You are more of your brand than you know
What are people buying when they buy your product or service?
You could offer the best product or service in the world, at a price they like, but if they don’t think they can do business with you, they won’t.
Today, deciding not to use you is easier than ever because we are all overwhelmed with choice. The days of one butcher, one grocer and one fishmonger monopolising trade in a small town are long gone. Convenience has taken over. Supermarkets have replaced the butcher, the baker and probably the candlestick maker, and they are all competing to be the supplier who delivers directly to your door. We’ve become almost allergic to putting effort into shopping. Visiting shops has become a social event or a ‘day out’, it is no longer a necessity. If you want a new t-shirt, there are thousands available online in a wide range of colours and designs and choosing between them requires nothing more than scrolling through them while you watch Gogglebox.
So, the question is, how do you stand out from the crowd?
Whatever your product or service, what makes the difference is you – you are your brand!
Over the years, we’ve worked with many different people, experts in their fields, but what we’ve noticed is that the difference between them and the competition is their ability to represent and sell themselves.
So, what can you sell?
1) Knowledge. What do you know that your potential client doesn’t, and can you get that knowledge across in a way that inspires trust and confidence?
As a client, you don’t want to work with someone if you either can’t understand or, worse, don’t trust that they understand what they are saying.
Confidence in knowledge is a powerful selling point. I’ve worked with my accountants, Holland Harper LLP in Battle, East Sussex, for a number of years. What I like about them is that they are always ready to answer my questions but, perhaps more importantly, they answer them in a way that I understand and trust. It is clear they are knowledgeable, but that knowledge isn’t wrapped in a complexity that is off-putting.
2) Authenticity. Your customers don’t necessarily know it or even seek it out, but everyone responds positively to authenticity.
Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm is a case in point. The ‘face’ of the business is the owner, Clive Collins. In terms of public relations, he is perfect – interesting back story, proven history of success over 25+ years, and he is clearly knowledgeable about his subject. But what really brings value to his business in PR terms is his authenticity. He genuinely knows what he is talking about, and he is authentically passionate about it.
This translates very well to customers, but it also plays well with the media. It comes across clearly in interviews, which is why he is often called to appear on TV and radio.
Authenticity is something we look for in every business we work with.
3) USP. What is your unique selling point (USP)? Others may have a similar product, but what makes you special?
If you think about the products you buy, there is often something that makes you add one particular product to the online basket over another. It might be brand recognition, good delivery and returns policies, or you might simply think they are a business that aligns with your values.
We’ve been working with The English Soap Company for a number of years, mostly on awards entries. They have proved to be very successful at these, as they also are in business. Part of this success comes down to the fact people see their authenticity, but they also know these products are unique – it’s a family-run business that makes soap in the traditional way. Traditional, family-run businesses align with the values of a growing number of consumers. They also offer unique tie-ins, for example, the Kew Gardens Essential Hand Care Sets they launched before Christmas.
The key to success is to identify these factors in yourself and your business and then find an effective way to promote them in a way that reaches potential customers.
Not everyone can be on TV or radio, so you’ve got to find your niche. It could be networking, writing a column in a local newspaper or presenting business awards. The important thing is to represent yourself honestly and positively.
One place you can definitely control is your website. Your front page must clearly demonstrate your USP, authenticity and knowledge. Don’t make it boring, that’s off-putting, but do make sure it is written from the perspective of what you represent. Your personality, your brand must inform every aspect of your website.
After all, it is you that will sell your product or service, so make sure you represent yourself correctly.