Nearly every investor, partner, or journalist I’ve ever spoken to has heard me say, “Building a consumer brand is hard.” In fact, that would be an understatement; a strong consumer brand is like a mint-condition ice sculpture in the dead of summer or sand castles that have survived a wind storm. Imagine walking on water or swimming in quicksand; that’s what it’s like trying to stay top of mind for easily distracted and often forgetful consumers. Doubly so if you naively chose an obscure brand name that no one in the Western Hemisphere can pronounce because it features a pun that no one in the world can grasp. Our failed attempt to build the Seva Call (Save-A-Call) brand was a trial by fire when it comes to driving revenue as a virtual nobody. Here are 5 revenue generating tricks we learned then and continue to use now even after re-branding to our easier to sell TalkLocal brand.
Use Lead Generation Services
If we benefited from patroning our competitors and purchasing their leads, then anyone can. It was tough to admit that we didn’t have the consumer visibility to beat lead generation services at their own game; even tougher was becoming customer to our competitors. Still, we knew that we could win in the end by creating better experiences for businesses and consumers through our free lead previews and real time calls. At smaller scales, buying a lead is far more affordable and effective than a paid ad with its inconsistent returns.
Buy Valuable Adwords
Ordinary ads seek to get consumers to choose their service based on brand messaging, i.e., the words the business uses to persuade. Adwords, on the other hand, prioritizes the consumer’s words: Those they enter into a search engine. So, the consumer is focused more on their own needs as opposed to the words coming from a brand the consumer doesn’t know or trust. The first Adword we ever purchased was Snow Removal and it was during the DC blizzard of 2011. In no time, we were hearing businesses and consumers struggle to pronounce our brand name as they sung our praises. Adwords speaks to actively searching consumers, not those that happen to glance at your promotional offer randomly. So, those consumers are more likely to act, which results in a more salient and memorable experience than anything you could get from a tagline. Not to mention, that high conversion rate means more revenue.
Use Search Engine Optimized Content
Taking the concept of the consumer’s words one step further and substantially cheaper is search engine optimization. SEO lets consumers judge you not by the color of your logo or the strange spelling of your name, but by the quality of your content. After all, it’s what’s inside the website’s main page that counts. And, by generating content responsive to the interests and keyword searches of your target market, you show that there’s something helpful, trustworthy, and personal behind an unfamiliar brand.
Offer Free Trials
People will never quite trust the unknown, but lower the risk and they might just give you a chance to earn their trust and their money down the line. Lots of businesses who didn’t know and trust our obscure sounding brand well enough to hand over their credit card information nevertheless signed up for our free membership. And then, once they earned that trust and the free stuff went away, they upgraded their membership.
While you have a great service that suffers from weak brand awareness, there are other companies who have strong brand recognition yet could use help bringing more or better services to their users. Connect with trusted brands operating in a space relevant to yours, even if they are competitors. A revenue share beats gambling on ads that may not drive any profit at all. So, offering your services or technology to a big brand is a win-win.
I’ve often said, with regards to the interests of my small business clients, that entrepreneurs don’t want fame, they want work. So, it’s almost ironic that it took the consequences of our funny sounding name to push us to adopt that very growth principle, a principle that ultimately helped my company deliver over 1 million calls nationwide. So, for any business out there struggling to gain brand recognition as a means to success, ask yourself to define what success really means for your business and then think outside of the branding box to map a more direct route to fortune.