Building and Scaling a Branding Business
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
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Today’s market is more dynamic than ever: products and services may come and go, with an astonishing turnover rate. But there's one industry that will always have a place in the start-up ecosystem: branding.
Branding businesses work to create and promote brands. In a world where smartphone attention spans are measured in fractions of a second, strong branding is vital to the success of any business. If you’re building a new branding business, this gives you a heads up: Your potential clients need great branding. But what can you do to build your branding business? How do you get high profile accounts? There is no easy way, but these fundamental insights may be useful on your journey.
Identify a niche
The marketing industry is extremely competitive. This means that you have to stand out to be successful. The best way to do this is to identify a niche with minimal competition that’s best-suited to your skills and experience. Do some introspection. What marketing experience do you and your team have? What industries have you worked with in the past? Where do you have strong contacts? Identifying the right niche will minimize competition and play to your specific strengths. It’s best to identify up-and-coming niches that aren’t saturated.
Laser-target your prospects
Branding is primarily a B2B service. This makes identifying prospects and reaching out to them a bit more complicated. Because the prospect pool is much smaller than that for a product-based business, you have the opportunity to carefully calibrate your approach to potential clients.
Once you’ve identified your areas of strength, it’s a good idea to do deep research into potential prospects in that field. Visit their websites, take a look at the social media profiles of their decision-makers. Evaluate potential prospects to understand if they have a branding need, and what it might be. Only approach them once you’re armed with this information.
If you’re new in the branding business, it’s smart to approach local small businesses. Contracts might be smaller in size. However, small business owners tend to be overlooked by larger agencies, and the one-to-one connect can make it easier to tailor branding campaigns.
Offer a promotional trial
Whenever a client takes you onboard as a branding partner, they’re taking a major risk, in terms of cost, effort and reputation. If you’re new and unproven in the business, the best way to minimize that risk is to offer potential clients a promotional trial.
Promotions work well across industries. A great example here is Netflix. The streaming giant’s free trial offers users complete access to their premium tier offerings for 30 days. This gives potential customers enough time to try out the service and integrate it into their lives. For a number of users, Netflix becomes an important entertainment option by the end of the trial period. This translates directly into sales.
As a branding start-up, it’s a good idea to conduct a limited, specific part of the branding campaign for free and track results against the client’s KPIs. Ensure that your services become a key part of their efforts: the client will be much more likely to work with you.
Build testimonials and case studies
Reputation matters in any industry. But this grows twice over in the branding business. Branding businesses help determine your voice and how businesses perceived by the outside world. An inadequate subcontractor could cause temporary supply-side delays. But a PR gaffe by a branding business could cause permanent damage to a firm’s reputation and goodwill.
This means that reputation and experience are extremely important for branding businesses. A great way to project a solid reputation is through building client testimonials and case studies. Instead of telling a prospect what you could do (if they trust you), tell them what you have done successfully for other clients. If you build a strong relationship with existing clients, they’d be more than happy to provide testimonials. Use these to establish trust with new prospects.
Establish an Online Presence
The Internet plays a huge role in marketing today—from finding prospects, to communication, to online campaigns, there is a lot your branding firm can do with just an Internet connection.
Over the past decade, Internet connectivity alone has propelled countless firms towards success. OnePlus is a phone manufacturer that banked its initial success almost entirely on a strong digital presence. The OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 were exclusively promoted online. A strong brand presence was established by proactively engaging with the tech community and influencers. By limiting physical promotions, OnePlus was able to save on marketing costs and deliver quality phones at half the price of the competition.
Make sure to establish a solid online presence. Build an attractive website. Since you’re in the communications field, it’s especially important that your web content just works. Your homepage is often a prospect’s first impression of your business. Excellent communication there tells them that you’d be able to do a great job with their branding.
Make sure to leverage advertising services across platforms. Google ads and ads on social media platforms such as Facebook allow you to filter and target prospects on very specific criteria.
Pricing and Packages
While your niche may be specific, your clients may still vary in terms of their expense appetite. Build packages across a wide range. This will ensure that you have something to offer to all prospects. If you want to upsell clients on premium services, it’s a good idea to trial these with their existing package. If the client finds, say, social media campaigning, useful, they may add that to their personal service bouquet.
There is no one way to build a great branding business. However, it’s important to keep the fundamentals in mind at all times. Identify your area of expertise and understand who’d be interested in your service. Build trust through consistent, quality delivery and then leverage that for larger projects. It’s not an easy path, but consistent effort will pay off.