By Jason Wilton
You are not alone out there. Your customers have several, even hundreds, of potential snow providers in their service area. This poses a problem for the lesser-known companies since studies have shown that a bigger company with a history will take favor over a lesser-known or new company. This isn’t necessarily because they do the work any better, or that they operate any leaner than you. It is because your customer has seen them before. Their brand stood out.
To get your foot in the door, so to speak, companies need that initial opportunity to show potential customers what their professional snow & ice company can do. The points below will discuss keys to success in getting your brand to outshine the competition.
Know your competitors inside and out. A competitive analysis is crucial when you are looking to brand, or rebrand, your business. You need to know in detail what they are doing to attract customers and what they are doing to take business away from you. Get to know their marketing, logos, outward appearance and find out what you have that they don’t. This is the first step to knowing how you will stand out in your market.
Identify a unique look and feel for your brand. Doing so will make your company more apt to generate a double-take from prospects. Make sure that the graphics, colors and design of your external branding is unique from each of your competitors. This is applicable in your company name as well. Make sure that you are unique and cannot be confused with your competitors.
Make an impression. By this point you have identified what your competitors are doing to increase their bottom line, and you have appropriately adjusted your marketing material, company logo, name and communications to be different. It has been said that it takes more than 10 impressions (emails, phone calls, direct mail, drive-by views, commercials, radio messaging) for your customers to truly remember you and to connect with your business. Make sure your advertising and outward branding campaigns are consistent, repetitive and long term. How you use your logo, taglines and marketing material is a direct reflection of how you run your business. Customers will subconsciously understand your consistent image as reliable and predictable. The longer you are consistent, the more reliable you are perceived to be.
Build a rock-solid reputation. Honesty in your brand identity materials will showcase the reputation you have built in the marketplace. Before you start branding, make sure you can stand behind promises that you make in your materials. If you don’t, you risk your customers feeling let down or wondering whether you can be trusted. This can damage relationships and undermine your efforts to build a brand that stands out.
Put your best face forward. Companies tell their customers how professional they are, yet there is often a gap in what they say and how they really look. From the quality of the graphics, to the style of font and colors you use, to how you write your correspondence, show your customers that you mean business with a professional outward presentation plan.
Professionalism in customer service and branding will give you a major edge over your competition - one that will positively enhance your bottom line.
Jason Wilton is former marketing manager and national account manager for Clintar Landscape Management.