A Room with A Bed Isn’t Enough- 8 Ways to Future Proof Your Independent Boutique Hotel

As an independent hotelier, you are always looking for ways to provide the best in service to your guests. You want to give them the best experience so that they come back to you when they require your services again, and the way to build loyalty and a great hotel brand.

Largely, customers are seeking a personalized experience, and they definitely want to remain connected from the booking process all the way to check out. Trends like mobile check-in and checkout are growing in popularity, and Wi-Fi remains a most-wanted amenity for guests of all ages.

Here are eight ways you can make your brand the greatest and get your customers coming back for more great stays.

1. Get Super Connected

In the old days, you would pick up that phone that sat on the little desk in between the beds, and you would call the front desk for help with whatever you needed. Or, you’d call the designated number for concierge, and get the help that way.

However, if your hotel has an app, consider taking a cue from Marriott and Hilton. They have the ability for consumers to complete the check-in process right from their smartphones, get into their room using a mobile key, and send out text messages with queries and requests to hotel staff members.

Connectivity is certainly growing as a standard by which hotels are measured. And of course, be sure that your rooms are equipped to handle the changing needs of today’s device-carrying travelers: some hotels even feature charging ports that are a welcome sight to those who may have left theirs on the plane.

2. Emphasize the Wi-Fi

Business travelers are getting work done. Digital nomads are meeting guidelines. Families with kids need the tablet for entertainment. The faster, the better!

The faster you can make your Wi-Fi, the better. Some customers are willing to pay an upcharge for higher speed, but this may be off-putting to some.

In the same vein, provide plenty of power outlets so that devices can be plugged in and charged with ease. Every member of the family has at least a smartphone-so be sure you are prepared.

3. Put A Focus on Local Fun

One way to really improve hotel guest experience is to help travelers experience the city like a true local. With the advent of Airbnb, this is now more important than ever. One huge example is the Unforgettable Experience packages that the Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria offers.

These include destination-specific activities right in the room rate. One such experience situated in Dubai includes dinner and a camel ride for two people. While you certainly do not have to provide camel rides, consider ways you can appeal to your guests by integrating local activities.

You might offer a rate that includes passes to a local attraction, or a dinner voucher for a favorite local restaurant, for instance. Experiences are now more important than ever to consumers, especially millennials, who currently hold them in higher value than “stuff.”

4. Improve Brand Experience by Making Training an Everyday Occurrence

There is no doubt that your staff already puts in 110% when completing their daily duties, and everyone from the GM to the housekeepers to the landscapers does their best. But there are some great ways that you can combine traditional training methods with technology to ensure that every agent and employee is up to speed.

For instance, suppose you have implemented a new Property Management System. Be sure that you are taking advantage of all methods available to teach and train employees. Have them take part in classroom training exercises, complete e-learning, or use an application that monitors your employees’ actions while they work so you can guide them as they learn the system.

Make a concerted effort to have every employee trained on new procedures, technology, and rules. Customers having to wait in line while an employee fumbles around is unacceptable and leaves everyone frustrated.

A well trained and informed staff will resonate soundly with guests. Your brand becomes synonymous with excellence.

5. Provide Personalized Customer Service

A hallmark of your brand can easily be personalized customer service. In a world where we are becoming more and more connected in the digital sense instead of the personal sense, it has become critical to treat your guests like they are the only ones in the entire hotel.

Not all guests should get the same treatment, and excellence is measured in different ways from guest to guest. Some want a speedy check-in; others like to stop and chat with you. Do your best to learn your customers’ name and greet them as such.

Demonstrate an eagerness to help. Remember the guests’ preferences. And be sure you and your employees are able to offer solid information about the local area such as good places to dine or interesting local activities.

Though your brand may not be as large as national chains, you can still treat guests like VIPs. Be sure your staff is trained to be attentive and treat everybody with the utmost of care, regardless of who they are. Guests leave reviews everywhere now: Google, Yelp and more-so when they feel special and cared for, others will know and book with you.

6. Make Booking Easy

You can do simple things that will hugely improve on your booking process and deliver guests the fast and easy experience they desire. Make the calendar part of your process easy by filling out the check-in and checkout boxes with today’s date, plus one day.

Lots of hotels have blank calendar fields and filling it in helps the user get one step closer to whatever dates they need.

You can include a progress measurement for the booking progress. People like to know how long a task will take before they can move onto the next thing, and a progress bar, steps till completion or other measurement method helps consumers move along and stay encouraged to finish the process.

Be sure your process does not ask consumers to log in or create an account unless they will be rewarded in some way (points, etc.). This just annoys the user with more tasks all for marketing reasons, not a great experience.

Every hotel is different, but at the minimum, just ask for full name, email, and phone number. You might also include special requests and time of arrival fields, too. Be sure that your website also offers security credentials, too-it’s peace of mind for users.

7. Guest Engagement

This ties into making guests feel like they are the only ones present in your hotel at any given moment. Guests that are disengaged are not as likely to return to a property and will more than likely discuss their experience online using any number of popular review sites.

Millennials are less likely to be engaged, says Gallup, but the silver lining is that guests who are engaged are less sensitive to price whether they demand luxury experiences or an economical stay. Therefore, guests that have an emotional attachment to a hotel are more likely to book at that property, regardless of budget.

You can encourage engagement by doing some easy things: Encourage them to provide feedback, and of course, treat them as the unique and varied individuals they are. Even though guests are there for different needs and experiences, they all desire great customer service that is delivered with a strong personal touch. Be sure you go over expectations with your staff to ensure the highest satisfaction among guests.

8. Provide Guests the Amenities They Want

There are amenities that customers really like, and then there are ones they can do without. Providing the right mix of amenities that add value to your guests’ stay is critical in making an impact. Consider changing the following:

  • Room Service-Customers are yearning more for good, strong Wi-Fi or a gym. Combine this with the desire to eat local cuisine and experience what the locals do, room service is desired less and less.
  • Valet-Many travelers, even those who stay at luxury hotels, prefer to park their own car.
  • Slippers and robes-Many guests prefer to just wear their own clothes and would not mind if hotels nixed the bathrobes.
  • Mini-bar-The mini bar is often expensive, and travelers do not want to pay the price. Plus, it is expensive to stock these.

Final Thoughts

Your independent boutique property can speak volumes for itself when you provide customers what they seek, which is a personalized, engaging experience, a connected stay at your hotel, bridges to the local cuisine, activities, and establishments, and of course an easy process from start to finish.

By integrating as much helpful technology as you can, and keeping staff trained to be attentive and friendly to your customers’ needs, you will surely notice more repeat business and your hotel will be established as a modern and beautiful place to stay for business, travel, or anything in between.

How Leaders Can Find Work-Life Balance with a Powerful Brand

It’s an all-too-common problem for many solo entrepreneurs, business owners, and bootstrapped startups. It’s harming families and tearing apart marriages. It’s the cause of many sleepless nights and restless thoughts. People write books to help solve this problem and stores can’t keep them on the shelves. This problem isn’t age-specific, gender-specific, or restricted to a certain location or industry.

The problem? Work–life balance.

Finding a balance between your work and your life seems like chasing a carrot on a stick. It feels like an impossible goal, one that will never be reached. We live in a world where the first thing people ask when they meet is, “what do you do?” Our society has put so much emphasis on how “successful” you are or what your job title is. So, it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs are focusing more and more time on their business and less time being with their loved ones or enjoying other activities.

Sadly, a majority of the American workforce are dissatisfied with their work due to a lack of work-life balance.

What exactly is a Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance is a concept related to how you allocate your time, energy, and mental focus into various parts of your life: work, family, health, personal growth, friendships, etc. Finding a healthy “balance” of all of these aspects to your life is thought to lead to a wholeness of life – meaning you have a better sense of belonging, purpose, and happiness.

For business owners specifically, this balance is extremely hard to find.

You likely wear many hats. As a business owner, you’re not only working one job, but you’re probably working the equivalent of two, three, or even more jobs. So finding this balance can seem nearly impossible.

Are you out of balance?

As business owners, how many times do we catch ourselves sitting at the dinner table with our family thinking of client deadlines, upcoming bills, troubles with employees, or where your next lead will come from?

If you can’t allow yourself to be present with your family or friends, you’re probably out of balance. If you feel too tired or mentally taxed to read a book simply for your enjoyment, you’re probably out of balance. If you’re constantly checking your email because you’re worried that you may have missed something or that an emergency may have occurred while you were away, you’re probably out of balance.

How Can I Find Balance?

There are some ways that we can make the work-life balance feel more manageable. However, don’t expect to be perfect in your efforts. Here are some ideas you can start trying:

  1. Prioritize Social Time with No Agenda. Spend time with your family and friends for no reason other than just enjoying time with them. Do your best not to talk about your business. Talk about life, hobbies, dreams, interests, sports, politics – anything but your work.
  2. Be Flexible with Your Schedule. Create your own definition of balance. Maybe balance for you is enjoying time in the morning alone while you read a book. Maybe it’s leaving your office early every Thursday afternoon to spend time with your kids. You own your business, you make the rules. Create your own schedule.
  3. Unplug and Relax. Be present with yourself and others. Turn off your phone. Leave your laptop at work. When you’re with others, or alone with yourself – be present. There’s a never-ending stream of emails, calendar invites, meetings, missed calls. Don’t worry, they’ll be waiting for you and you’ll have time to take care of everything later. As much as possible, keep those moments away from your business sacred.
  4. Work smart. In this day in age, there’s a buzzword floating around the world of business and entrepreneurship – hustle. Typically this word means to work hard all hours of the day and night with a relentless and never-ceasing drive to grind away in an effort to grow your business. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time for “hustle.” However, what’s better than working hard and working a lot? Working smart and being extremely effective.

This idea of working smart vs. working hard isn’t a new one and is extremely important as you are seeking a work-life balance that is sustainable. However, most business owners don’t feel like they have the tools or know-how to work smart. This is why a strategic foundation for your business is so important. A brand strategy will bring alignment throughout your business, and allow you to run your business in a smarter way.

5 Ways That a Brand Strategy Leads to Balance

1. Clearer Focus Will Require Less Mental Energy

A strategic foundation will narrow your focus so that you aren’t wasting time on things that don’t matter. You’ll have a better idea of why you do what you do, how you will accomplish it, and where you should be spending your time and energy. By doing this, you’ll free up your thoughts allowing you to be more present with your family and friends outside of your workplace. You’ll be more deliberate in your efforts, and begin to see how you can spend your time more wisely on a daily basis.

2. Spend Less Time & Energy Worrying About Decisions

When you have a clearly defined vision and values for your business, decision-making is simplified. Many decisions, big and small, become easier because you have defined guidelines in place. These guard-rails provided by a brand strategy will continually bring you back to your roots and ensure that you’re always aligned with your core values and always consistent. When decisions are easier, you aren’t as drained with the day-to-day of your business – giving you more mental energy to spend on things you enjoy outside of work.

When decisions are easier, you aren’t as drained with the day-to-day of your business

3. Empowered and Engaged Team

One of the best ways that a brand strategy will help you find a work-life balance is how it can help empower and engage your employees. Studies show that employees who are more engaged perform better, are more committed, and more loyal.

Although your brand is at the forefront of all your marketing efforts, it is also displayed throughout your team – from the receptionist answering phones to the service technician out in the field. Smart branding means that your team members will have a complete understanding and ability to confidently deliver on your brand promise. When your team members are engaged and empowered, this means they will often take on more responsibilities and be brand ambassadors for you.

This allows you to delegate with more confidence, freeing up more of your time to do other things you love.

4. Better Results from Marketing Agencies You Hire

The beauty of a properly built brand strategy is that it enhances everything that you’re currently doing. It’s likely that you’re doing some marketing; whether you’re doing it on your own or you’ve hired a marketing agency to do it for you. For most business owners, the reality is that they feel like their marketing efforts aren’t as effective as they could be. In fact, we recently did a survey and found that 100% of business owners feel that their marketing efforts aren’t effective.

A brand strategy will give you the confidence to know that you’re sending the right message, with the right look, and talking to the right people. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. When your marketing efforts are performing well and you’re seeing great results – it puts less stress on you outside of your work.

5. Customers Working for You, Brand Evangelists

What’s better than getting a new customer? Getting a new customer from a past customer referral.

When you are doing great work and have a great brand, people take notice. When you are relating to people on a human level, people will listen. Knowing your customers intimately is a vital step in the brand strategy process. When you truly know your customers, their desires, their fears, and their goals – then you’ll be better equipped to turn them into brand evangelists.

When you are relating to people on a human level, people will listen

Having a free workforce of past customers who gladly refer their friends, family, and colleagues to is a great feeling. This is one other way to make your business run stress-free and create a brand that you’re proud of.

It may seem impossible to find a work-life balance, but it’s worth the effort. However, I can assure you that not having a strategic brand will greatly hinder your efforts and set you back tremendously.

The only thing stopping you from building a more strategic brand is you. At Longitude°, we have developed a streamlined process that will help accelerate your growth and help you reach your vision for your business. Smart business leaders everywhere are loving BrandGPS, and you will too. Want to talk with a Brand Guide? Request a meeting today.

Your Personal Brand is Important

Why do you need a Personal Brand?

If someone asked you to quickly identify your unique contributions to your business, backed up with supporting evidence, would you be able to do that without batting an eye?

Most people can see the importance of branding in regards to their business. It’s obvious that creating a strong brand is vital to every business. A well-built brand strategy can give you a huge advantage over your competition. However, people often miss the mark when it comes to clearly identifying who they are, what their values are, what they stand for, and how they are uniquely skilled and equipped to help a business grow.

Personal branding may seem odd, uncomfortable, or even vain – but the practice of building a personal brand should not be overlooked by any entrepreneur, professional, or aspiring leader. If approached properly, the process of creating a personal brand can give you a calm confidence as you establish priorities in your life and career, and plan out the journey ahead.

Creating a personal brand can give you a calm confidence as you establish priorities in your life, and plan out the journey ahead.

The fact of the matter is, you’re going to have a personal brand – whether you’re in control of it or not. Your personal brand is shown in every blog post you write, every twitter post you share, and every email you send. If left unclear or undefined, people will make their own assumptions about who you are, why you do what you do, and what you represent.

However, if you can take control of your own personal brand you’re the one writing the story. You decide the narrative. You are the one with the pencil and paper – sharing only what you want your audience to see. Wouldn’t you rather be the one in the driver’s seat?

If that fact alone isn’t enough to convince you, here are some other benefits to expect when building a personal brand:

  • Establish your value outside of your current career or job title
  • Pinpoint how to present the best you
  • Appreciate your strengths and weaknesses
  • Create a following of others who share common values
  • Gain confidence
  • Show your value through your efforts
  • Clearly define your niche
  • Lay a foundation of credibility
  • Position yourself outside of the norm
  • Impart your values with clear messaging

How do you create a personal brand?

So you want to start creating a personal brand; where do you begin? Well for starters, you’ll need to set aside enough time in a distraction-free environment. Be committed, and ready to focus on diving deep into your own understanding of yourself. Turn off your phone. Put away the computer. All you need is a pencil and paper.

It’s worth noting that as you begin constructing your personal brand, you need to be sure that you’re being honest with yourself. You are the one that has to live up to your personal brand. If you aren’t honest with yourself, it’ll lead you to live a life that isn’t authentic, which will result in sending mixed signals to others. This forces you to live a phony life and does great harm to your brand.

You are the one that has to live up to your personal brand.

1. Writing Your Vision Statement

Ask these questions separately for work and personal:

  1. “At my core, what do I value most?”
  2. “What interests me the most and what am I most passionate about?”
  3. “Where does my motivation come from?”
  4. “What makes me the happiest?”

After you’ve written these answers down, next write out a personal vision statement. It should be concise, strong, and true. This will statement will only be seen by you and may change over time, so don’t spend too much time waxing eloquent.

Here is an example of a personal vision statement:

Personal:

“My personal vision… is that my life is one of intentional purpose – for myself and others. It’s important that I live a life of kindness, love, compassion, and concern for others. By listening to others, and serving others, I want to gain new insights, learn new things, and gain an understanding of different perspectives.”

Career:

“My vision for my career… is one of constant improvement and continual learning. I want others to feel confident around me and yet challenged to do better when they are with me. I want to work with people who share similar ambitions, and values. Most importantly, I want every person I interact with to feel like I’ve helped them in some way. I never want to be a dead end for anyone. I want to be thought of as thoughtful and wise.”

2. Planning How to Reach Your Goals

Now that we’ve defined who you are and what you value at your core, it’s time to define some goals and outline how you’re going to achieve those goals. These next steps will guide you through creating the goals, and then deciding what you need to do in order to reach those goals, what you should be focusing your energy and effort on, and who you should be surrounding yourself with.

To discover your goals, ask yourself these questions:

  1. “What do I need to achieve in my life/career?”
  2. “What do I want to achieve in my life/career?”
  3. “Being successful in the short-term, what does that look like to me?”
  4. “Being successful in the long-term, what does that look like to me?”

As you write these down, you may find that many of these goals may not be connected to wealth or status, but rather happiness and fulfillment. That’s a good sign. It means that you’re being authentic, and honest.

Now that you’ve listed out your goals, you need to determine how you will achieve them. So next ask:

  1. “What are my best strengths?”
  2. “What are my worst weaknesses?”
  3. “Why am I unique?”
  4. “What are certain characteristics or competencies that make me stand out?”
  5. “Who are the people that energize me, bring me joy, and challenge me to do better?”
  6. “Who are the people that drain me, stress me out, and bring only strife?”

After you’ve taken inventory of your skills, expectations, and abilities, now you can prioritize the various pieces and types of people that will help you reach your goals – and also understand who and/or what you should avoid that may hold you back from reaching these goals.

You may find it hard to answer honestly or feel strange about some of your answers. If so, you may think about asking a close family member, or friend to help you answer some of them in an honest way. Ask them to be brutally honest. If they are sugar-coating the answers, it will just further complicate the process, and lead you down the wrong path.

The Evolution of a Personal Brand

Creating your personal brand takes time, effort, and constant evolution. Your personal brand must evolve with you – through life changes, career changes, or changes in your ambitions.

Personal branding isn’t a one-time event. You don’t simply wake up one morning with a personal brand that is well-established and respected. Instead, it’s an ongoing task that takes commitment, tons of effort, and requires consistency. But, it’s the best way to tell your story and cultivate the reputation you want.

At the end of the day, curating your personal brand is a continuous journey of defining your mission and vision, and ensuring that your sights are aimed in the direction you want to go.

So start the journey.

[Survey] How Strategic is Your Brand?

In a recent survey of small business owners, we aimed to find out how many businesses truly have a strategic brand. Some of the responses were troubling.

  • Lack of brand values. Almost 40% of businesses didn’t have clearly defined brand values or were unsure about what that even was.
  • Confusion. Over 30% of businesses thought that people were confused about what their brand represented.
  • Better than your competition? 1/3 of businesses couldn’t clearly define what made them any better than the competition.
  • Internal brand guidelines. Almost 70% of businesses had no internal document for their brand guidelines, to help them maintain consistent visuals and messaging.
  • A brand that attracts a buyer. Over 60% of businesses weren’t confident that their business’ brand was powerful enough to attract a buyer for their company.
  • Brand audit. 70% of business owners say they’ve never done an internal audit of their brand.
  • Customer surveys. 70% of businesses said they had never surveyed their customers in an effort to better understand and connect with them.

And the most alarming stat we found…

  • Ineffective marketing efforts. 100% of businesses said that they felt like their marketing efforts aren’t as effective as they could be…. 100%. 10 out of 10 small business owners. Crazy, right?

(Want to see how your brand ranks? Try the Brand Evaluator tool)

Weak Foundations Will Crumble

Our findings seem to fall in line with our own anecdotal evidence we’ve seen first hand over the years. Business owners are struggling. Many of them don’t have defined values, leaving them in a constant state of confusion–with no identity to align with. They’re causing confusion in the market and don’t know how to relate with their audience.

The reason it’s so troubling is that the very struggles that many business owners have can be easily traced back to a lack of a brand strategy. When you inject a strategic framework into your business, which gives you tools to make more informed and thoughtful decisions regarding building your brand – many problems that you once had, seem to fade away.

Having a strong and strategic foundation simplifies everything.

In fact, this has been echoed by a number of our BrandGPS customers. After guiding them through our process, our customers can’t believe the improvements they see to their business. Often times, almost immediately. Having a strong and strategic foundation simplifies everything. Decisions that once seemed difficult, now have an obvious answer. The feeling that you’re wasting money on marketing efforts starts to fade.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

You’ve probably heard this said before – garbage in, garbage out. The time, effort, focus, and money that you put into something will be directly tied to the results that you get out of it. This principle manifests in our personal lives, as well as the business world.

If I told you that I wanted to have a six-pack, and a chiseled beach body in 3 months, but then proceed to tell you that my diet would consist of pizza and chocolate shakes, and my exercise would be doing 1 push-up each day – you’d probably laugh at me, wouldn’t you? It would be absurd to expect such great results while putting in such minimal and pitiful effort.

It would be absurd to expect such great results while putting in such minimal and pitiful effort.

How often do our actions not align with our expected results?

  1. You’ll pay your buddy from college $100 to design your logo, and then expect to reap the benefits of a world-class brand strategy.
  2. You won’t spend 30 minutes to create a basic survey to send to your customers to better understand them, and then wonder why your messaging and communication isn’t connecting with your audience.
  3. You’ll wonder why you don’t seem to be attracting as many customers as you thought when you slap your $100 logo on a $10,000 sign.

Whether it’s a priority to you, or not… whether you are intentional about it, or not… whether you think it’s important, or not… you will have a brand. That brand is your reputation. If your reputation is causing confusion, and sending the wrong message to customers, there’s no amount of clever marketing tactics or catchy advertising campaigns that will save you. And as you frantically try and figure out a solution to why your business is slowly slipping out of your control, you’ll waste a lot of time and money along the way.

Branding on a Budget of $0

We hear this a lot. “Your BrandGPS process sounds awesome, and I can really see the value and how it could help my business… but…”

  • “We just can’t afford it.”
  • “We have other priorities right now.”
  • “Maybe it’s something we can implement later on.”
  • “We really just need a logo right now.”

These are not good reasons to give up on branding for your business. Even if you can’t afford to hire a professional branding agency like Longitude°, you can still be strategic in your branding. We’ve written a number of articles that could help get you started on the right path, as well as published a free guide called “The Business of Branding.” These types of resources should be utilized and implemented in your business.

There’s plenty that you can do to grow your business into a powerful and profitable brand. Don’t give up on building the brand you want, simply because you don’t believe you can afford it.

Here’s Why You’re Getting Beat by the Competition

The most profitable companies in the world make huge investments toward improving their brand and reputation; often spending millions to get it just right. Yet for many small businesses owners, branding is an afterthought. Why is this?

In this article, I’ll dispel some common misconceptions you may have about branding that could be harming your business. You’ll also learn about how a brand strategy (like the ones we develop through our BrandGPS™ process) could be one of the best investments you could make for your business.

Your Competition Is Winning, Here’s Why…

There’s a disease of misinformation spreading throughout the world of business. It’s plaguing small businesses and startups from every industry. If not caught early, then it could do great harm to your business.

Your competition thrives on your ignorance and they want you to stay misinformed.

Your competitors would prefer that you continue doing business as usual – fighting the uphill battle and constantly spinning your wheels. They don’t want you to be privy to certain best business practices, tricks of the trade, innovative ideas, or powerful marketing tactics. As brand guides, we see the results of this common complacency on a daily basis. Yet, more often than not, this disease can be cured through some education and awareness. With knowledge comes power.

Could You Be Misinformed?

The following statements shine a light on the fact that many people have a flawed understanding of what a brand is and how a brand strategy can benefit virtually every business. If you’ve found yourself saying any of the following statements, there’s a very high chance that you could be misinformed – and quite possibly doing great harm to your business without knowing.

MYTH #1: “There’s no clear ROI to branding.”

TRUTH: The fact is, there is plenty of examples of how proper branding, guided by a professional branding agency, can have a great return on investment. We’ll mention a few below.

MYTH #2: “It’s a nice-to-have, but not that important.”

TRUTH: There’s ample evidence to show that a brand strategy is not just a “nice-to-have” for your business, but a necessary step. If you view branding as just a decoration, or an “optional add-on” it’s time to step into the 21st century and stop running your business like you live in the 1950s.

The climate of the marketplace has changed, and consumers have changed with it. It’s not enough anymore to just say that you have the best prices or best quality stuff. Consumers are smarter and more engaged than ever. They will judge you based on how you look, what you say, and what you do. If any of those three pieces aren’t aligned, then you’ll be ignored.

You need to connect with consumers, not just talk about how awesome you are. They need to know who you are, what you do, what you stand for, and believe it. Developing a strategic brand should be one of the first steps in almost every business.

MYTH #3: “We just can’t afford it.”

TRUTH: In reality, you can’t afford to not have a brand strategy. But if you are an existing business, and truly don’t have any funds to invest in growing your business – then that could be a huge indicator that you need a brand strategy. A brand strategy can be one of the most important investments you make into your business. Implementing these principles, standards, and guidelines for your business can make you more profitable; making the initial investment of hiring a professional brand agency seem small.

MYTH #4: “We can hire ACME Agency to design a logo for half the price.”

TRUTH: This could be one of the most common, and most troubling misconceptions that surround branding. This antiquated idea is plaguing the world of startups and small businesses. Many people believe that spending a few hundred dollars to hire a logo designer will provide the same benefits as a going through an in-depth, comprehensive brand strategy process like BrandGPS™ – This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Investing in a brand strategy and professional brand identity is one of the most important decisions you can make.

Benefits of Branding

Your brand is the public’s response to how you look, what you say, and what you do. Without a brand strategy and professional brand identity, you’re probably missing 2 out of 3 vital pieces that make for a great brand. Implementing a brand strategy and brand identity (like the ones we provide with BrandGPS™) provides a ton of incredible benefits, uses, and tools to help your business grow – like crazy. The list below is not complete by any means, but will give you just a taste of some of the benefits you can expect after improving your approach to branding.

1. A Customer Magnet

People really want an easy connection to the brands they love. A great brand is a great reputation. It lets someone know they can trust your business to deliver the best services or products, all the time. You brand bridges the gap between your business and your customers; strengthening their resolve to do business with you. Often times this can increase metrics for your business such as conversion rates, or average order value.

2. Customer Loyalty Sky-rockets

Great and intentional branding is one of the most effective ways to increase customer loyalty. When people have a memorable experience with your brand, they will remember your brand, not only your product or service. People put their trust in brands, not products. So if your brand can connect with your customers emotionally, and build trust, chances are you’ll have a customer for life.

3. Your Message Connects

If created well, a brand strategy and identity can provide an incredible channel of communication with your audience. Your brand can inform people about your company’s value, your defining message, and unique characteristics. Things like these will help consumers connect to your business, and easily be able to identify your products vs. your competition’s. It’s important to know your customer intimately. What drives them? What motivates them? Once you find this out, design your brand strategy and identity accordingly – and growing your business is almost inevitable.

4. You Look Like a Better Choice

Do consumers know what sets you apart from your competition? Believe it or not, most people won’t just pay you money because you say that you do the best work, you provide the best quality, you’re the most affordable, and you’re just plain awesome. A real brand strategy will give you the right messaging to clearly communicate the value of your offering. Without this positioning statement, your business will just fall into the sea of a thousand competitors. A well-thought-out brand strategy will set your brand apart from the crowd, and even if the competition tries to copy you – it will just further establish and solidify your value in the consumer’s mind.

5. Who Doesn’t Like More Money?

If I offered to give you an additional 23% revenue this year but asked you to give me a small fraction of that amount in return, what would you say? You’d say yes; it’d be a no-brainer. It’d be absurd to say no.

Yet this is exactly what many businesses are doing every single year by not investing in a brand strategy, and getting consistent with their approach. Brand consistency is extremely important, and a pillar of any solid brand strategy.

There have been studies that show brands who are consistent can experience a 23% increase in their revenue, on average. That’s a pretty crazy stat, isn’t it? How would it make you feel to see your revenue increased by 23%? It’d probably feel pretty good, right?

Think about this for your own business. Ask yourself the following:

  1. What do I estimate my revenue to be over the next 12 months?
  2. Multiply that number by 0.23.
  3. That’s how much money you’re throwing away each year by not implementing a brand strategy and maintaining a consistent brand.

So for example, a business making $100,000 annually will lose $23,000 per year by not having an effective and consistent brand strategy in place.

There’s a Better Option

The news is in. You need a brand strategy for your business. If your business doesn’t have one or the one you have is ineffective, get in touch with us.

We’ve worked with many very sharp, forward-thinking owners and entrepreneurs from a variety of industries; guiding them through our 4-step brand development process called, BrandGPS™.

Over the course of 4-6 weeks, we help you establish a solid brand strategy for your business; helping bring alignment to your business goals and marketing efforts. It gives you the right look to attract more ideal customers and ensures that your brand is sending the right message.

What this provides for a company like yours is a clear and consistent connection with people, and quite frankly this often means an increase in your profits. It comes as no surprise to us that many of the business owners we’ve partnered with have expressed that BrandGPS™ is the best investment they’ve made for their business.

Communication Without Connection

Great communication should create a connection, not just relay information.

con·nec·tion – a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.

com·mu·ni·ca·tion – the imparting or exchanging of information or news.

People don’t communicate through words alone, but primarily by emotional exchanges.  This is why branding matters and is so important to businesses.

Studies show that our brain makes judgments about what someone is saying based on their “emotional tone” or rather: body language, eye contact, facial expressions, how distracted they are, and the tone of their voice. We make these judgments before our brain even begins to interpret the meaning of the words we’re hearing or seeing.

1. Connection Makes for Better Communication

As a business owner, you need people to hire you, buy your product, or service; but if you’re only focused on convincing people to buy your stuff,  you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Great businesses focus on truly understanding their customer’s perspective, needs, and desires – doing their best to build a connection with them. If you only focus on your communication technique or savvy marketing campaigns, you can certainly fail to connect with people. Even worse, you could even communicate that you are disingenuous; causing even more harm to your reputation.

Too many businesses start trying to communicate before they ever try to connect. Here are just a few downsides of communication absent of connection:

  • People are turned off by you before they ever give you a chance.
  • Your logo or brand identity conveys a different message than you want. People view you as 2nd-class, the cheapest option, a low-quality business, or just don’t understand your business at all.
  • You invest a ton of money in a marketing agency, or on an ad campaign and don’t see any ROI.

Improve your emotional awareness towards your customer and the right words will follow, but it won’t work the other way around.

When you genuinely care about your audience, you will feel more connected to them. And when there is a good connection, good communication comes naturally. Being disconnected makes for poor communication – and no tricky marketing techniques or big budget ad campaign will change that.

2. Connection Fosters Trust

When a customer doesn’t feel connected to your business, the use of communication tricks and techniques makes them feel manipulated. The more you try to over-communicate, it will make it worse. A person will likely feel that there is a hidden agenda; they’ll believe that your goal is not in their best interest, but rather you’re attempting to get them to do what you want.

This is not a good place to be at as a business owner. But all too many business owners find themselves in this position. Your best chance at building healthy relationships with your audience is to do everything you can to connect with them in ways that don’t seem forced. Subtle ways.

Are you building a connection with your audience? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the first impression they have of your business?
  • How does your logo make them feel, or what does it tell them about your business?
  • Do they believe that you truly understand their needs and desires?
  • Are you engaging in a way that’s familiar and comfortable to them, or does it feel forced?

 

A great brand strategy will create a connection.

 

3. Refocusing Your Business

To begin making a better connection to people start by refocusing. Don’t focus on how to get someone to do what you want.

Rather focus on…

  • Listening to people, not just talking about how great your business is
  • Being genuinely curious to learn about people, their perspective, their troubles, their desires
  • Ensuring that you understand their motivations
  • Improving your product or service to provide people the most value and features that they really want

Remember, you must convey that you care about people and that you truly care about providing them an immense value. If you fall short of this, your connection to them will be lost – what you say to them won’t matter, they won’t care about how awesome you say your product or service is, and your message will fall on deaf ears.

Great communication should create a connection, not just relay information.

In Conclusion

Forget about convincing customers through tricky communication methods. Get connected with your audience right now. It starts with truly caring about people, and beginning to see that your brand is not just a logo or a catchy tagline – It’s your reputation. It’s how you make people feel.

Connecting with your audience will help you to communicate better. More importantly, you will show people you care – which will increase loyalty to your brand.

You will actually experience what it means to have a great product or service that helps people, rather than just talking about it.

 


Want to Make a Stronger Connection?

Find out how BrandGPS by Longitude° can help your business grow. Learn More

 

 

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Or just email us at info@longitudebranding.com