SMBs are not growing: Is Brand Manager the Missing factor?
SMBs are driven by two major objectives, improving profitability and increasing the turnover. To achieve this end they hire a sales head and build a sales team. I urge you to consider something with this regard. The success or failure of this team will not only depend not on their sales techniques but also on your brand value. SMBs try to fix their sales problems by fixing their sales teams. This never works. Even if you get positive sales and your sales team is able to meet its target, still getting repeat sales will be difficult. Your sales team must be able to differentiate your brand in the eyes of your prospective customers. There are many competing products out there and competition is cut-throat. If you want to control a big share of this evolving market you need to have brand recognition. You will get that recognition when your brand communication evolves to match the new turns the markets take.
It is important to highlight your unique characteristics to the market and to create a differentiation between you and your competition.
This consistency in communication can only be achieved if you have a person who is responsible and accountable for it. The best person with the required skill set is the brand manager. Brand manager along with your sales head, finance head and your operations head, is an integral part of your core team. It is my experience that without a Brand Manager’s exclusive services, businesses more often than not falter.
Here is what you’re missing out if you haven’t hired a brand manager yet:
Brands are built through consistent tone and form of communication. All proprietors understand the market and business better than their peers. Yes, I know it sounds very simple. Yet, I have noticed proprietors fail to implement their wisdom as a viable branding strategy. A brand manager will help you achieve that.
There was a time in the 80s when pidilite was still a SMB. Their product fevicol had not become a household name. So they changed their brand communication to target both normal consumers and carpenters who use adhesives the most. Their quirky campaigns resonated with both the audiences. The brand is now a multi-national brand with sales in over 55 countries.
2.Analysing Consumer Feedback
What if your sales are failing? What will if your brand fails to get the recognition it needs? A brand manager will analyse the consumer feedback and create a strategy to re-brand and re-launch your services.
About a few years ago I noticed a change in Reliance Retail’s food division. Before they had three different brands of stores that Reliance Food Retail had. They were Reliance Fresh, Reliance Super and Reliance Mart. They also had an online store Reliance Fresh Direct. Along with all these brands Reliance also had a Reliance Market which used to cater to distributors. The clutter of brands caused a lot of confusion in the minds of the consumer. This was evident from various reports published back then. Reliance since then has reduced the number of brands to Reliance Fresh and Reliance SMART with Reliance SMART clearly taking the lead. This essential re-branding and re-launching could only have been achieved by a strong branding team.
3.Product Development and Pricing
Brand strategy and communication are essential elements of product development and its pricing. Pricing of the product is a function of its brand positioning. A product that is meant to be a premier product has to be priced high to make it exclusive. To set the price of a product a thorough analysis of the competition is required. To design a product also, brand positioning is of the essence. What all products fall under the ambit of your brand? Can they all be developed and offered? A premier brand has to develop products that look and feel exclusive. The packaging is also driven by a products brand communication and it is an essential aspect of branding.
I recently had the pleasure of working with Rida apparels to develop a new brand for them called Lukka Chhupi. I was involved from the inception of this idea. It was my team that suggested this name and named all the products of the brand. The proprietor of the company had a clear idea about the products he wanted to offer. These products were meant for kids. We suggested the brand name Lukka Chhupi because it captured the essence of childhood. Its innocence and its light-heartedness. The brand was positioned to be a premier brand. Hence, the packaging was developed accordingly to be premier and rich. The look and feel of the products are very exclusive. The communication strategy of the brand was simple. Re-imagine childhood and make ordinary moments into something extraordinary.
4.Planning and Execution of Marketing Communication
All brand communication has to be strategically placed to garner the highest views. This requires a proper budget and understanding of various media to spend the budget. A brand manager effectively calculates the budget that can be spent on advertising and ensures its optimum utilisation. This is where a brand manager’s creativity is most utilized.
More and more brands are now using digital marketing to launch their products. However, digital space is crowded and you could get lost in the crowd. How do you target your consumer on digital space? Take a moment here and google the phrase “Growth Kidhar Hai”
We used this phrase to distinguish our agency from the rest in digital space. The idea of doing this developed from key consumer insight and that insight was that all the SMBs are looking for sustainable growth. They often search the internet looking for solutions to their brands. Hence, we opted for a strong digital media presence and targeted this key phrase that is used colloquially by new entrepreneurs we figured out the best way to position our marketing agency. Such insights are the key to developing your brand presence.
5.Consumer Relationship Management
There can be no sustained growth without consumer relationship management. A brand manager will help you come up with a comprehensive strategy to build a long term relationship with customers. This can be achieved by devising a good loyalty reward program and building up the cost of losing your services.
A brand manager also keeps track of your customers and addresses their complaints. This is especially true in the digital era when people are quick to give bad reviews
Uber is the best example of customer relationship management. Their branding headed by a brand manager keeps a track of all the ‘uber’ mentions on social media and web space using unique software. Their quick response to complaints was detrimental in maintaining their brand image. There was an endless stream of complaints about bad behaviour by cab drivers. Uber took quick actions to satisfy the consumer’s demands and ensured that there were no more ill-feelings towards the brand. This also prevented damaging lawsuits that could have wrecked the company. In-fact the customers appreciated the quick response and gave Uber a good reputation.
6.Coordination and Communication
To create a sustainable brand communication it is essential to get all the people working for your brand on the same page. A Brand Manager does the essential job pf communicating with various teams and ensuring that everyone is aware of the brand and its objectives. A brand manager is a critical link between design, production and sales in a company.
The multinational finance firm Aviva had a problem. Their employees at the grassroots level distrusted the upper management. This led to problems implementing the brand strategy on the ground. To solve this issue the new CEO along with his branding team of the company came up with a symbol and a strategy for internal engagement. This was called Aviva Koru. Koru is an ancient Maori symbol of the tribal New Zeland people which signifies strength. This Koru was distributed along with 5 branches of ferns to explain the five key aspects of the new brand strategy. The lesson here is that the amount of time a company spends understanding the consumer should also be utilised to understand its own employees. This can only be done with a competent branding team by your side. Brands work inside out and it is important for everyone in the company to be on the same page about the brand.
7.Trends and Brand Connect
Trends and topic of discussion keep changing on social media. The currency of modern advertising is the attention you can bring to yourself in this noise.
Hence, it is essential to create a brand connect with certain trending topics. A brand manager keeps track of the latest developments in your field of concern and ensures that your brand connects with these latest trends.
The best example of branding with the latest trending topics is the condom company Durex. The company through its social media page has successfully connected itself with the trending topics of the day. Its minimalistic tone and good use of moment marketing has ensured that the brand stays visible across the clutter of social media.
The biggest problem with SMBs is that the proprietor tries to handle all aspects of marketing by themselves. This often puts too much stress on them. They’re unable to keep up with the changing trends and there is miscommunication across the lines in their company. The best way to avoid all these issues is to hire a Brand Manager.
Some of the SMBs solve their branding and advertising issues by hiring the agency but in most of the cases I have noticed that the communication gap develops. There are the cases when agency keep on convincing them on their work rather then coming up with better campaigns.
You will need a dedicated person who will translate your efforts and vision in a proper marketing lingo and advertise it to the world. Make brand manager a part of your core team and start actively developing your brand. This could mean changing brand names, re-launching products or changing your entire media strategy. In the end when your business shifts from pushing sales to pulling sales all this effort in branding will be worth it. Your business is unique and requires to presented as such to the market. So stand apart in this crowded market place. Hire a brand manager now.