Build Your Brand Regardless of Your Budget

Thanks to social media, small businesses can build recognizable names

We’re longtime fans of results-based marketing; money you spend on a promotion needs to provide tangible rewards (i.e., money in the bank). Not that branding, or getting your name out there, isn’t worthwhile—only that it’s hard to do within a typical small jeweler’s budget. Creating a brand requires generating instant awareness for your store and your product, ideally to the extent that when people think of purchasing products you sell, they think of your store first. We’re all familiar with such brands as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Nike. These companies spend millions of dollars each year to elicit a Pavlovian response when you hear their name.

Branding can and does work, but it takes a major investment to create this level of consumer automation, and this is where most small businesses struggle. Traditionally, if you wanted to spend money “getting your name out there,” you had to be prepared to make it a long-term—and costly—objective.

But the game has changed. Social media has provided corner stores with the opportunity to create affordable identities for themselves. In fact, if there is a lesson to be learned from those who have made a success out of social media so far, it’s that social media is almost all about branding.

Those businesses that have looked at social media as an extension of their traditional marketing and peppered their Facebook pages with a succession of posts about their products and what they can sell have probably found those pages languishing. It’s the businesses that have engaged clients, built reputations online, and used social media as a forum to create identities that have gained the most. In the same way Henry Ford brought automobiles to the masses, social media has done the same for the art of brand building.

Traditional stores that have concentrated on getting instant returns from their marketing spend (“Here is today’s deal—buy it now”) need to think a little more long-term about how to spend their money. There is still a cost to brand building, even via social media, because the time factor in this form of do-it-yourself marketing is higher than simply sending an advertisement to your local paper or radio station. In fact, we suggest that any store serious about social media devote a portion of the wage costs of the staff member involved to its marketing budget. Retailers should also consider spending money on online advertising, such as Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Both work under a similar system: You choose the market you wish to reach, prepare the ad yourself, then ­determine how much you’re willing to pay for potential customers to interact with it. Both forms are pay-per-use—meaning there is only a cost should someone click on the ad—and both provide excellent metrics showing who interacts and responds to each advertisement. We recommend you set a budget and prepare three or four adverts that can be tested and improved upon.

Branding a business now means buying a Google ad.

Now more than ever, the chance to refocus on brand building raises the question for the typical small business: What is the point of difference I can provide over my competition? It’s no longer about today’s special or this month’s offer; rather, it’s about a sustainable strategy that sets you apart from your competition. In essence, what does your business stand for?

For traditional jewelers competing in an online world, the real point of difference is the integrity and trust they’ve built on a history of brick-and-mortar trading. After all, few businesses rely on trust quite like the traditional ­jeweler. Why else would people hand over large sums of money for something that could, for all they know, be glass?

But faced with a choice between the seller they don’t know and the one they do, reputation still carries some sway. Smart sellers can use the Internet as a means to enhance their reputation and brand. The very medium that is creating the greatest threat to ­jewelers worldwide just might give them the best chance to compete and survive.

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