You might say not very. In fact, more than two thirds of businesses have never even considered it and plenty of those are doing just fine. So when it is essential to really grab your slice of the market, declare it yours and defend it?
Google print shops in your city (chances are there are over a million hits) and select ten at random over the first three pages. Read the first paragraph of each home page then shut Google – now think back, which do you remember? Chances are you remember a couple with good layout and a couple that were especially affordable or fast or did something special. The rest – you’ve already forgotten. You remember those few because they owned a market position, without that, your business is on the forgotten list.
When You Decide To Advertise
Advertising isn’t cheap – in fact it is one of the most expensive ways to get your message out there. A great ad about your “HUUGGGEEE” poster sale this weekend will draw the punters in, but after the weekend, you’ll be forgotten. A great ad about how you’re the only supplier of Country and Western Music posters your having a HUGGEEE sale this weekend, will bring just as many punters in but you’ll also be remembered as one thing (biggest, cheapest, only one to deliver, only one to import direct from Italy – whatever makes you special).
When You Are Bigger Than Your Post Code
Imagine Mom and Pop own the only print shop in town and make a great little profit without advertising or branding. Geographically, they have a captive audience and it provides them with plenty of work (for now anyway) but online, they’re finished.
To the locals, Mum and Pop are trusted names – but to other buyers, they are nobodies because they have no brand personality and own no market position. If the buyer knew that they were good, well respected people who were trusted, if he knew that they were legendary for their skill at turning just about any proof into a work of art – then he would jump at the chance to order from them. The essence of your story can make a powerful brand.
Where Brand Dictates Price
Nike owns the position “winner”. That’s why Nike shoes cost more than your first car did. Mum and Pop will forever be limited in their pricing by supply and demand in their area.
While printing is a fairly basic service, aspirational purchases are built on branding (and cost a bomb compared to functional purchase) If your product helps the buyer feel part of something or better at something or just special – then branding is imperative to your product and establishing a strong, clear, desirable market position is your first task.
When Competition Is Eating Into Your Profits
In a competitive industry it is easy to get lost in the busy marketplace. One option is to be the biggest advertiser, this is the most expensive option but, done right, you’ll see good returns on your advertising investment.
The other, is to grab a specific segment of the market and OWN it. Maybe you can’t compete with the big chain print shops that own the big business market, but perhaps you can own the difficult job market by promoting your free “proof fixing” service where you specialise in taking poor quality originals and creating superior prints. This is your position, so you should be able to capture that market completely and, done well, pick up more jobs outside it too.
Market Position Without Competition
You’ve got a great product and you’re the only one selling it! Hooray, 100% market share! But as your business becomes successful, competitors will appear from everywhere. If you don’t OWN that market right now, competitors will grab it away from you. You have the greatest potential of all businesses – an original product. If it is a useful and popular product and you have your 7Ps right, you’re on your way to success – protect it from the very start with a good strong brand image.
When You Go Online
Here’s something you may not realize: within 10 seconds of viewing your website, I can tell roughly how much money you make.
If you sell your product or service to medium or large businesses, you are placed in a very weak negotiating position by failing to understand branding. Any decent marketing coordinator can tell immediately if your website was done professionally. If it’s not, then unfortunately, your market position will always be “small fry”.
You can however, address the problem to some degree. Make sure you hire a quality web designer who has a good understanding of your business and industry, that way, the visual element of your brand is strong. Design grabs the reader and makes her/him want to read – but there’s no point if you have nothing to say.
Whatever it is you are passionate about, whatever you excel at – be it. Live and breathe it. Every word on your website should remind readers of it, your font should compliment it, your logos, pictures, and even your copyright information page should reflect it – whatever it is.
Get to know your business and industry on every level, investigate your competitors thoroughly, look at how you fit in with price, delivery, quality…compare everything. Then find your place and Be It. Read up on the principles of great copywriting and follow these principles as you (or a wordsmith that you know) write your website copy. Your brand has just gone from “small fry” to “the one that can help me in a unique way”. It might not be enough to place you next to Nike but it’s a much, much better start.
If you fall outside these categories, I have probably forgotten something! The business world is too competitive to be nothing but a weak brand. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or time to create a solid beginning for your brand and the insight you will gain into your business will be invaluable.