MSME, Branding, TradeLeaves, B2B marketplace

Build the Brand before You Sell: Simple Branding Hacks for MSMEs

1. Are you a small or medium business owner struggling to sell?

2. Are  your customers more sensitive to  price than the  value you are creating?

3. Is your customer relation purely transactional?

4. Are you scared of the competition?

5. Are your customers not able to differentiate your products from that of your competitors?

6. Are you struggling to get repeat customers?

7. Are you not getting enough direct purchases or walk-ins?

8. Are you losing a big margin to commissions and payouts?

9. Is your cost of selling drastically increasing without a substantial increase in the revenue?

10. Are you worried that your best salesperson may quit anytime?

If the answer to any or all of the above questions is a yes, then you need to rethink and revisit your selling tactics.

Albert Einstein once remarked, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The same thought applies to your business too.

Assuming that your product addresses a market need or solves a problem and you already have found that there is a good product-market fit, the one crucial thing that remains is brand building.

Building an everlasting and growing business has a lot do with branding it right. You may be selling stationery or apparel, the impression that your business creates on your customers is what will eventually drive sales. Branding is about adding values at different stages of the customer life cycle, beyond the tangible products.

“A brand is a voice and a product is a souvenir.” – 

Lisa Gansky, Co-founder and CEO of Global Network Navigator and Ofoto

Building a brand is all about creating a perception in the minds of your customers about your product and the company. It has the power to influence a customer’s buying decision.  Here’s a simple guide to MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) branding that can help you to build a brand and  sell better.

1. Avoid being generic

How distinct is your brand? What makes it stand out? Why should customers come to you? Define what your business is and how it differs from the rest of the market players. Understand what’s unique about your product/service and present the concept meaningfully to your customers. In other words, identify your unique selling propositions (USPs) and communicate them with the right target audience.

2. Create an identity

Your brand identity is what stays with your customer. The purpose of brand identity is to create recall in your customers’ minds when they think of your business. To know what your identity is, find out if you are a personal brand, product brand, or a market brand.

  • If your business principles are stronger than the product, then you are a personal brand. Your image and reputation of your business (or you) precedes. Take Elon Musk for example. While he has successful businesses under his name, he is a brand in himself, where people seek his products because of his reputation.
  • If your business solves a problem or fulfills a need, then you are a product brand. Your brand becomes synonymous to the product.

Most essential goods, healthcare products etc. are primarily product brands. Aspirin is a classic example of this. Although Aspirin was branded by Bayer, it came to be recognized as the drug itself.

  • If your business markets to a specific community, then it’s a market brand. For example, winter gear and outdoor brands like North Face primarily targets people in colder regions or campers and trekkers.

Depending on what you are offering, you can decide on your brand identity.

3. Focus on the user experience

Customers look for experience from brands, beyond tangible benefits. Building an incredible user experience is an essential part of branding. With technology, focusing on UX is easier. Emphasize the customer journey when they visit your website. Is the instant reaction welcoming or repelling? Choose colors, visuals, typography, etc. that speak the brand’s personality while making it pleasant for your customers. These little things add up to delivering an experience that your customers will always associate with your brand. Maintain consistency across all the platforms so that customers can recall and recognize you easily. Frequent changes and variations may distort the perception.

4. Boost the online visibility

Your brand will grow when you constantly remind your audience about what it’s worth. Through the power of advertising, social conversations, and similar publicity techniques, you can find your way into your customers’ psyche.

5. Be a part of your customer’s life

Your brand goes way beyond transactions. Your business brand needs to be a part of your customer’s life. Be found at the right places, like B2B marketplace, social platforms, online forums and communities, and so on. Even when you are not selling, your brand can be a part of a trending conversation, a social cause, or simply an entity with opinions, ideas, and knowledge. This makes your customers feel that you are a part of their life and daily activities and not just a name.

6. Use the power of Data and Technology

Being an MSME, you may not have vast resources at your disposal. You may not be able to run expensive Ads on TV or sponsor popular sports events. What you can do is use the power of data and technology platforms like online marketplaces and social media networks to build your brand. These platforms already have a huge amount of data and a wide reach. On these platforms, you just need to identify your right target audience and reach them. If you are in the wholesale business or B2B market, you can use social media networks like LinkedIn and YouTube. There are dedicated and powerful online B2B marketplaces like TradeLeaves that will help you reach and connect to buyers and suppliers in domestic and international markets. There are endless possibilities. So start exploring.

There is no monopoly in today’s market and everything can be easily substituted. But when you develop a brand that adds value, connects with your customers, and is unique, you can create a lasting impression and boost sales.

Advertising is one sure way of building a brand. If you are short on the budget, you can always find smart ways of advertising effectively through B2B marketplaces. 

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