Spring is here and traditionally a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. This can mean moving into a new house, starting a new job or renewing and revitalising your brand.
The last 12 months have been tough on businesses, but very soon, non-essential retailers will be operating again and cash registers will ring out in shops, pubs and salons across the country. Building a strong brand is a great way to stand out and drive people to your door on reopening day.
Why your brand matters right now
Your brand isn’t just what you sell, though that certainly plays a part. It’s everything your name means in the minds of anyone familiar with your business, and the value stored in your business’s distinct identity in the marketplace. All these weaken during periods of business inactivity so halting your marketing efforts can hurt your chances of a strong recovery.
In tough times, businesses with the most pronounced, singular brand identities – specifically, those who ‘keep the lights on’ and continue advertising through a downturn – see sales recover faster than those without. In fact, strong brands recovered 9x faster following the 2008 financial crisis, according to Kantar. But establishing that kind of presence in people’s minds is an art in itself. To effectively build your brand, you need to have some clear objectives in mind.
Making sales may seem like the main aim, and we won’t understate its importance. But it’s one that you can only get to after you’ve successfully tackled several vital preliminary goals. These goals come in stages that map onto the typical process by which prospects become customers. Taken together, they form a shape that marketers call ‘the marketing funnel’, incorporating 4 key stages:
In this article, we’ll be focusing on hitting the first 3 stages – cultivating new potential customers and getting them into a purchase-ready mindset. This is all about building a highly visible brand that elicits positive associations in the minds of those familiar with it. Let’s go through these stages in order.
After a lengthy spell of inactivity or operating under restrictions, you might not be at the front of people’s minds anymore. That doesn’t mean your target customer base has completely forgotten about you, just that they need a bit of a reminder.
Luckily, that’s more than doable, whatever your budget. You just need to get your message out to the right people on a wide range of channels. The name of the game is to build recognition of all the components of your company’s outward presentation. This includes your name, your logo, your slogan, your visual language and your tone of voice.
To rebuild your brand’s standing, you need to hit the spaces that your target audience spend their time with ads that coherently showcase all these components. A display advertising campaign with a heavy presence on popular local newspapers, websites, and even audio podcast ads, will quickly reintroduce your brand to an engaged and relevant readership.
Awareness is the easy part. Once you’ve told people about your business, you need to convince them that they should consider coming to it. This means you have to spend time on getting your messaging right, but before that, it also requires you to think about your choice of advertising channel.
In this intensely multi-channel, digital world, your choice of channel medium dictates your audience. Want to reach an affluent audience of over-45s? Local news, in print and online, is your best bet. Trying to strengthen your appeal to a younger niche? Get advertising on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
People will ultimately pay more attention to the content of your advertising message if it appears on the platforms they feel the greatest affinity to – which is why local publications are such an effective place to start.
Not sure which platform is right for your business? Download our in-depth guide to choosing the right advertising format here.
The pandemic has inspired more and more people to shop locally, with 94% of our own readers eager to get out there and support local businesses. Despite this, there are many people still understandably anxious about the risks of being out in public. You might have grabbed their attention with an eye-catching display campaign and whetted their appetites with well-crafted messaging, but if they think you’re unsafe to visit, then there’s no chance they’ll choose you over your nearest competitor.
There’s an easy solution here – you can use your advertising to reassure health-conscious customers about all the precautionary measures you’ve put in place. This doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) dominate your message; it’s simply a case of reminding customers that you’ve installed hand sanitiser stations, or have reorganised your shop floor to facilitate social distancing.
But there are other ways you can make yourself people’s natural choice of business that are less about advertising and more about building links with your community. Hosting an in-store event may not be advised just yet, but virtual events like community quizzes, or even fundraising drives for local causes, will still help you rebuild a valuable reputation as a truly local brand. There’s nothing more attractive to local customers than a business engaged with the causes that matter to them and their community.
Rebuilding after COVID-19
This may be a tough time for businesses of all sectors, but the strength of your recovery will depend a large part on the strength of your brand.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel as the high street reopens, so it’s important you get the right message out as quickly as possible. Rebuilding your brand is the best way to come out of this pandemic stronger than ever, while making a meaningful impression on your local community. Contact our marketing experts today to find out how our advertising solutions can help you do this.