BY KEN LUCCI
Easy Ways to Create Brand Impressions, Name Recognition, and Future Sales
I am a huge fan of DIY home-improvement programs and like to do things myself that other people would charge me big bucks for. In terms of building your company brand, there are critical elements that should only be handled by professionals like marketing experts, graphic designers, and digital advertising specialists; however, there are many strategies that any business owner can implement to enhance their brand and generate more sales. Best of all, many of these methods can be done with little help and without paying retail.
First, let’s talk bigger picture: What does “brand” even mean? What does it consist of? Contrary to what many people think, it isn’t just a name and logo. The brand of your company is a group of communication elements continually presented to prospective customers in order to generate consistent responses and actions. Put another way, your brand is the overall personality of your company and how it is communicated to potential customers.
Overall “brand recognition” in your market is the total number of target consumers who instantly know your company when they see communication elements and what they think about your company when they see them. Brand impressions are instances where, when, and how consumers see your brand and how it makes them feel and act. Seems simple right? Well, it can be.
A positive brand impression is important to cultivate because the more we create, the better brand recognition we have in the market—and the more we stand out over our competition, the more our phone rings or inbox fills with new customer inquiries. In other words: cha-ching! Advertising salespeople trying to sell something like billboards, radio commercials, or social media ads use the term “brand impressions” to define the number of times your brand will be seen on their advertising platform. The amount of impressions created is one of the primary measures of paid advertising. In addition, you can create tens of thousands of positive brand impressions inexpensively every day by adopting and perfecting some of the concepts below.
Why is this so important?
A positive brand impression is the key to establishing and building consumer recognition of who you are and what you do. Ultimately, you want to place your brand in front of as many potential customers as possible, have them get to know you, and then buy your services. Continually placing your brand in the right places is critical to success and revenue growth in your market. We’re lucky because we have our own rolling billboards with our fleet, and utilizing them properly will help make your phone ring more with sales opportunities.
Strategy #1: Increase your branding of fleet vehicles. Tastefully branding every one of your vehicles with your logo is the least expensive way to create thousands of brand impressions every day. The bigger the vehicle, the more comprehensive the message could be. Sedans, SUVs, and vans should be branded on all sides; namely, the front license plates, small decals on sides, and on the trunk or rear luggage door. “Tastefully,” in this case, means your logo and name. Worried about affiliate reactions? Ask what their expectations are. Most affiliate customers see only the sides of your vehicle briefly so if you have real concerns, de-brand the sides of one or two vehicles during peak affiliate periods.
Larger passenger vehicles should have larger branding, including your logo and phone number. One place that is practically a blank canvas is the back of motorcoaches and minibuses. Think about placing a decal showing your entire fleet on the back with your phone number. Your vehicles have the potential to be message boards and the more they are out on the road, the more positive impressions they make.
Strategy #2: Create an inside vehicle/tablet presentation. Every day we have captive audiences in our vehicles who should know everything we do. Think about buying inexpensive tablets for in-vehicle presentations or creating a laminated two-sided capability card that shows all the ways customers can use your business—just make sure that you’re not imposing on clients who regard our vehicles as mobile offices and don’t want their calls and work interrupted. Always include promotional offers, special opportunities, and calls to action.
Strategy #3: Stage branded vehicles at high-traffic events and locations. Think about any community event where there are hundreds, even thousands, of people attending, and that is where to place a vehicle on display—legally and with permission, of course. Holiday parades; community fairs; local sporting events; car, boat, or wedding shows (try hosting your own); or a celebration at a business like a jeweler, real estate office, or exotic car dealer are all options. Place offer cards on the vehicle, or better yet create a “register to win” opportunity to capture prospective customer data to add to your email list.
Strategy #4: Brand your chauffeurs. Make sure every chauffeur has a nametag with your logo, personalized business cards, and can briefly recite what your company does. Consider paying them a bonus or commission or offering other perks for bringing in new customers.
Strategy #5: Participate in charity events. If you want to do business with the wealthiest people in your area—many of whom are business owners and executives—take part in charity galas in your region. Donate live auction items that involve a night out in a vehicle and dinner at a great restaurant in your area. Promotion-minded restaurants will usually give you a certificate for live auctions.
Strategy #6: Partner with restaurants. If you think our business is competitive, the restaurant business is even more so. Partner with restaurants that have private dining rooms and co-market with them. Share databases and offer group lunch or dinner packages on their website and yours that include transportation.
Strategy #7: Advertise in country club and community association newsletters. Country clubs and homeowner associations are always looking for benefits for their members and residents. Create a program to become a preferred vendor and offer members special pricing and services not available to the general public in exchange for promotional advertising and eblasts.
Strategy #8: Barter rides for advertising. Radio and television stations have a need for transportation services, and many will create barter arrangements in exchange for advertising. Approach them with a program where high-retail trip charges are exchanged in part for advertising campaigns. However, never exchange dollar for dollar: Always mark up prices for bartered rides.
Strategy #9: Barter rides for sponsorships, tickets, and event participation. Sporting, theater, and entertainment venues have a great need for our services and all of them sell sponsorships. The best sponsorships place a high value on trips and guaranteed transportation revenue in exchange for very low dollar outlay on your part.
Strategy #10: Create “best of” lists for your website and cross-promote with a partner. Post lists in categories, such as Best Restaurants for Group Private Dining, Most Romantic Restaurants, or Best Corporate Outing Locations for your website with a simple “submit your email to receive the list” form and follow up with an offer specific to this audience.
There are thousands of ways to build your brand and grow sales that are inexpensive, easy to implement, and will help foster great relationships. I encourage every operator to think way outside the box to promote your business. You and your staff should be the best brand ambassadors for your company. [CD0220]
Ken Lucci is a consultant to the chauffeured transportation and hospitality industries. He can be reached at Klucci@drivingyourincome.com.