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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Branding Your Business


The particulars of running a successful small business have changed compared with years ago. Customers, in this rocky economy, choose to shop where the brand is valued. Hopefully, the brand they value is your business! Going forward, consumers are looking to brands that are worthy of their trust.

You might be saying: BRANDING??? How do I make my store a brand that customers will want to shop in? I think the most important thing is focus. There is a temptation of store owners to want to be all things to all people. Many store owners think that by doing so, they give a customer more reasons to do business with them. But that is not the way it works. Trying to be too many things to too many customers weakens your brand and often confuses the customer. Know what you do better than anyone else and stick with it. Are you an upscale boutique? Then don’t sell handmade dog toys made by the folks at the local senior center next to angora dog sweaters made in Italy.

Knowing your focus is the first step. Next, according to Mark Geraradot (owner of a strategic branding firm in Indianapolis), look at your shop and pledge to be unique (different from the competition), remain consistent and true to your brand and dedicate yourself to the use of direct, one-to-one marketing. Mr. Geraradot identifies three easy things businesses can do to succeed in the new economy:

1. Differentiate
New product ideas. New services. A new way to approach an old problem. People are hungry for something different.

• At Sloppy Kisses we do a summer Yappy Hour series. We developed and brought this "different" concept to our town a few summers ago and it has helped build customer loyalty. Sloppy Kisses has become the brand that does "different" and fun canine events.

2. Take Time, Make Time
Slow down. The frenzied pace and rush to market for the quick buck is old economy thinking. Think strategic. Think sustainable. Make time to develop a brand strategy and marketing strategy to position yourself differently.

• Customer relationships take time to build. Stay the course, remain passionate about what you do and cater to the customers who shop in your store every week. You are building loyal customers for life!

3. Go Social
Blog now. In case you were expecting to hear that blogging and social marketing were passing phases, it’s official. Blogs and social media are here to stay. The current leaders and tools may change, but traditional advertising went out with the old economy.

• If your time and marketing dollars are limited to just one tool, Facebook rules. For Sloppy Kisses, some typing…one click to submit…and our message (e.g., newest product, upcoming event, lost dog in the area) goes out to 2500+ Facebook fans for free.

Branding doesn’t happen overnight. So stay consistent to what your shop's message is and live it every day. Repetition will reinforce what sets you apart from the other stores. Every interaction with your customers is an opportunity to build trust in your brand. In time, your store will come out on top.

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