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How to get your brand working for you

Your brand is one of your most valuable assets, says, Carrie Bendall of Inspire Marketing & Design, and if you get it working for you – offline and online – it can be an incredibly powerful business tool

Your brand has always been critical to your success but in this online world it has become vital to get your branding and core message right. You only have a few minutes, perhaps seconds to influence online. The hot prospect keys in your name or maybe the name of your firm and what do they find? Your website is your shop window, your billboard, your chance to engage with the viewer straight away. That hot prospect should be rewarded with the knowledge that they are in the right place.

Developing a strong brand

The first step is the hardest. This is the recognition that your brand is one of your most valuable assets. It needs just as much attention as you’ve given to all other aspects of your business. You need to love it, nurture it, protect it, invest in it and get it working hard for you.

The second step is to understand that it is
more than a logo and a website. Your brand is
what brings your business strategy to life. It’s the combination of a range of experiences spanning every point that a prospect and client comes into contact with you. It’s your personality, your values, the way you behave, the way you dress and engage with each of your audiences offline and online.

The next step is to be quite critical. You may love the way you look and feel but you are not the one you are selling to. What do your clients think? How do you want them to feel when they come into con- tact with you? These are questions you can answer only when you’ve taken a look at yourself through you clients’ eyes – an outside looking in approach.

Outside in

Make a list of all your possible client touch points with three columns next to them for measurement: not good/good enough/wow! love it.

Start where your prospect would start. Google yourself. Just your firm’s name and your name. Save financial planner in your part of the UK for
a different time. That’s another story. Click on your website and weigh up how your prospect and clients might feel when they visit your site. You need to remember that they may be doing this on a phone or tablet.

Now it’s time to get a breath of fresh air. Transport yourself out of your office and walk
back in looking at everything as if you are a very wealthy potential new client:
• Car park, entrance, sign
• Your reception, your receptionist, the welcome, the serving of tea, coffee, water
• Your meeting room, offices, wash rooms
• Technology
• Stationery, business card.

Now your client engagement process:
• First contact
• Pre meeting materials
• First meeting
• Ongoing contact
• Provision of regular, additional, useful information
• Reflect on the number of times you touch your clients throughout the year
• The quality of this contact, review meeting, events, calls.

Finally, you need to look at everything together. Is it consistent? How well does it reflect the business you have created? Have you made it easy for clients to refer you? Your clients will be shopping in smart places, visiting high quality websites. How do you compare? Can you measure what people do when they visit your site and how long they take to look around?

Wow! Or just mediocre

You need to be stopping your target audiences in their tracks. Getting them to pause on your website. Engaging them with what you have to offer. Your brand and all of its constituent parts is one of your sharpest sales tools. One visit to a website can
turn off as quickly as it can turn on. It can also help you to shorten the sales cycle. Even a wow! Score shouldn’t stop you doing more. Remember your brand is your business strategy coming to life. It should be alive and dynamic. A quick look at some of the best brands in the world will show you how they evolve and develop over time.

Creating wow!

Now you’ve completed your own self-critical audit you probably have an action list. These actions are all very well but brands take time to create. Remember your brand is about bringing your business strategy to life. It needs to support what you are trying to achieve with your business. More questions need asking:

• Where do you want to be in one, two, five, ten years’ time?
• How many new clients do you need each month, each year?
• How are you going to get these clients?
• What do you have that makes you truly different?

It’s also time to ask your clients what they think. It’s very important to do this before embarking
on any branding or re-branding exercise. Not only will loyal, happy clients be delighted to support you in any way they can, they can also give you some interesting insights. This exercise shouldn’t be about quantity but about quality. This isn’t a client satisfaction or testimonial generating exercise although these are good too. This is about capturing emotions and ideas to define the creative process.

So often you think you are selling wealth management, estate planning, help with long-
term care but rarely do your clients describe these service in this way. They are more likely to come up with comments that help define your personality, describe your service in terms of their experience with you and how they feel now. “It’s like having an umbrella over my head.” Handled cleverly this client exercise can help you with business and service development. What needs can they foresee? How easy do they find it to recommend you? Depending on the size of your business, 10 to 20 clients will do.

Expert eyes

I’m hoping that when you’ve been on your voyage, re-discovering your business, you arrive at the
 end of your journey inspired with a vision to turn into action. Then it’s time to bring in the brand experts, those with external, experienced eyes that can quickly get to the heart of what your business needs and guide you through the processes to help you develop and evolve a successful brand.

If you’ve done your brand audit properly, you will have a great brief.

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