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With Amazon credited with about a third of U.S. online retail sales and estimated to contribute .51 cents of every dollar in U.S. e-commerce growth, (source: Internet Retailer) the relevance of brand – apart from the mighty Amazon® brand – may seem to be eroding. However, considering Amazon’s huge market share, the differentiating value of brand is more important than ever.
To a small retailer, Amazon can be both a friend and a foe. Building a brand is one of the best strategies for concurrently competing with Amazon as a retailer and partnering with Amazon as a seller. A brand name separates a product from the pack and helps a product get found. According to a Forrester Research study, about one third of all online product searches in the U.S. start at Amazon. Brand names have the distinct advantage of showing up in search results, based on the search terms shoppers use.
What Does Brand Mean?
Brand is not just a catchy name or cool logo; it’s the association of good feelings with the name that makes shoppers choose a particular product or service. A common marketing adage is shoppers buy on emotion and justify a purchase with logic. We choose one brand over another because the product looks better, feels better, smells better, tastes better or promises to make us better. We choose a brand because of this personal connection formed by our own senses, a feeling of “it’s right for me.”
Brand is just as important for the shoppers who are less swayed by emotion and more influenced by price. To many shoppers, the Amazon brand is associated with reliable service, value and selection. Value-seeking shoppers don’t always buy the cheapest offerings on Amazon. Instead, they use emotions to sort through the products, looking at reseller ratings, brands they trust and product reviews at a site where they feel they belong. The feeling of brand as a shared community is especially true for the millions of Amazon Prime members who subscribe to brand loyalty with an annual fee.
How Do You Get People to Pay More For a Name?
As a marketing professional, I know brand building strategies. As a shopper, I fall for them every time. Recently, I stood in the grocery store condiments aisle, weighing the pros and cons of which bottle of Worcestershire sauce to buy. The Lea & Perrins® bottle caught my eye, as its iconic paper wrap reminded me of my mom. It’s the brand my mother always bought to make her delicious grilled hamburgers. This bottle costs 50% more than the other Worcestershire sauce brands, but emotion and brand beat budget.
Lea & Perrins sets a great example of effective brand building.
The iconic Lea & Perrins® paper-wrapped bottle.
The Lea & Perrins unique packaging adds perceived value and sends the right message of quality: this brand has put a lot of thought and care into their product. Plus, the product looks better than the other brands on the grocery store shelf (or Amazon search results), so it’s easy to assume it will taste better too.
“The Famous Paper Wrap” story is printed on the Lea & Perrins packaging, inviting the consumer to be part of the rich heritage of this brand, which dates back to 1837. This feeling of shared history strengthens brand loyalty. Not only is this the brand my mother used, but it’s also the brand my grandmother and generations before her used. I must continue the tradition.
Lea & Perrins conveys the premium packaging = quality message on all their marketing channels, making good use of the clever tag line “Unwrap the Flavor.” The same messages of quality and tradition (plus the same recipe my mother used) are easy to find on the official Lea & Perrins website – as well as their brand page at Amazon.
Make a Name For Yourself
For a new business that hasn’t been around since 1837, the same principles apply:
- Make your name synonymous with the value your products offer.
- Tell a unique story to differentiate your product from the others.
- Consistently reflect these values and narrative in every detail of your business – your customer service team, your packaging, your emails, your website and your social media channels.
Building a Brand on Amazon
It may seem counterintuitive for new or smaller businesses to gain brand awareness in Amazon’s massive marketplace, but with the right product ads, product listings and messaging, it can be a very lucrative way to grow a business.
With over 24 years of experience, Cajam Marketing can help you develop and nurture your brand. Our online marketplace specialists can guide you through selling and advertising on Amazon, Houzz, Jet and other digital marketplaces. Learn more.
This marketing tip is inspired by a weekend endeavor involving a ski mask, baseball helmet, ladder, flashlight, can of Raid® and a six pack. As my husband fired up the grill for a relaxing weekend barbeque, he noticed a swarm of industrious carpenter bees buzzing around the roof. “Why don’t you call an exterminator?” I asked as he scrolled through images and information about his new nemesis. “I’ve got this,” he replied. I noted the carpenter bee genus name xylocopa contains “loco” – the Spanish word for insane.
My husband rallied some neighbors to help, and the amateur carpenter bee hunters gathered to strategize their attack. Meanwhile, a group of neighborhood kids assembled to place bets on which dad would fall off the roof first. Miraculously, no one was hurt during the mission (including most of the bees). The carpenter bee hunters heartily congratulated each other on a job well done and fired up the grill.
The next day, I noticed my husband sitting in his car in the driveway for an unusually long time. I followed his gaze to the roof, where the carpenter bees were back at work. I heard his voice from the car window, “What’s the number for the exterminator?”
What DIY Projects Can Teach Us About Marketing
What does this teach us about marketing, other than exterminators are missing big opportunities if they don’t plan direct mailings and paid search campaigns around carpenter bee swarms? The other valuable lesson is determining when to call in the pros.
Effective marketing doesn’t require a medical license or an advanced degree, so it’s often treated as a do-it-yourself project. Just as it takes extensive training and licensing to become a pest control professional, marketing is more than being a good communicator or knowing your products well.
How A Small Business Can Look Big
Selling or promoting a product or service requires experience and know-how in a variety of channels including digital advertising, websites, digital marketplaces, print marketing and direct mail, to list a few. Big companies, with teams of marketing professionals on staff and bigger ad budgets, obviously have an advantage over smaller competitors. Outsourcing some marketing projects to the right agency can help a small business look big on a much tighter budget.
An Informal Google Search Case Study
To illustrate, think about how a local pest control company competes against a national brand. Based on what we know about how people look for information, most will search Google® or ask local friends – and many will ask for recommendations from friends on Facebook – all from a mobile device. Here is a screenshot of a Google search for “local exterminator.” As you can see, national brands with sizeable advertising budgets take up a good chunk of the first page. However, the local business that sets up “Google My Business” correctly visibly has a head start over other organic results.
Next, the pest control shopper will either call the local exterminator, or more than likely continue to research by checking out the website and reviews. Is the website professional looking? Does this look like a trustworthy business? Are there customer testimonials? Most importantly, is the contact information easy to find? Can an appointment be set up online? Is this company using retargeting ads on Facebook and other places to remind the shopper about this business?
Jumping ahead, the local exterminator gets the business, and the customer is happy. The exterminator gets permission to add this customer to the contact list. Now the exterminator can send an email next year to remind the customer that carpenter bees will soon be in his/her area and it’s time to schedule an appointment. The exterminator will also ask the customer to share a review on the website. This customer will more than likely respond to the original Facebook post, thanking all the friends for sharing recommendations and raving about this exterminator.
Allocating Resources and Time
This happy ending – or more accurately, happy beginning of a repeat customer, (plus the new customers this happy customer generates) sounds pretty easy. However, the small business local exterminator is very busy controlling pests and scheduling more appointments, leaving little time for marketing. Plus the exterminator knows a lot about chemistry and entomology, but isn’t as well-versed in digital advertising or email marketing. This is the time to call in the marketing pros.
Cajam Marketing helps lots of small businesses navigate the ever-evolving marketing channels including digital advertising, web services, marketplaces, content marketing and analytics. With over 24 years in the business, we know a lot about marketing – and not much about carpenter bees. Contact us and find out how we can help your business.