I was introduced to eBay in 1999. eBay has had their ups and downs...but, if it wasn't for eBay, I would not be in e-commerce today. eBay pushed us in the early days to develop a business, have a website, and, focus on customer service. Because of eBay, my company is a brand, a niche, or, a recognized small business.
If you want to grow your business it is important to develop brand customer loyalty. In developing customer loyalty, you also develop a business branding. I want to share a few tips with you that I have learned over the years from eBay in developing your business into a brand. I have also taken several business and marketing classes over the years and have taken from those classes what I thought would work for me and applied that knowledge to my business.
Branding can target your name/personality, business name, logo, tagline, customer service, product or inventory line. Branding is what the room remembers after your marketing campaign has left the room. Branding is consistency and seeing the same "message" in many different areas. You need to decide what is important to your business in wanting to be known as a brand.
Over the years, I have gone many places and someone would come up to me and say something like, "You are The Crabby Nook? I love The Crabby Nook! I have bought from your store." When you start hearing this consistently, you know that your brand is working. But, you know that you have really made it when you purchase a car and sign on for the On Star service and the operator says, "The Crabby Nook? I buy from your store all the time!" HA HA!
1. It's all in the Name. I believe that branding starts in a name. I used to think that it was the logo but have learned over the years that the logo can change throughout time and still be recognized as your brand. This may not be true for everyone, but, I do think that you should start with your business name. What will stick in someone's brain when they leave that website and they have moved off to browse something else on the internet? However, a business name should be the same wherever you are doing business. So, if are selling on eBay, a website, or, another market venue you should use the same store name. The more times someone sees that name wherever they go and they have had a pleasant experience, the more likely they will start to remember that name.
I also believe that your social marketing efforts have better rewards when they are tied into your business name. If you blog, write articles, Reviews, etc. they should be written under your business name. They say that it usually takes reading a name at least five times before a person will start to remember it.
In the early years of starting The Crabby Nook, I was traveling to China and visiting small villages looking for art and sculptures to sell in my eBay store. In my travels I starting learning about Feng Shui and applying Asian art and symbols in clearing the path for business success. So, I started writing about what different symbols or art meant in the Asian culture. I had studied Asian Art since I was a child so this niche was a subject that I was familiar with. The Crabby Nook became known as a "Feng Shui" business. Many customers started following us because it was the "go to" place for Feng Shui and or collectible Asian Art. Even today, the articles I wrote in the early 2000's continue to draw visitors to my website everyday.
When I became ill and was no longer traveling to China on a regular basis and my inventory started to change, I had to make changes to my business brand. I sold my warehouse and this also changed the direction of my company. I worried that The Crabby Nook would drift out to sea and it would just symbolize another chapter in my life. I made the choice to continue marketing my business to my customers and hopefully convert them over to our new direction in product lines. We continued to offer good customer service, unique and quality products and started offering our own brand products. It is now 2015 and our company is a good example that a brand can change and continue to grow with change.
2 - Professional LOGO Graphic. Since we are putting our business name every where on the web that has free space, it is also very important to have some type of professional artwork that people associate with your company. These do and can change over the years...but, I am a firm believer that you should invest the money into getting your logo professionally done. You want to find a graphic designer who sees your vision. This is very hard to do. You will find many companies on the internet who are just turning out logos right and left...but when you take the time to start looking at their work, they all seem to look alike in many ways. Remember! You want your company to be unique!
Don't settle for just any logo. This logo is going to be where ever your business name goes. This logo is your brand.
Many people will remember a logo or picture first before they will remember a name. "Just Do It" wait...is that a logo or a tagline? But I bet you recognized it...
3 - Company Tagline. What do you want people to remember about your company? Customer service, product line, mission, expertise? "When you care to send the very best"
It is very important that you have a business tagline. Something that people will remember about your company. Only you can decided what it is that you want people to remember about your company. Our tagline has changed several times over the years. We do keep it very similar.
A tagline is very useful in your marketing campaigns. Be Consistent! You are going to use it over and over.
4 - Marketing. Marketing is essential to branding. Now that we have the business name, logo and tagline basics, we want to start marketing our company and our products. Not every marketing campaign is going to work for you. Marketing is trial and error....but, you are the only one who knows your customer. You know what they like, what they want, and what appeals to them. Not everyone understands marketing so don't rely on others opinions about your campaigns. The key is to just keep trying and keep marketing until you find that comfortable corner in what you are doing. I gear our marketing toward customer loyalty. I want those who have purchased from us before to purchase from us again. In essence, brand marketing is building customer loyalty.
I am not going to discuss marketing on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. Those topics are all covered heavily in our groups. You should take into consideration how a marketing campaign will reflect on your company or how it represents your brand.
When a customer receives their order from you, what do they get to remind them about your company? A customized packing slip is the minimum they should get. A major part of your brand is your customer service. You want people to know that you have reliable customer service and to have a pleasant experience. Personally, we also include a postcard with a coupon code for a discount on a future order. Depending on order amount, we include a brochure or catalog of our products and articles we have written. And, a business card magnet. Magnets are great for developing customer loyalty because people place them on a file cabinet, a refrigerator to hold up photos, etc. At the end of the year, we give our best customers magnet calendars with our company info. It is amazing how many customers look forward to getting these calendars every year. The key here is to get your business name and or logo in front of your customers.
Ten days after a purchase, we send each customer an email asking them how their transaction went. We use an application offered in eBay stores and customize the message to reflect a professional business. We have received feedback from customers who mention the professional follow up our company provides.
Twice a month we send out email newsletters to our customers with the option that the recipient can opt out of getting future emails. We usually offer a special coupon for these customers who get this email and let them know the coupons are not open to everyone...just loyal customers hopefully to remind them how important they are to us. People love to be loyal to a company that appreciates them.
In the past, we have mailed out postcards and or catalogs to our customers every quarter advertising our specials, new products, etc. We found that in snail mail campaigns they are harder to get that customer over to their computer and type in a link. When we had a B&M store, these type of marketing campaigns were very effective. We still do postal campaigns periodically, but, we do not rely on them as we have in the past.
We write articles and blog about our products and or uses. The longer you have active links on the web with content increases your search engine ranking. I strongly recommend that you write articles, reviews, etc. As an example, in 2004, I took a class on the Chinese Zodiac. I ended up writing a series of articles about each Chinese Zodiac Symbol. Every year I write my predictions on how your Chinese Zodiac symbol will fare during the Chinese New Year. They are just fun predictions...but, I have a following every year who come back to my website to read this article.
The key to building your brand is consistency. Selling quality products. Offering good deals. Building customer loyalty. Having your business name everywhere you are. Start today by making a plan. Look at your business name, logo and tagline and start there. It is never too late.