If this was written twenty years ago it would be called Marketing Services Abound. As we advance into the twenty-first century, we continue to see the definition blur between marketing and branding. We seem to be in love with all things brand and forget that good marketing must include good branding.
Today, to an increasing degree, the search engine optimizers are becoming the new brand builders. No matter what you call it, the end game is to move products or services on an ongoing and increasing basis. Basically, the goal is the acquisition, retention, and growth of paying customers. Each of these areas requires what we now call collectively, “branding services.”
Customer Acquisition. Attracting a first-time customer requires the compelling communication of a valuable offer before, at, and after the point of sale. Copywriters can help with your brand story, brand promise, image and perception. Marketing consultants can help with your brand positioning, pricing, packaging, and advertising. Sales consultants can help you with your distribution management. Graphic artists can help with your brand design, including your logo design and branded materials. Website designers can help you with website themes and plug ins. A clear direction from you about your intentions and goals is required to get the best from these contracted services.
Customer Retention. Customer loyalty is a function of several factors, including continuing and uninterrupted access to product, quality control, distribution management, customer loyalty programs, continued relevance, competitive pricing, honoring the brand promise, and the customer’s positive perception of the brand. Here, the relationship between sales, marketing, customer service, and production is key. Business consultants specializing in these areas can help. Sales consultants can help you develop customer loyalty incentive programs that reward both sales people and return customers.
Customer Growth. You can get assistance growing your customer base from an array of branding services. Comments from your satisfied customers, publication of your success stories, and third party endorsements can all benefit from publicists. Search engine optimizers can move your site up in the web search rankings. Many marketing and branding services can help you open new markets with advertising, community outreach, and social networking. Promotional products can “brand” everything from tee-shirts to key chains.
New branding service niches seem to pop up every day as the branding industry seeks to become more specialized in each service offering. At the same time, many former marketing companies are reinventing themselves as branding consultants offering one-stop shopping.
The area of personal branding is attracting an ever-increasing smorgasbord of services including training in public speaking, networking for speaking opportunities, body language, dealing with the press, blog writing, book writing, book marketing, webinars, and social networking.
The more you understand the specific job you need done, the better you will be at making the right choice. Ask for references and endorsements from brand owners who have benefited by these services.
If you have a brand, want to build a brand, or are branding yourself, you will have no trouble finding “help.” Just make sure you have the right tool for the job.
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders