Marketing Consultant MJ Thornburg
You can buy a lot of advertising, create a new logo and leave a trail of Tweets and "likes." But what’s really important for building an SMB brand?
Marketing strategist MJ Thornburg has spent over 25 years building brands for some of the largest companies in the U.S., as well as start-ups. For her, it’s all about creating a bigger and better experience – or what she calls a “digital brandformation.”
“I may have a choice of dry cleaners,” she says. “One of them is 'OK.' The other one treats you differently; they have add-on services. They take care of your clothes better. They have social media campaigns and lots of content. They have a 360 degree aproach. They create an overall brand experience for their customer that extends across all of their business touchpoints. That's how business needs to compete today." "
Many SMBs spend most of their marketing dollars on SEO packages and advertising. But in a “digital brandformation,” you want to go beyond the mechanics of SEO. “It's a brand strategy that extends to messaging and content and consistent use of these components," says Thornburg. "For example, what are the value statements or words that are associated with the brand that help people remember you?” she asks.
Ultimately, SMBs need to consciously design their brand strategy – ideally with the help of an objective advisor or agency. “You have got to build your experience,” says Thornburg.
“ A lot of people hear ‘brand’ and they think ‘tagline,’ ‘logo’ and identity,’" Thornburg says. "But it is really about building your experience from start to finish. It is all about differentiation. It is what helps an SMB in a community compete against bigger guys, and stand out in customer minds. Gaining this traction – offline and online –will create organic growth for the business and less reliance on spend as the key driver of business to their doors. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen quickly as long as the tools are in place."
SMBs also need to prioritize their marketing efforts. "There is a lot of pressure to be everywhere,” says Thornburg. "But what are the three or four programs you can test and trial? Do you need online ads? Do you need a formal SEO campaign? Do you need a formal website? The answers are different for every business. "
In some cases, a digital brandformation can save SMBs money. In today’s social media-driven environment, SMBs that can tackle SEO and show support from their community with reviews and social media will often be spending less on advertising. “If you are building and maintaining a brand strategy across all touchpoints, you don’t need to pay for every click or person coming through the door," says Thornburg.
About the Author
Peter Krasilovsky runs Local Onliner, a consulting firm that focuses on how digital channels target local consumers. “Local” has been a focus for him since 1995-96, and the firm's practice now includes search, marketplaces, geotargeting, vertical media and loyalty and promotion services. Peter was Chief Analyst and Vice President for BIA/Kelsey from 2006-2015. He holds an MA from The Annenberg School of Communications at The University of Southern California and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. He currently resides with his wife Sharon in Ashland, Oregon.Follow on Twitter More Content by Peter Krasilovsky