Service Businesses Have Brands Too!
Brand messaging is a powerful and important service. At the same time, it can be difficult to convince a company that you can tell their story and present their brand as well as they can. You must be confident and careful in your approach when offering this service. Check out the tips I’ve laid out below, and you'll be better prepared to add this service to your repertoire.
Incorporate Branding in Everything You Do
One of the first things we do when engaging with a prospect is to buy some of the company’s product. In the case of a new launch, we get creative. I will typically order samples of the customer’s product so I can get a true, blind delivery experience. I will also order competitors’ products to get a good sample of what the consumer is seeing.
Our branding entails multiple steps:
- Logging, with photos, every step when opening the package.
- Interviewing the client to learn what is important about his business or product.
- Asking, “How did you get started?,” “Where is it made?,” and “Why did you create this?”
- Creating a document that the team reads as part of the onboarding process.
In one instance, a prospect used a famous retail store as an example of the brand experience he wanted. I ordered a product from that store, photo-logged it, and recreated the experience down to the carton, paper, and gift card, substituting my prospect’s product. This way, I gave the client product the same feel and experience of the retail store he wished to emulate.
People are passionate about their products and brands. When you allow your client to express his passion, you begin to truly feel the brand. Only then can you really go about recreating the experience in your own operation.
Branding for Others
When approaching a possible client about branding his product, do some research in preparation for your discussion. Learn as much about the person, the business, and the state of the industry as you can. Don’t craft PowerPoint presentations about how great your service is. Your prospect probably doesn’t know – or care – about the jargon or details of your industry.
The client wants to talk about his product and brand, and he wants to know you’re listening and sharing his excitement for the product. Speak as little as possible, and when you do, it should be to outline how your team will enhance his customers’ experience. I’ll often scrape a prospect’s logo and mock up a packing slip to emphasize a couple of things:
- How quickly we can respond to his brand, and
- Our understanding of what his logo or brand is, and what’s important about it.
There was a great ad campaign around 20 years ago that said, “We don’t make the ‘X,’ we make the ‘X’ better.” This is the message you want to give the client to show how you’ll help. As a service provider to brands, you are the expert on best practice. Your clients will look to you to give them suggestions on the best way to present their products.
Brand Messaging That Really Stands Out
Make sure you do the simple things right. This may seem obvious, but here are a few easy-to-overlook practices.
Make sure items are:
- Presented neatly,
- On time,
- The right size, color, and style,
- Correctly addressed, and
- Correctly named.
When you add special touches, make sure they’re done well. Gift wrapping should always be neat and crisp. Gift cards or personalization should look customized, not mass-produced. There are a lot of cool things you can do, but if you mess up the basics, you actually create a worse experience.
Helping Your Bottom Line
I rarely have difficult discussions about price with my clients. If, in my first interview, the conversation turns quickly to rates, rather than how we can enhance the brand, I lead the prospect to another provider. We offer competitive rates, but quality comes first. My clients know they will get fair prices for our services.
Many times, service providers will offer very low basic rates and markup “special” services. My clients know that when they ask for additional services, they have upfront, à la carte pricing. They can build the service they want, add or take away as needed, and be able to predict the impact on their costs. When my clients add a service, it’s like ordering dessert. They know it’s going to be good, they know what it costs, and they know they’ll really enjoy it.
When done well, branding is a tremendous service to offer your clients. Do it the right way with an emphasis on how they benefit – and not with a focus on how great you are. It’s a fine line, but when you master it, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors.