EAG Advertising & Marketing has a knack for small business marketing. The Kansas City agency has carved out a niche and prides itself on “big brand strategies for small business.” Founder and CEO Paul Weber shares tips for acting like a big brand while managing resources like a small business.
Know where you stand
To craft a successful marketing campaign, the first thing small companies must do is determine where they stand against competitors. What’s their competitive edge? It better not be price.
“Price is the least common denominator, and you always lose based on price because there’s no attachment,” Weber said.
Southwest Airlines, for example, built a loyal following that no other airline has matched, he said.
“They made us believe they are different in the experience. They created a competitive position where none existed, and it’s not based on price. They made it fun, they made it friendly, and they made it different.”
A number of businesses try to be everything to everyone, but that’s a surefire way to lose, he said. There are too many fronts to win, and it results in a forgettable business among consumers.
“You have to pick one area and … be the best in the world at that and own it.”
Emotion drives most consumers’ purchases, but too many marketing campaigns leave this out, he said, instead focusing on practicality or price. But consumers will pay more for emotion. A security company isn’t just selling a home alarm system — he’s selling safety for a family. Harley Davidson has built up loyalty to the point where customers ink the logo on their bodies.
But no one’s loyal to the cable or phone company because they feel no emotional attachment, Weber said.
“The only communication they have is a bill 12 times a year. A lot of businesses don’t realize that they’re doing the same thing. They don’t touch their customers in any way except to send them a bill 12 times a year. That’s not a very warm, fuzzy kind of relationship.”
A variety of avenues exist to tap into consumers’ emotions and create a connection. Small businesses can talk to customers and listen to their stories. Why did they choose the company? When are they happiest? The insight can be incorporated into marketing campaigns. Businesses also can do things such as send a thank-you card for a referral or for paying a bill on time.
“Doing the unexpected is always important. Once you’ve connected with them emotionally, loyalty goes up considerably, and they stay a customer longer. … If none of your customers say they love you, then those are customers at risk of being lost.”
Consistency in messaging is key for building a customer base, he said. Tech-savvy consumers will decide in a fraction of a second whether to linger on a website or move on to another to find the product they want.
That means businesses need to have a polished, succinct and consistent message across multiple media channels. If a brand is constantly changing its message and has too many simultaneously, consumers can’t relate, Weber said.
Boulevard Brewing Co. is a prime example of a company that has mastered its messaging, he said. Ownership changed, but the messaging didn’t.
“That brand has not changed at its core, in terms of the product they put on the shelf, how it looks, how it sounds. … When a company can stay consistent like that and good in spite of aggressive growth, it’s a victory for them. That’s something to be modeled.”
Kansas City Business Journal