I know some people get a little uncomfortable with the word ‘brand.’ It sounds to them like an advertising term, like it’s all about the slickness and the sizzle and not about the sincerity and the substance. But if you stop looking at ‘brand’ as superficial window dressing but instead see it as specifically defining your company’s mission and making a clear case to fulfill various promises, then you see that having a well-defined brand is not dodge at all, but rather an act of integrity.
I know that contractors are people of integrity and substance, who are proud of delivering tangible products and services that improve the spaces where people live and work. I myself spent decades as a professional in that industry. I want contractors to embrace branding as a necessary part of having a respected and successful business, but also as a tool for defining and being held accountable to genuine, deliverable quality, not as a way of avoiding it.
Whatever brand you may think you are generating and spreading out there, your brand is being created every time someone tells a friend or associate about your business. In this day and age that could take the form of a tweet, status update, YouTube video, blog post, text, email or website comment. The consumer has great power these days when it comes to defining your brand, far more than they used to. Which is why it is important for you to get out ahead of the pack when it comes to defining your own brand before others start doing it for you. And that means coming up with a list of unique and powerful deliverables that you then back up with the quality of your products and services.
1. Promises, Promises!
We all like to be promised something great. But we equally become depressed and angry when those promises are broken and we’re let down. Your brand promise is your absolute foundation. It is the cornerstone of everything you do as a business and it is the condensed message that first catches the customer’s eyes and ears. Make it catchy, make it attractive, and make it distinct, but most important, make it real!
If your brand promise includes “We sell you the best windows!”, then you better make sure your windows fit perfectly, keep out the weather and don’t easily break. If you declare: “On time and on budget!” then you need to work with all of your employees to enforce that your people are prompt and on schedule and realistic when it comes to estimating and budgeting jobs. Companies that deliver on their brand promise skyrocket to success. Companies that make empty, cynical false promises will reap a whirlwind of negative word of mouth. People find out- so have them find out how your company keeps its word!
2. Everybody On Deck
How depressing is it to go to a restaurant where you know that the owner genuinely loves the idea of making the highest quality cuisine in an upbeat, customer satisfaction-oriented environment, only to see floor-level employees who are rude, careless, sloppy, poorly groomed and contemptuous of the food they are making and serving? It wouldn’t instill feelings of comfort and assurance, would it? It’s more like a recipe for indigestion and resentment. The idealistic dream of the owner or even the general manager becomes pretty irrelevant when the army of employees below them don’t care in the least about vigorously delivering on the brand promise.
A successful business needs to be like a lean, mean sailing ship. Every individual on that ship, from the captain to the men on the rigging to the guy swabbing the deck, need to be focused and directed toward moving that vessel in the same direction, toward a worthy goal. You can’t have dead weight or people pushing their oars against the water, slowing down the ship. From your top management down through your accounting, sales and operations to your assistants and receptionists, you need everyone completely bought in on the company’s brand promise and living it every day. If they’re not, you seriously need to either re-train them or get a new group of employees.
3. Understanding Branding
Advertising and marketing are fine components of a successful company, but they alone do not a good business make. In fact, if your company becomes obsessed with having the most persuasive, cutting-edge advertising at the expense of delivering on a solid brand promise, then you will be creating hype, not value. And hype gets found out, and not in a good way. Your strong brand promise is backed up by impeccable service and fantastic leadership.
4. More Than They Expected Is Just The Right Amount
Why deliver when you can over deliver? Going above and beyond customer expectations turns some customers into brand evangelists, people who take it upon themselves, in a passionate and personal way, to expound upon the quality and excellence your company delivers. They root for your success and actively help spread the word. They “shout if from the rooftops,” so to speak, and that’s probably because you did such a great with their new roof. At every point of customer engagement, don’t just ensure total customer satisfaction, aim to make them ecstatic. This is how to build a brand that is undeniable.
5. What Was The Original Inspiration?
When you started your business, there had to be a spark of inspiration, an idea of delivering something uniquely great to customers, of making people happy and using your God-given abilities to create value and excellence. It wasn’t just about money. If that was the case you could have methodically bought lottery tickets or put all your energy into collecting recyclables.
People love to do what they’re good at and they love to be recognized by the people who benefit from their skills. Always remember your passionate spirit for the products and service that defines your brand promise. A purpose is more than just profit, it’s about relationships and improving the world. Never lose the real you that got into this business in the first place, replacing it with a slick facade or persona. Customers are attracted to the passionate, honest provider of goods and services that started this company years ago. In a nutshell, you can learn and evolve but you have to continue to be you.
To work on getting back to your core brand, check out our coaching memberships at www.contractorselling.com. Individual plans start at just $89/month and include one-on-one sales and marketing coach from yours truly.