27 Dec 2017 | 03.49 pm
Mindshare Tips For Small Business Brand Building
Ad agency says peer to peer connections are key
27 Dec 2017 | 03.49 pm
By delivering useful content and messages via trusted media, including through peers, an SME can build a brand that people are happy to recommend, write David Kirkpatrick (pictured) and Eoin Ó Suilleabhain of Mindshare.
The idea of branding for SMEs can often feel lofty, expensive and complicated. It feels detached from the day-to-day realities of building a business, cashflow and staff management.
Put in simple terms, your brand is how you are perceived by the public. Selling your product can often seem heavily reliant on personal connections and word of mouth for SMEs, and any approach to branding should have this at its heart. Selling your product through a network of recommendations is intricately connected to your brand and the advertising choices you make.
Why successful brand building is vital for growing companies
It goes without saying that consideration and growth are intrinsically linked. As you seek to grow your business, the higher the proportion of people who include your brand in their initial consideration set, the higher the proportion of people who will ultimately purchase the product or service. So, getting into that initial consideration set is vital to any growth strategy. A strong brand and brand building strategy will go a long way to helping you break into this consideration set. But that strategy has to go beyond building awareness alone.
Broad awareness of your products and services will only get you so far. Converting that awareness into purchases will require a more nuanced and tailored approach. Broad reach media will help deliver your brand message and tell your story at scale but to drive home key messages like reasons to believe, value, benefits and utility, you will need to employ more direct or involved channels. This is where connecting with peer groups is key.
Peer to peer connections are key
People highly value advice from a mentor, trusted expert, colleague, friend, family member, or neighbour. According to Nielsen, ‘personal recommendations’ are the most trusted form of advertising, with 81% of people having faith in peer-to-peer endorsements (Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising).
“As markets become saturated with information and products, it is increasingly difficult for consumers to know and process all alternatives. In such circumstances, competent advisors and peers, can help consumers become informed without their engaging in cognitively demanding and time-consuming search activities.”
This theory was further borne out in recent Mindshare qualitative research, demonstrated by the following quote:
“My peer network is my main source of inspiration and reassurance… and with so much noise and information being thrown at me they also act as a filter…getting to the most important information fast without having to spend loads of time researching.”
Media channels play a key role in creating peer connections. When putting an advertising message out, the media type itself can have an important impact on how the message is received. The medium (e.g. trusted environments and peers) is as important as the message itself.
Coined by Marshall McLuhan in 1964, the idea that ‘the medium is the message’ asserts that the form the media itself embodies actually embeds itself in any message it conveys. It is our firm view that by delivering useful content and messages via trusted media, including through peers, that an SME can build a brand that people are happy to recommend. Ultimately brand building in this context centres around the combination of increased awareness and connectivity amongst peers.
Golden Rules for SMEs
ACT: Accessible, Connected, Trusted.
Regardless of development stage or budget, SMEs should keep three rules in mind in order to strike this balance:
- Accessible: Deliver useful and relevant content at the right time in the right environment where your target consumers, their peers and influencers, will be most receptive.
- Connected: In the context of our peer influence insight, social platforms should be a key medium. For example, after personal email, search and online news, WhatsApp has the fourth highest daily reach (69%) amongst affluent adults.
- Trusted: Use high trust media environments including reputable news and sector publications both on and offline.
1) Be Accessible
Be where your customers are.
There have been huge developments in how brands can target their customers based on where they are or where their business is. For example, it is now possible to target potential customers to within one kilometre of your business through Facebook advertising.
Accessibility is not just physical proximity, accessibility is also about your brand being in the places that are important to your customers. For example, 58% of adults read a news article online daily. Can you or your company advertise around relevant news articles or pay to sponsor content in places (such as The Journal) that your customers may spend a lot of time?
An underdeveloped area of accessibility is podcasting. Research from Edison/IAB states that 70% of respondents agreed that “products and services you learn about on podcasts are generally relevant to your interests”. Can your business find a commercial opportunity in becoming active in this space?
2) Be Connected
Be in places where you can create one-to-one connections.
Use technology to create connections. WhatsApp has extremely high reach for almost all potential audiences. Could your business use this platform to set up customer groups or offer out product advice? For example, most DIY stores have advice or expert desks in store. Could this offering simply be extended out into WhatsApp where tradesman could check for products on site or on the move? Could your company offer Skype tutorials or help desks?
3) Be Trusted
Give physical cues.
For a person to want to give a recommendation for a brand, there needs to be physical cues around the brand’s stature. These physical cues give both the giver and the receiver of the recommendation the confidence and assurance that the recommendation is a sound one. In the context of branding, these physical cues are rooted in trusted media brands. Advertising in the likes of the Sunday Times, Today FM, Newstalk and The Daily Mail give potential customers an association with a strong and trusted brand.
Ultimately there is no one size fits all solution for SMEs when it comes to branding. The term SME is so broad and all-encompassing that one advertising strategy or channel will not work for the next. What is key for SMEs to understand when approaching advertising is that your brand is what people think of your product and this is intricately linked to recommendations, purchase consideration and, ultimately, growth.
At Mindshare, we understand how to unlock your brand and create the connections needed to drive recommendations for your business.
• David Kirkpatrick is Chief Strategy and Digital Officer, and Eoin Ó Suilleabhain is Digital Strategy Director in Mindshare.
Tel: (01) 415 0300