|Residential Lighting: What makes brand-building difficult for small stores?
Larry Mersereau: They think branding is for IBM. They don’t think a little business can do it. Also, messages have to be reinforced and repeated, which means a commitment to media. Finally, they get bored with their ads and want to change them. Every time they change the ads, they go back to branding ground zero.
RL: What would you recommend?
LM: Being a “specialty” store is an area of differentiation. Focus on your expertise, service and advice. Then, develop a promotional message. All your advertising and PR has to say, “This is why we’re different.” You need to be there with an ad that looks exactly the same each week.
RL: Must every detail be the same?
LM: Ads should have the same border, logo in the same place, same typeface, same size photography, always in the same spot. You can advertise different products, but the layout is always the same. The headline always talks about benefits, and that’s really important. What people read first is 80 percent responsible for the success or failure of the ad. Don’t use the company name as a headline.
RL: Is there a formula?
LM: I call it my “magic formula of persuasion.” Psychologists have found a motivating sequence of information to persuade people, and it works for political messages, sales pitches and marketing and advertising copy.
First, grab their attention in the headline. Then, promise something: “If you keep reading, we will make your life better.” Next, prove you
can do it: certifications, memberships, years in business. Then comes the proposition: “Come in,” “Pick up the phone,” “Go to our Web site.” Whatever you want them to do, make it easy, be sure it’s free and be sure no risk is involved.
RL: What can we do in the showroom?
LM: At first, customers don’t know anything about you. Their first exposure might be driving by, and they step up the “brand ladder”: “Hey, there’s a store that specializes in lighting.”
If you sell only high-end product and they come in, and the front is unclean or in poor repair, you may lose them. They may step off the ladder. Instead, you have to look like the kind of place they want to shop.
Advertising doesn’t have to sell; it has to invite customers to take the next step up the brand ladder. Hence, branding is about being regular, ongoing and consistent. The top wrung of the ladder is achieved when the customer insists on your store and won’t think of buying anywhere else.
Larry Mersereau is a motivational speaker, trainer and author of several books, including STAND OUT!—How to Position and Grow Your Business With a POWERFUL Brand Identity. Based in Valparaiso, IN, his PromoPower Presentations and Consulting can be found online at PromoPower.com.