Consultant Bruce Johnson in Wired to Grow puts three key and fundamental marketing concepts together in a single eletter: The Single Most Important Question to Ask If You Want A Bigger and Better Brand.
I’ll steal his messaging thunder somewhat by providing the accurate answer without preamble:
How can we build more trust?
A brand is all about your reputation.
Now, if that’s true (and it is), what is your reputation built on? Exactly. It’s built on trust. So, if a brand is about your reputation and your reputation is built on trust, what do you think the single most important question you need to ask yourself is if you want to build a bigger and better brand?
He provides some worthy suggestions about building trust. I’ll let you read his post for three of them, but his fourth caught my eye because it touches on one of the fundamental marketing rules: differentiation.
Be Different In Ways That Matter to Them
This is counterintuitive but critical. The natural tendency is to think, “If we want to be successful, we should be doing what others are doing who are currently succeeding.” In other words, modeling or engaging in best practices—which is good advice for certain things—but not when it comes to branding.
In one sense, you would think sameness would build trust (“Hey, this company is just like every other company, so we can trust them”) but it doesn’t work that way. Why? Because if you’re like every other company/solution, and their need isn’t being met or their problem isn’t being solved, then being the same won’t increase their trust because, “You’ll fail me just like every other company has and I’ll still have this problem.”
When it comes to branding, different is good. For example, I was talking with one of my coaching club members recently about how his franchise was different (he owns several Mosquito Squad territories). As we were discussing it, one of the items he mentioned was that they use a premium chemical blend for their mosquito spraying. I said, “That’s a feature. What’s the benefit?” He said, “Well, it lasts longer.” I said, “How much longer?” He said, “Our spray typically lasts two to three weeks, even if it rains.” “Whoa.” I asked, “What do you mean, even if it rains?” He said, “Well, most sprayers use a less expensive blend that washes away if it rains, which is why they often have to come out and respray.” I said, “Now, that’s a difference that matters.”
To me, that’s a difference that builds trust (our spray lasts even if it rains … which clearly matters here in the low country of South Carolina because it rains a fair amount here). When I heard that, it automatically made be trust the Mosquito Squad brand because it was both different from it’s competitors and it was different in a way that matters.
Everywhere you go you can see that different matters in branding. For example, my wife is a “The Voice” addict. She loves the show. Every year a number of incredible singers get stage time and they’re all good (unlike “American Idol” where you had a lot of terrible singers competing with good singers, especially through the auditions). But what separates out the best performers from the good performers is always difference. When you hear someone sing a familiar song just like the original, it’s good but not worth buying. However, when they sing a familiar song in a different way—well, that’s remarkable and that’s a brand worth trusting for your music tastes.
So, how are you doing at being different? What is unique about you and your company? And, then, how are you marketing that difference to make sure your prospects know that difference?
Consider this point:
Brand building doesn’t have to be so hard. Nor does it have to cost a lot of money. At its core, brand building is about building trust. The more trust you build, the better your reputation. And the better your reputation, the stronger your brand equity will be (and hence, the more faithful your customer base with be).
It can take a while to really grasp and understand the importance of effective brand-building success. However, when you do, you’ll also discover that you don’t need to spend a fortune on marketing, you retain your high-margin clients, and your sales conversion rate (with the customers you really want to win) increases meaningfully.
However, there is one final point: I think we can lose connectivity with true relationships and connections by converting common-sense marketing concepts into jargon. The point here is to think about where you truly provide exceptional value to your clients and you can express that difference in a unique way, backed by solid ethical and reputational foundations.