At the most simplistic level, it essentially starts with a widget. How do you take said widget and make it attractive enough to sell and move an adequate amount to create a sustainable business? It starts with marketing. Sure, this may be minimizing it just a bit, but if you take that concept and relate it on a personal level, every contractor is his/her brand. And, let’s face it, there are a good number of contractors that lack the business and marketing skills to complement their excellent technical aptitude. The service industry is crowded, and everyone is competing for the same customer, so it is important to develop and cultivate a brand that sets you apart from everyone else, while keeping an eye on the competition as well.
With so much competition these days, says Ripley, a memorable brand is crucial for any type of service business. “Not only does the brand physically represent a company with colors and a unique logo, the brand should help tell a consumer what the company does,” says Ripley.
“A brand isn’t as valuable as you might think, but becoming the brand will be a game changer,” says Ellen Rohr, president, ZOOM DRAIN Franchise, LLC, a company that offers franchise opportunities across the US. Operating in 20 locations, franchisee partners clear and repair drain and sewer systems, using best-in-class manuals, comprehensive training programs and the support of an experienced franchise team.
“According to The Wizard of Ads, a book by Roy Williams, your identity is your brand, and your identity consists of your name, logo and message. At ZOOM DRAIN we have obsessed over this, and built a world class brand. A winning brand leverages every marketing dollar you spend,” says Rohr.
Brands that include positive-embedded associations are on a faster track to better success. “Our name ZOOM is the sound a drain makes when it's clearing. It's easy to spell and fun to say. And it ties in to our message, our promise, to our customers: Fast. Focused. Fixed. Our logo is a visual representation of flowing and going. ZOOOOOOM!”
The Digital Age
Whether you are publishing a blog or printing marketing materials for a local event, your brand should be visibly present. If part of your brand identity is delivering excellent services to customers, then it is important to ensure each employee exemplifies that type of behavior.
Having a professional manage your social media communications is also critical to building a solid brand. “We recommend our clients use a combination of original blogs, press releases and other company news to fully engage with their target audiences. Sharing positive news on a social media site helps companies reach a wider audience in the digital space and helps build momentum for the brand. Social media can also give insight into how customers view a company, allowing for adjustments to be made to the content or a marketing message,” says Ripley.
A Brand Broken
All business owners should plan for a crisis, because it’s really not if something happens, it’s when. But just because something bad happens doesn’t mean it will necessarily reach the media.
And that’s where strong PR plays an important part of the branding process. According to Ripley, most companies don’t realize the value or proactive PR in taking their brand to the next level of awareness. Including a solid public relations strategy into your marketing is a great way to stand out from your competitors.
“We work with clients to prepare for various scenarios, so that when something happens, they’re ready to respond calmly,” says Ripley. With that said, there are certain ways a business owner can rebuild a damaged brand. “We recommend that our clients first find out what happened. Was it human error or a mistake? Do you have processes in place to prevent it from happening again? Unless it’s potentially a legal situation, we recommend our clients tell the truth and tell it quickly,” continues Ripley.
A strong, memorable brand—something that is impossible to forget—can present multiple opportunities for a contractor and the business. If a company performs consistently excellent work and gives customers a great experience, over time you can build your name as a trustworthy, stable company. “Being consistent in your message and brand is paramount. It’s the consistency that helps build a lasting legacy and identity for the brand,” says Ripley
In the end, it’s about the continuous bolstering and cultivating of your brand. According to Rohr, you don’t grow without learning the marketing basics. And, “If you think you have marketing nailed, you’re going to get your butt handed to you,” says Rohr.