With increased competition and information overload vying for a limited amount of customer attention, branding is never an easy thing to do. No matter what your business or industry, your branding or re-branding efforts will be more successful if you can confidently make it easy for customers to have a positive first experience devoid of fear and friction.
Take Drew Levin and Danny Perkins, for example. Like most entrepreneurs, they have had to reinvent and re-brand themselves more than once over the last few years. Their journey, as reported in a Forbes.com article, began with the partners fixing up properties and hanging onto them long-term. This business model required a certain amount of branding in their local real estate market.
Next, they were tapped by HGTV for the series, Renovate to Rent. This was an expansion of the brand for a national TV audience. Now, Levin and Perkins are re-branding around a whole new concept, SnapFlip, which is the opposite of the buy-and-hold strategy because it involves finding and quickly selling properties without any renovation at all. More re-branding required.
The following are four principles they shared that could help any business going through the branding or re-branding process:
1) Help Customers Have Their First Amazing Brand Experience
New brands come with inherently low trust levels, so getting customers to experience your offering for the first time is a critical branding exercise (see related article, Here's a Wildly Successful Formula for Disruption You Can Implement Today). Nothing happens without the first round of customer experiences. No revenue. No feedback. No testimonials. No innovation. "We have learned how important and difficult it is to get early adopters on board," notes Levin. "But you have to make it the main focus of your launch strategy, so we decided to offer free seminars as a way to introduce this new concept." You may not need to create this level of awareness in order to launch a new brand, but it will require a concentrated effort to influence enough new customers to reach critical mass.
2) Overcome the Emotional Barrier of Fear
Nobody wants to be the first to try something new. Prospects are naturally cautious, and fear can be a strong influence to do nothing. Fear of failure, looking bad or wasting money will, more often than not, kill a new venture before it can even get started. Perkins talks about how to overcome fear. "We've found that knowledge is power when prospects are looking at trying something new. And power trumps fear. So, we put a lot of emphasis on transferring as much knowledge as possible, as soon as possible, to our would-be customers," Perkins said. Your business could implement this knowledge-is-power approach by offering content marketing, user testimonials, a money-back guarantee and coaching as ways to alleviate inevitable fears associated with your new offering.
3) Stick to What You Know
Confidence is a primary factor in almost any business relationship. That is true in two ways: Confidence on the part of a business to sell, and on the part of customers to buy. In Levin and Perkin's case, although SnapFlip is a new concept and brand, it is in the real estate investment space. This keeps it well within their expertise, having amassed over 100 properties since they began working together in 2012. Confidence comes as a result of several factors, including past deals done, customers served, industry experience gained, revenues received and satisfaction scores recorded. But mainly, confidence to sell comes from sticking to what you know. Rather than making a sharp left turn and offering something completely different and unknown, entrepreneurs would be wise to stay within the lanes of their expertise.
4) Make it Easy
How difficult is it to buy from your company? What are the friction points, bottlenecks and frustrations in the customer experience? Finding and fixing the processes that may be sending customers to your competition should be the first order of business after initiating any launch effort. As an example, Perkins and Levin quickly realized that the main sticking point for their new customers was the lack of cash to invest. To make their program as user-friendly as possible, they had to find a way for their program to work without requiring cash to purchase real estate. Once they accomplished that, they eliminated the biggest barrier to entry for their prospects. What's your biggest entry barrier? Have you talked with prospects and customers to learn what's keeping them from engaging with your company? The only meaningful source of this crucial information comes directly from your market. Don't make the mistake of sitting around your conference table with your leadership team to determine why your customers buy or don't buy from you.
No matter what your business or industry, your branding or re-branding efforts will be more successful if you can confidently make it easy for customers to have a positive first experience devoid of fear and friction.