How to use incentives to motivate your customers & grow your brand.
Over the next five sub-sections, I will be posting simple tricks & tips to help you learn simple yet effective ways to brand and grow your business using customer incentives.
In this first section let’s talk a little about the:
Importance of business branding.
One of the most important things you’re going to do as a business owner is create your brand. It is one of the best forms of constant promotion you will ever have in your arsenal. It’s a way to represent what your audience thinks, says, and feels about your products and/or services.
Developing a solid brand
Often, your brand has to be developed over time and is encompassed in not only the physical representation of your business, but also the feeling that develops in people over time when talking about or thinking about your business. There are some do’s and don’ts you should consider when seeking to better your business brand. If you can remember that your brand is really all about your audience, and how you want them to feel than about you, it’ll be a lot easier. Branding is a long-term strategy that you will need to consistently work on.
Before we start the banding process . Open a new document on your computer or using a more traditional method, go and grab a pen or pencil and a pad of paper .
Let’s start the process with:
Creating a Plan of Action
You can’t properly brand your business without giving it a lot of thought in advance. While it may be something that is developed over time, it should not be done without a plan.
Set up a branding guide
To help you and others remember what you want to represent. This can be as simple or complex as you like and can grow in complexity as your business grows. Remember it is your business & your brand.
A simple branding guide for a small business can be laid out as:
logo selection, choice of colours & fonts, uniforms & materials etc. You are better to set-up a basic guideline prior to setting up your social media profiles and establishing your online presence. Put your thoughts, sketches & ideas from your pad and paper into a document.
Congratulations. This document can be used as a simple guide, outlining your email signature, your contact details etc. Even how you answer the telephone can be placed in here etc. At the other extreme, if you run a large business – you need your branding document to be a lot more comprehensive and this would need to cover:
- Staff uniforms.
- Staff interactions, (with customers the do’s and don’ts etc.)
- Supplier interactions.
- Telephone etiquette (how quickly you answer the phone, and the correct greeting to use etc).
This document can grow and evolve with your business, however, the important thing to remember is which ever method you come up with, it must be consistent:
“Your Brand is your business and your business is your brand”.
Build up Your Offline Presence
While your business may be an “online business” today, it’s becoming much more important to market your business offline too. If you truly want to be a brand people remember, (think Amazon) don’t trap yourself into only being an online presence. Use the online tools to build your offline presence. Think Social media and email.
Hand out your business card/flyer/promotional material at every opportunity, have your contact details include your social accounts listed. Make a point of telling your offline prospects to check out your website, Facebook page. I have handed out a business flyer to a business owner, turned round, went and used the toilet and on my return found the business owner on the internet checking out my website before I had even left the premises.
Never underestimate the reach your business has or its potential.
Watch Your Competition
You may be a step or two ahead of your competition, but you may not be. Checking up on how they’re doing things is essential to keeping yourself on track too. You want to do a little better than your competition and stay ahead of the game.
Push Your Comfort Zone
It can be frightening to get your name out there, but you need to. Post articles, guest blog posts, and do interviews. Host webinars and Seminars, and even publish a book. The more you can do to push your brand, the more people will start knowing who you are.
Make connections that matter, both online and offline. Follow up with people you meet. Find creative ways to maintain the connections you make both online and offline. Consider sending a card in the mail, or a copy of an article you think they’ll enjoy.
How to kill your brand!
When it comes to developing a solid brand presence there also a few things you shouldn’t do. Let’s go over a few:
Don’t confuse branding with advertising. In advertising, a certain amount of smoke blowing is acceptable and legal. But, when it comes to branding, you don’t want to do that. You want to tell it like it is.
You need to be yourself and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Lying about how much money you make, or about your experience, or about how well your business is doing is wrong (whether online or offline), and has no place in business.
Avoid Offline Activities
It can be easy to get used to doing everything online if you have an online business. But, you have to remember that tools change. What used to seem like an anonymous adventure is now bringing people together in real life more than ever.
Forget Your Call to Action
If you don’t ask people to take action, they won’t. Most people need to be told what to do next to make that next step. Following these simple do’s and don’ts will help you with your business branding experience. The main take-away is to be yourself, realise it’s about your audience, not you, and that branding is a process that takes some time and will not happen overnight.
Be Crazy on Social Media
You tell your kids that social media is dangerous, and one wrong picture will follow you forever; it’s true. Don’t post pictures of you living it up at that wedding, or hanging from the chandeliers at the office party. Keep your social media G-rated and appropriate for business.
Your brand starts with a simple idea. Your brand will incorporate a lot of your personality (from favourite colours, & text fonts to your standards.) Customer branding done correctly can lead to a lifetime of sales and customer recommendations (priceless).
Customer Branding is hard one but easily lost.
In this segment, we are going to go over a few inexpensive ways to brand and grow your business with promotional materials.
Using business promotion materials is a pretty old school way to promote a business. It has been used for decades because it actually works. In the trade they are called business premiums. Some of the materials you will use within your business, such as envelopes, stationary, jump drives, mugs and even staplers, but others you can give to clients to use so that they don’t forget about you.
Getting branded envelopes isn’t much more expensive than getting regular envelopes, but when you send out mail, it will make a difference when they see your branding on that envelope to whether they open the mail or not.
T-Shirts or Clothing
While wearable items can be risky business due to different styles and sizes, for some businesses this is a perfect way to promote their business. If you have a food-related business, or casual business, you may find hats, aprons, oven mitts or something like that useful as a marketing tool.
Even if people don’t drink coffee, a branded mug is something they generally appreciate because they can use it for a number of things – even as paperclip holder if they want to. A lot of people even collect mugs.
Everyone uses mouse pads, so they make a great way to promote your brand. The people using it will see your logo on a daily basis and think of you. Having your business on the top of their mind, even if subconsciously, is a huge win.
USB Flash Drives
If you have a tech business, give a branded USB drive with some marketing material or something interesting on it (which is erasable so they can still use the stick). It’s a great way to get something useful that’s also inexpensive.
This might not seem inexpensive, but you can find local charities to support that don’t cost much to sponsor but that will get your name out into the community – and perhaps even on a speaker’s list. Usually they’ll take your brochures, flyers and other premiums as well to give out to people.
Freebies and Giveaways
Many clubs need freebies and giveaways as prizes for games. Why not donate some of your unused premiums to them for that. College clubs are great starts for this. Look at the club that most matches your business.
It may cost a lot less than you think to advertise locally. You can get a radio spot or a mention on your local PBS station with a relatively low sponsorship rate. To see if it works, have them go to a website to sign up to get a free premium of some kind. You can make all kinds of promotional materials work for your business.
It doesn’t matter if your business is online or offline today.
Most consumers expect to get more for their money today than ever before.
If you seek to over deliver, and surprise them with something no one else is doing, you’ll win their business.
Branding using Premiums
People use them, wear them, or give them away, while spreading the word about your business. They can be used in numerous ways from sponsorship’s, to surprise inclusions with a purchase.
Here are a few quick and easy examples of Premiums you can implement for Free or at very low cost:
Expand Brand Recognition
Having people wear and use merchandise with your logo on it will increase the number of people who notice your brand. When a friend has on a hat with your logo on it, other people may check out your business and even buy something.
TV advertising can be expensive, but promotional products aren’t that expensive when you consider the benefits. You can sponsor a sports team inexpensively and all the parents will see your business logo every game. It will keep you at the top of their mind.
Great Business Card Replacements
If you really want to stand out at your next event, instead of handing out business cards, hand out key chains, book marks, t-shirts, hats, balls, bumper stickers, or USB drives. People will remember you because you’ll likely be the only one doing it.
People like Touching Something
In today’s digital world, getting something that can be touched is a revelation. It feels good to touch something that’s real instead of only looking at digital things.
USB Flash Drives
If you have a tech business, give a branded USB drive with some marketing material or something interesting on it (which is erasable so they can still use the stick). It’s a great way to get something useful that’s also inexpensive. Better still add your business logo & details to the outside of the USB Stick.
Consumers Keep Promotional Materials
When you give usable and targeted items to your audience, they will keep them and use them. This means that they will see the products and logos maybe even daily, keeping you at the top of their mind.
Consumer Brand Impression Improves
When you have merchandise with your logo on it to give away or even for purchase, consumers think more highly of your brand. Think of all the branded items that you buy yourself.
Improves Sales When Combined with checkout
Encourage sales by adding a promotional item when a certain dollar amount has been reached on a particular purchase. You can use a point system or a dollar system.
Increase Customer Loyalty
Premiums given as surprises or earned by making a certain amount of purchases can greatly increase consumer devotion. They feel special when you give them an extra gift. The benefits of using promotional materials are almost immeasurable. Small businesses usually cannot afford TV ads, and need to find other ways to get their message out. T-shirts, bumper stickers, window clings and more offers the business another way to accomplish brand recognition and increase sales.
Lots of Products to Offer
Today, due to less expensive manufacturing practices, you can get almost any type of product with your logo on it. You can brand everything from clothing to electronics.
Use your imagination to expand your brand recognition. Take every opportunity to advertise your business. You never know where that loyal customer is. If you seek to over deliver, and surprise them with something no one else is doing, you’ll win their business.
How To Grab your Customers Attention on a Budget
As we have been discussing earlier in this post, whether you run an online or an offline business, promotional materials can be wonderful incentives for your customers. Plus, they are a good way to market your business in a fun and interactive way. What’s more, in some cases you can give away items as incentives and appreciation but you can also sell them and give them away as prizes.
Items like calendars, pens, whiteboards, mugs, mouse pads, loyalty cards, gift certifications, portable USB chargers, t-shirts and more are all good things to give to customers to show your appreciation. A really good example of a customer appreciation gift is the recipe sharing site Justapinch.com. After you’ve been a member for a while, they send you a chef’s apron with their logo on it. It’s good quality apron that any one would be proud to own.
8 ideas to help get your creative juices flowing
Send Out Cards.
There are a lot of services like this now, but this is probably one of the first. You can set it up so they automatically send out cards to your subscriber list through the mail. This is an excellent idea for one-on-one coaching programs, group coaching and small inner circles. Getting a branded birthday card will make them feel special and appreciated.
People love wearing interesting t-shirts with clever sayings. If your business is the type of business that this will work for, try sending new members, or clients who order over a certain amount, a free t-shirt as a thank you.
These are excellent for service-based businesses to give to clients who have referred you to a paying client. Then they can buy some of your services or use the gift certificate to cut their normal bill. You’re still making money because you only send this out when you get paid by the new client they referred.
Pens and Pads.
Do you have a writing inner circle? While most people write on their computers today, if people are paying good money for a membership and maintain it for six months or a year, send them a thank you gift like a pen and pad set to encourage more writing.
As I mentioned earlier flash drives are a great incentive. You can use them in place of business cards to hand out to people at networking events. Put something on the Custom USB so that when they plug it in to their device they learn more about your business. This way whenever they use it they will remember you.
If you keep track of what your clients like, you can quickly determine what type of gift card they’d like. You can send these with a personalised card and message so that they remember who gave it.
Are you a VA or a life coach? If so, what better gift to give than a customised calendar? Instead of random images you can also use quotes, tips and motivational information that helps your client each time they look at it.
When you’ve had a client or customer for a long time, you want to recognise that. A great way to do that is to give them a special loyalty card that entitles them to earn points toward freebies or bonus items that you’ve already picked out. Credit card companies aren’t the only ones who can do this.
The trick is to pick something that your audience will enjoy or find useful. You can make them smile, think fondly of you, or you can make them thankful for you each time they use the item you send. Both are good choices for any business that wants to put their customers first.
branding and marketing
You want to promote your business but you also want to ensure that the items you offer are a reflection of what your brand represents to the consumer.
As we have been discussing using promotional materials to grow your business is a very effective means of branding. Some might say it’s a combination of branding and marketing. You want to promote your business but you also want to ensure that the items you offer are a reflection of what your brand represents to the consumer.
Here are a few final ideas to help get your creative juices flowing:
Buy Quality Merchandise
Unless you want to project “cheap” to your customers, don’t buy cheap stuff. You don’t want them to throw it away; you want them to get use out of it for a long time so that they think of you when they do.
Make It Targeted
If your audience consists of pet lovers, make sure the items represent the knowledge that they love pets. Pet toys, pet clothing, and t-shirts representing their love of all things pets will go far. Similarly, if they love technology, you want to ensure your promotional merchandise reflects their love of tech.
Make It Usable
You want them to use the item that you’re giving away. Otherwise it’s just a waste of money. This means that you need to know what types of things they need or will use. Will they use a magnetised refrigerator frame or pad for a list?
Work with a Consultant
There are consultants who work with the companies that sell promotional materials or premiums. The consultants can help you figure out what your audience will enjoy receiving and also how to get them at the best price for the quality that you want.
A good way to use premiums is to sponsor a child’s sports team or an event. This is a great way to get your name out there into the community and an excellent use for promotional materials.
One thing that a lot of businesses don’t think about is giving their customers experiences along with things. For example, give them a shopping spree and t-shirts to wear while on the spree.
Don’t Go by Price Only
The biggest mistake people do when buying promotional materials is think there is a free ride. If you pick the cheapest priced items, you’ll get things that you cannot even use and that no one else wants to use either
Consider Customer Loyalty Programs
A good use of promotional merchandise is within a customer loyalty program. Let them use points earned by their participation, or expenditures for promotional merchandise like t-shirts.
When you have a long-term customer who has an anniversary, birthday or other life event, surprise them with a commemorative item of value that has your logo and information on it.
Bottom line customer incentives are a great way to brand and grow your business as well as become recognised as a reputable and generous business in your industry so why not use them!
I hope you have found this post both informative and useful and that you now have a better understanding of what’s involved in using this marketing strategy.
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