Branding is one of those concepts that is theoretically simple, yet more difficult to effectively put into action. The way that your brand is perceived on a number of factors coming together, from customer service and the quality of your marketing to the shape, color and sizes of your packaging or functionality of your services. Branding is an area that small business owners might associate more with larger corporations, but the reality is that business owners are able to pursue branding just as, if not more effectively than larger companies because of the higher degree of intimacy they can create in their customer relationships. Business owners can build their brand by internally promoting the values that they stand for and encouraging their employees to serve as brand ambassadors, but ultimately when they want to know how their branding campaigns are being perceived, they need to turn their lens in on themselves from the outside. Gather outside perspective on your brand from customers. If you aren’t sure

Social media is a dynamic tool that business owners can get much value out of, from mining new prospects, networking, and soliciting constructive feedback that they can use to shape the direction of their policies. This last activity can be particularly beneficial, giving you the benefit of direct, undiluted customer feedback that has the potential to shape the way that you grow and shift the priority of goals, but hopefully not before doing your due diligence. Just because a customer suggests something via social, that does not mean that suggestion represents the wishes of your entire market. Business owners still need to look before they leap when it comes to the way they handle and react to customer suggestions. While a single customer may have a good idea, in another, just as likely scenario, they may have an individual preference or opinion that is not widely shared by the rest of your customers. The good news is that testing the popularity of a proposed change to

In a recent article that appeared on suceedinginsmallbusiness.com, a case study was examined that detailed the dangers of both bandwagon thinking and blind overconfidence in relation to the Massachusetts housing market. One of the major takeaways of the piece was that confidence can be a good thing, but overconfidence can have major implications on the ability of an entrepreneur to exercise sound judgement. How can you tell if you or a business partner are confident to the point that it jeopardizes your business? When does  healthy level of confidence turn into an excessive one? The interesting and potentially complicating factor in diagnosing overconfidence is the fact that it is pretty universally considered a virtue, especially among entrepreneurs. Having a real belief in the ability of your business to succeed is essentially a prerequisite for entrepreneurship- if you don’t believe in your idea then nobody else will. That being said, when confidence gets in the way of being realistic and productive, it’s a dangerous situation. Here are

Customer service is a hugely important part of running a business, since it is directly related to making sure that your customers are getting what they expect from you, and if not, are having their issues addressed, preventing them from taking steps such as leaving negative reviews or spreading their grievances through word of mouth. While maintaining a strong level of service, business owners should be aware of the types of issues that customers really dislike that can make them more likely to take negative actions. Not being able to get in touch with anyone. When a customer has an issue, one of the worst feelings is when they are unable to get in touch with anyone from the business in question in order to fix it. Having poor quality customer service reps on the phone is arguably better than having frustrated customers hit a voice-mail or  send emails that never get answered. Ignoring complaints is a surefire way to turn a minor customer service issue

  Business owners need customer perspectives in order to move their businesses forwards. Without feedback from their target market, their marketing efforts can’t be based on anything stronger than sales data and conjecture. Leverage your customer service department to collect data on customer preferences. There is a reason why hiring customer service reps isn’t as simple as one might think, and the reason is not only should they be able to effect positive resolutions for customer issues, but they also need to be able to manage collecting and organizing customer feedback into usable formats. Engage as many methods as possible for capturing feedback. There are plenty of ways to gather customer feedback, so why not use more than one to get as much usable data as possible? Physical mailers- a physical survey either sent in the mail or distributed person to person can be sent back in exchange for a customer reward. It is usually a god idea to provide an incentive for returning a request for

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