As founder of Brand Strong Marketing, I am a brand strategy consultant who helps small and mid-size businesses identify their unique brand and use it as a strategic focal point to scale faster by standing out and attracting more clients and top talent employees, faster and easier.
With over 25 years of experience, she has seen what works and how to achieve results. When it comes to branding and marketing, she offers clients a unique mix of both strategy and execution. She’s been fortunate enough to do it all – qualitative research, focus group facilitation, insight analysis, competitive mystery shopping, launching and killing brands, and reinventing and refocusing brands to be stronger.
As well as crafting key brand messages, content creation, thought leadership branding, social media marketing, video marketing, and even international marketing and branding. Her clients rely on her expertise to enter new markets, develop new brand names, and communicate during mergers & acquisitions easier, faster, and more successfully.
☛ BRAND IDENTIFICATION AND STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT
For organizations poised to grow: Get your story straight - define who you are and what you stand for in order to scale faster and easier.
Using a four-phase process, we help companies see who they are, distinguish what makes them uniquely different and valuable, visualize where they are going in the future, identify their ideal target markets, and communicate with clarity and consistency to attract more clients. As an objective third party, we investigate your organization from all sides to develop a clearer sense of how your stakeholders perceive you and what they value most about your product or service. The end result? The ability to attract clients, or top talent, faster, easier, and more effectively.
Brand Identification & Definition | Brand Validation Research | Re-branding Strategy | Go-to-Market Research | Messaging & Positioning Jumpstart | Employer Brand Strategy
☛ MERGER & ACQUISITION BRAND STRATEGY
For organizations looking to grow through a merger or acquisition: Define how your organization will be different post-transaction and how to communicate that to customers and employees.
Brand management is essential during M&A activity. Pre-deal, it is important to understand the brand equity of the firm you are merging with or acquiring. Post-deal close, it is necessary in order to maintain stakeholder loyalty, drive the organization towards integration, and deliver cost savings. By working with the executive team to focus on the brand as the focal point for communicating this change within the organization, we help companies to focus on future growth; integrate faster; save time, money, and resources by streamlining their brand architecture; and maintain loyalty with customers, employees, investors, and suppliers.
Acquisition Target Brand Audits | M&A Communications Consulting | Corporate Naming | Brand Architecture Strategy
☛ BRAND NAME DEVELOPMENT
For organizations looking to change their corporate name or launch a new brand – usually as a result of a new product or service offering, changing competitive landscape, or a merger or acquisition.
We start with defining the objectives of the new brand name. We then lead the company down a systematic path of decision making – weighing all angles to determine the characteristics of the new brand, ideating potential new brand names, and working with strategic partners, bring it to life in the form of a new logo design. We also conduct preliminary trademark and url searches to identify brand names with the highest potential to trademark. We then recommend trademark attorneys to complete the process.
Corporate Name Ideation & Evaluation | Corporate Name Change Strategy
Areas of Expertise
- Customer Experience
- Containers & Packaging
- IT Services
- Professional Services
"I had never hired a brand and marketing consultant to help us with our messaging, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was honestly a little nervous because I wanted to make sure that it was a worthwhile investment and not totally sure how because branding and marketing can feel elusive to me. We received such amazing insight about our customers' needs, how we present our business, and how to move forward with more focus. The whole team started to move ahead with some of the learnings immediately in our emails to customers, copy on our website, and printed materials. And many of us keep her presentation on our desks! One of the big takeaways was how we speak to our customers, we realized that we weren't addressing their needs as much as we could. She made our brand feel more tangible and our marketing efforts more concrete and focused. I look forward to working with her on an ongoing basis!"
- Christen Carter, Founder and President, Busy Beaver Button Co. | https://www.busybeaver.net/
"Working with Sue/Brand Strong Marketing has been essential to the growth and transition of the business. In the three years we’ve worked together, she has helped to focus our internal and external brand message, consistency of marketing efforts, and most recently the planning involved in a brand shift. Her knowledge, skill and professionalism always amaze me. Her ability to keep me focused on both plans for the future strategy and execution of current initiatives has been instrumental to our organization’s success thus far."
— Cara Lindell, Founder & CEO, The Bridging® Institute | https://thebridginginstitute.com/
The key to business growth relies on an alignment and collaboration between your marketing and sales. Even though they are two equally essential but distinct functions, in today’s environment their roles overlap. Why? Because the buying process has changed...
Marketing Vs. Sales: What’s The Difference?
The key to business growth relies on an alignment and collaboration between your marketing and sales. Even though they are two equally essential but distinct functions, in today’s environment their roles overlap. Why? Because the buying process has changed so dramatically over the past 10 years so that the lines between the two functions are now blurred.
If your marketing strategies, messages, and tactics don’t align with what your sales people are saying when they talk with customers and prospects, you will be creating confusion, weakening your brand, and most likely losing the sale. Bummer!
No matter your size or industry, the key to serious growth is aligning your sales and marketing functions. So, to help you do that, let’s take a look at the role each function plays in your business and how they intertwine, support, and complement each other more important than ever.
Let’s start by defining the two. A simple but high-level explanation of marketing vs. sales:
Marketing gets you a conversation while sales close the deal.
But there’s more to it.
As mentioned above, marketing’s role is to create a conversation. What does this mean? If there is a person looking for a product or a solution to a problem, and there is someone who has the right product or the solution to that problem, marketing gets them together. It alerts the buyer or searcher that there is a potential solution to their problem and lets the seller know that someone is interested in their solution. It creates the opportunity for a mutually beneficial conversation to happen.
Being a marketer, I’m going to tell you that marketing rocks for a number of reasons.
• It grabs the attention of your audience;
• It creates leads;
• It gets prospects to find you instead of you having to find them;
• It engages with your fans;
• It separates you from your competitors;
• It educates your customers and prospects about how you can help them;
• It shares your brand story, building trust in your business based on the promise of the unique value you will deliver; and
• It builds loyalty so you can charge a price premium, run into less competitive threats, and enjoy recurring revenue or increased profitability.
Cool, huh? Good marketing should grab a prospects attention, educate them on your solution, and build enough trust that he or she will call and want to do business with you. Your job is to then repeat that process again and again.
Marketing is important in order to engage your audience, but what happens once you have their attention and have intrigued them enough that they want to talk with someone at your company? That is when the sales process comes into play.
You answer final questions, overcome objections, close the deal, serve the customer, and make your money. Like marketing, sales also serves to connect a person to your business. Sales completes the process of why someone should buy from you and has the opportunity to create a personal relationship with the customers, leading you to being able to make the current sale but more importantly, future sales as well.
Like marketing, sales activity can cover a wide range of tasks. Taking a customer through the sales journey can include all, or some, of the following actions whether you are selling a product or a service.
• Understand what the client is looking to accomplish or the challenge they are trying to solve.
• Once you understand your customer’s needs and how your solution could provide them value, create a proposal or quote.
• But wait, you’re not done yet! After you provide your quote, you may need to work with your customer to overcome their objections.
• Most importantly, follow up with your new customer to make sure they had a great experience.
• Then at a designated time in the future, see if there is an opportunity for repeat sales or an upsell.
As I said, I think marketing rocks, but as a small business owner I also wear the sales hat. I’ve learned that sales rocks, too! What I love most about sales is building and maintaining those important customers relationships.
⭐️ Marketing vs. Sales or Marketing & Sales
After looking at the definition and different responsibilities in the sales and marketing process, you should have a better understanding of the objective of each function.
But seeing as how they have such a symbiotic relationship, is Marketing versus Sales the appropriate terminology? Probably not. These two activities work hand in hand, so every conversation you have about growing your business and attracting customers should really include Marketing AND Sales activities. You can’t draw a line and say “Well, I’m just working on marketing today so I don’t need to think about anything in the sales process.”
If you need help aligning your sales and marketing messages or creating a strategy to get more leads and conversations, let’s set up a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation. Give me a call at 847-963-1805 or shoot me an email at email@example.com. In the meantime, Brand Strong!
Want to build a stronger brand? Stand out from the competition? Craft irresistible messages that resonate deeply with your ideal customers? One of the most important steps to take to make that happen is to identify what your brand is. You need to know...
Important Questions to Ask to Identify your Brand
Want to build a stronger brand? Stand out from the competition? Craft irresistible messages that resonate deeply with your ideal customers?
One of the most important steps to take to make that happen is to identify what your brand is.
You need to know what makes your business unique and why your customers value what you offer. So that your brand messages are clear, unique, and consistent in order to leave a strong impression. The kind of impression that helps people remember you when it’s time to buy and trust that you are the one who can help them.
How do you figure out what your brand is? Ask your customers.
With the valuable information you’ll collect, you can develop stronger brand messages that resonate with your customers or prospects. Messages that clearly explain the value you offer them and why that is unique. Messages that grab their attention in a cluttered marketplace and make your marketing easier and more effective.
We’re going to help you figure this out because we want you to Brand Strong and grow. Let’s start.
Your customers have formed a perception of your brand based on what you have told them. And then it is reinforced by their experience working with you or using your product. Every touch point you have with that customer – presentations, social media posts, emails, sales pitch, delivering the product or service, and even billing them – is an opportunity to strengthen or weaken your brand.
So, it’s important to find out what they think because if they think you stand for A and you think you stand for B, you have a brand disconnect. Your messages will confuse your customer rather than attract them. It needs to be fixed.
Your customers buy from you because you offer them something of value. So, what do they value? Why do they continue to work with you? Who do they see as your competition?
Wouldn’t it be helpful to know this? Yes! So, let’s interview your customers to gather this important data.
Which customers should you interview?
You want to identify the customers who really understand your brand and value your product or service. In other words, your best customers. Build off of their perception of your brand because you want to find more people just like them. You can interview one or two customers who maybe aren’t your best to find out why that’s the case, but you don’t want to focus on what you don’t do well. There’s probably a reason for that or you would have fixed it. Instead, focus on what you can do really well, so that you can replicate it more often and target the type of customer who values it.
What should you ask?
To get you started, we’ve put together a list of 10 questions that should help you unearth the value you provide and identify your brand. However, you know your business and industry better than we do, so if you want to swap out a question or add a few more questions specific to a service or product you provide, have at it!
Don’t be afraid to be creative with your questions. Sometimes the more surprising the question, the better the information collected.
Believe it or not, after 20 years of helping companies identify their brand, the question that gives us the best answers to identify a brand is – “If you had to describe our company in three words, which would you choose?” It seems easy and sort of silly, but it stumps people, makes them really think, and you get at the true nature of what they value with this one question.
Also, you want the emotions and feelings the person has about your company, so if they are giving you one word answers to questions, keep asking, “Why?” until you get the information you need.
Here are the 10 Questions You Need to Ask Your Customers to Identify Your Brand
1. In your words, what does our company do?
2. What value do we offer you? (or What problem do we solve for you?)
3. Can you get that value from anyone else?
4. What is the one thing we do that you can’t get anywhere else?
5. Who do you think is our ideal customer?
6. If you had to describe our company in three words, which would you choose?
7. What do you feel is our biggest asset?
8. What did we say that made you want to work with us in the first place?
9. Would you refer us to another firm? Why or why not?
10. Who do you think is our biggest competitor? How are we different from them?
⭐️ BRAND STRONG TIP: If you can, conduct some of these interviews using Zoom or Google Meet. Why? Because you can record it and if your interviewee says something great about you, you can ask them if you can use that portion of the video as a testimonial on your site, blog, or social media accounts.
To have a strong brand, you need to be strong enough to ask questions and hear the answers. So, on your mark. Get set. Go line up those interviews!
⭐️ For more help on this process and what to do with the data once you’ve collected it, grab a copy of my ebook “10 Questions to Ask Your Customers to Identify Your Unique Brand.”
If you need help, don’t have time, or want an objective, third party to interview your customers, give me a call at 847-963-1805 or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help you identify your brand so you can accelerate your growth.
With low unemployment, industries facing talent shortages, and changing employee expectations, it has become harder to engage talented professionals for new job opportunities. That’s why it’s so critical for employers stand out from the competition when...
Five Ways to Use Your Brand to Attract & Retain More Talent
With low unemployment, industries facing talent shortages, and changing employee expectations, it has become harder to engage talented professionals for new job opportunities. That’s why it’s so critical for employers stand out from the competition when it comes to attracting top talent. How do you do that?
Use your brand! It’s not just for customer acquisition. It’s equally as important for recruiting.
Recruitment is an ongoing process that doesn’t necessarily begin (or end) with an online job posting. Becoming known as a business where employees want to work takes time and a strategic approach.
If your industry is facing a talent shortage or you are having a hard time attracting top talent to your firm, read on. Here are some successful recruiting and retention strategies to give you an edge in the talent wars.
Here are 5 Key Ways to Attract More Talent.
⭐️ LEAD WITH THE BRAND – It all starts with knowing who you are, what you stand for, and what unique value you deliver – to customers and employees. Having a reputable employer brand is a must to help recruit better candidates, reduce hiring and marketing costs, and improve productivity. You need to be able to clearly answer “Why Someone Should Work Here.” People don’t want to work at a firm that has a bad reputation or even no reputation. You should also have a clear understanding of your core values and culture so you can immediately tell if a potential recruit will fit in to the company and help you make your brand promise stronger.
⭐️ ALWAYS BE RECRUITING – The best time to recruit is now. Especially when you don’t need someone. Always be networking, speaking at industry events, and posting on social media about your company so that people start coming to you looking for opportunities. It’s faster, easier, and less costly to reach out to someone who has shown interest, than starting the process from scratch.
⭐️ SPEND TIME TO CREATE & COMMUNICATE CAREER PATH – The best talent is looking to build a career. To sell them on your company, you need to show them a picture of their future with you. How far can they go? Is the path to succeed clearly outlined? How will you support them? The most important thing you can do to attract talent is have clear job descriptions, expectations, and a career path to reach their goals. Don’t forget the onboarding experience. The more you invest in the first few months, the faster that person will contribute and the more engaged they will feel. It can make or break your employer brand quickly.
⭐️ YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO IT ALONE. Recruiting is time consuming, taking the owner or manager away from the business. Get help. First, get some expert help from recruiters and employees. Don’t discount the value of working with a recruiter, especially when hiring for really specialized skills or higher positions. Let them provide you with knowledge, an unbiased opinion, and the chance to save you time. Second, you won’t find better ambassadors for your company than your own employees. Ask them to help you network, be present at industry gatherings, and create videos to share their experience. Reward them for their recruiting efforts. They will know best who will fit into the culture.
share your brand story with your employees blog post photo
⭐️ UNIQUE COMPENSATION BENEFITS – Here’s where you can get creative! Unique compensation benefits can help you stand out from competitors and larger firms. Find out what motivates your best employees. From flex time, working from home, or extra paid vacation days; to appreciation or rewards programs; to continuous training opportunities; to fun perks like food, contest, social gatherings; or company wide days of service, you can offer benefits that make you stand out and attract the right employees who will fit in and thrive. Then communicate these perks as part of your employer brand. Share it on social media, on your Careers page on your website, and internally with your employees through your employee referral programs.
Having a strong brand can be a huge competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent. If you need help defining what your employer brand is and how to share it where potential recruits will see it, give us a call at 847-963-1805.