Whether you are just starting your small business with the most bare of means or just frugal no matter what, the reasoning hardly matters when it comes to branding. I’ve never encouraged the notion that money has to be thrown to the wind in order to build a brand. Being thrifty, technologically savvy, and notoriously crafty can make a million bucks seem unnecessary.
The many ways your ideal customer interacts with your brand is called touchpoints and include everything from web design to employee behavior, the quality of your packaging, to the way you answer the phone.
As creative women in business, the fun part is finding original ways to make these brand experiences memorable for customers. To jumpstart this I like to step outside of the role of entrepreneur and into the role of customer by jotting down the last items I purchased, why I purchased them, and what the experience was like. Was it the gorgeous Pinterest board that led me to those amazing silk pillows on Etsy? Did that nutritionist really just answer my email personally and offer a 20% discount for my first purchase?
Here are 5 Free or Low Cost Ideas For Enhancing Brand Experience
1. Throw a party! See, you’re already flinching, I can tell. But for a bottle of champagne and chocolate, you can invite your entire list to your shop (or a location that will host your presentation or trunk show) and have a Chocolate + Champagne shopping hour that feels luxurious but costs you twenty bucks. I attended an event like this recently, honestly for the drinks, but left with two bags full of merchandise. Or host a Twitter party by making use of hashtags and centering around a fun theme. Or let your fans get VIP access to you via Google+ Hangouts which works amazingly well if you are a stylist (host a red carpet party and offer tips for wardrobes) or if you’re a photographer (give a live tutorial) or even a business coach. The options are endless and the memories will be priceless.
2. Create your own group. Whether its volunteering or a hobby gathering from Meetup.com you can encourage that face-to-face engagement that small business owners take for granted. This allows you to pass out marketing materials but also connect with potential customers who pick up on your expertise. If you are in the product industry, why not start an art gallery tour group if you’re an artist/photographer or a supper club if you’re a budding chef or baker.
3. Stay in touch the old fashioned way. As an early endorser of the Internet, I now find myself creating reason after reason to stay away from the web. You can quickly lose touch with reality and social interaction values when cooped up on the laptop surfing Facebook all day. Instead, why not put that time and energy into organizing your customer list (no matter how small) and making sure birthdays, anniversaries, and holiday reminders are filled in. For the cost of a stamp you can make someone’s day 100x better. Handwritten notes are to customers what food is to a man’s heart. Who can you send a thank you note or birthday wish to right now? Don’t wait, go do it! You’d be surprised how instantly that can ignite a sale or better yet, a referral. By injecting yourself into someone’s physical life versus having them bookmark your page to return to later on, you are catching them at a time that might be in need of your product or service, but the best part is, your note will cast fog over competition who only lives online.
4. Embellish prime real estate. I have put off updating my email signature and voicemail for so long that I should be pinched every time I complain for a lack of sales. These simple tasks done once will continue to work hard for you and your brand. If your email signature doesn’t show your logo or smiling face, your mission statement, and social media profiles, you are doing a disservice to yourself. And there are no more excuses for shying away from using the telephone. Phone numbers are FREE now! Get a Google number or Skype and create a voicemail that creates a warm and memorable experience for your customers. Just having a customer service number establishes credibility and trust, but having an upbeat and catchy voicemail creates engagement and reassurance.
5. Create content. This advice is everywhere because it’s true and it works. Don’t beat yourself up about this or make tasks seem larger than life. Simply set aside an hour to make a blog and add one post a week, or write a personal story and send it to your email list, or share relevant and inspiring content on Twitter and Facebook. These items of content will never go away, so you are constantly adding pieces of your brand to the world so that ideal customers can find you, engage with you, and hopefully hand over their money in exchange for your brand experience.