australia, I began to shape my shopping lists around brands that people told me about. I found these “brand fans’ to be a very helpful in shaping my shopping list. Is there something that you can learn from my experience? Absolutely!

The Consumer’s Choice of Atlanta team members are strong believers in the consistent use of branding campaigns, with mediums like radio, TV and billboards, to help improve your top-of-mind position with the Atlanta consumer. In addition to top-of-mind awareness, how your customers describe your business and service to their friends is paramount to your business’ success. Before the days of Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Kudzu and others, this was accomplished by simply sharing a tip over a cup of coffee with your neighbor. Now that the whole world is connected via Social Media, the importance of managing your reputation after your sales execution is as important as your imaging and branding campaign. All aspects of your contact with the customer, before, during and after the sale have to be constantly managed.

The Consumer’s Choice of Atlanta team can help you navigate your brand building and the follow-up so that your business can obtain a large number of brand fans. Simply put, this is what we do every day for all of our clients.

How to Start Marketing Your Local Business…

One of the questions I am asked most by business owners, especially those who do not have any marketing in place, is: “What can I do to bring in leads right away?” They explain to me the need to see a return on investment in whatever marketing they do.

In businesses where I have met owners and asked what works best for them with regards to their marketing, internet marketing is the top source for lead generation, outside of word-of-mouth, of course. This is also true for most of our clients as well (there’s always one or two exceptions). Studies I have read, show around 90% of people go to the internet when they have a need for a product or service.

Where to begin? You want to make sure you have a website that is optimized well/effectively with:

  • current, relevant information
  • clean, easy to navigate look and feel
  • good coding
  • someone/a company doing your SEO (search engine optimization)
  • someone/a company doing your SEM (search engine marketing)

If you do not have these things in place, you are missing opportunities…business. While SEM can be costly, especially if you are in a competitive industry, we liken it to a B12 shot…you feel it right away. It can propel you to the top (or side) of searches. But, it also depends on your spend each month and who you hire (their skill level).

SEO is effective but takes a bit more time. In addition to hiring an SEO expert, you can also do a lot to optimize your site on your own. Consider uploading “how to” or informational videos, blogging and/or making sure as many customer/clients post reviews wherever they can about you (that’s if they were pleased of course!).

A business typically cannot survive on word-of-mouth alone. It is very normal (not necessarily fun though, of course) to fluctuate with a great month and then a not-so-good month in sales when you aren’t doing ANY marketing. It’s just a fact of life and what is. So, if you want to know where you money is best invested (at least for the majority of local businesses out there)…internet marketing! Get on it!