Archive for February, 2009

Online Branding: Finding Your Core Customers

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Branding is, simply put, the process of differentiating yourself in the marketplace. It is also how you create a connection between yourself and your customers. The goal is to build customer loyalty. Successful branding goes beyond customer satisfaction and strives to build the customer’s trust and thus win their loyalty.

The rise of the World Wide Web has transformed branding for both small and large businesses. The World Wide Web can reach large numbers of people at a relatively miniscule cost to the website owner. Today, there is no better, more effective tool in branding than an online presence. Here are some tips for enhancing your brand online.

The first thing your website must do, is strive to be relevant and engaging. Visitors to your site aren’t likely to be that interested in your company’s org chart. They aren’t interested in your crowing about your company’s virtues, your market position, or how successful your company is. Rather than focusing on your company, your bio or your personnel, you must identify who your customers are, and think about providing them with an experience that will be satisfying to them.

Knowing whom your customers are, is vital. Do your homework! Movie studios don’t make a film without knowing whose “butts are in the seats.” Consider the “Lord of the Rings” movies from a film studio’s point of view. Here is a story that has taken many, many millions of dollars to put on the screen. It’s a big risk, making a special effects laden movie like this. Further, it’s made up of three very, very long movies. Both of these things add up to a tremendous risk for a movie studio. Furthermore, in order to make the movie right, you have to shoot all three segments at one time, or the actors will age too much between shoots, and this will hurt your movie’s chances by distracting audiences.

It was a massive risk. What made them decide to go ahead with it? The key component was the strength of the Lord of the Rings brand. Lord of the Rings has been around since World War Two, and has a large and loyal following. The books have been best sellers for decades, and they hare books that many loyal fans read over and over. Furthermore, the genre that the books represent (and helped invent) has many diehard fans all over the world. In other words, the producers were betting on a brand that was already strong. Big risk? Hardly. Rarely has there been more of a sure thing in the movie business.

The moral of the story is this: know what type of people your core customers should be, and make sure your research shows that they exist in significant enough numbers to sustain your business. Know whose butts are going to be in your seats! Once you know who they are, you can view branding between you and the type of people you will draw your customers from. You may then broaden from your base, but without a base, without targeting whom your core customers should be, don’t expect broad appeal.