Creating a Brand Promise for Your Local Business

Leading up to the end of 2016, RTOWN was very hard at work refining and solidifying our Brand Promise. This work was done in addition to merging with LocalSphere – a local competitor of ours – which resulted in our headcount almost doubling and our revenues doing the same. We also moved into our new office space in Vancouver. When you’re working with A-players, everything moves faster and our businesses grow better.

I’m very happy to announce RTOWN’s Brand Promise (video below).

Since this is top of mind, I wanted to summarize some thoughts on how our customers can think about doing the same thing for their business. We expect this to help RTOWN grow and, indeed, we’re already seeing the results in our sales in January from it.

In our experience, businesses that get super clear on the promises they make to their customers have a much better chance of not only keeping those promises but also a better chance at keeping their customers coming back to have those promises delivered every time.

Remember, every customer visit to your store (online or offline) has the chance to become a repeat customer. It’s all about looking at your customers from the point of view of their lifetime value to you.

When promises are kept, trust is built or maintained. When they’re not, it’s lost. Sometimes forever.

Words, therefore, matter. But actions matter more. An ounce of the latter is worth a pound of the former.

But it does start with words and then you HAVE TO go to work tooling up your business to deliver on your promise every time.

As business owners, we have many people involved in our customer’s experience. We cannot touch all of them ourselves. So aligning everyone on our teams around the promises we make as organizations becomes essential so everyone in our company knows what’s going to be expected by our shared customers.

This is where a Brand Promise comes in to help your business align and grow.

Is a Brand Promise for My Business?

In the (almost) 4 years RTOWN has been serving local businesses, I’ve noticed that many of our customers are falling short on making a compelling brand promise (particularly one that has, what we’ll call “teeth”) that sets them apart from their competitors.

But, you say, “no one is like us.” “We’re a unique and beautiful snowflake.” To start, you’re probably not at the moment. There are monopolies that exist, yes, just read Peter Thiel’s Zero to One (a book I highly recommend), but for the most part, we ALL have competitors today. And they’re here to make us better.

Here’s one competitor many local businesses share: Walmart.

Their Brand Promise is: “Save money.”

Others include:

Apple: “Think different.”

Marriott: “Quiet Luxury. Crafted Experience. Intuitive service.”

But, you say, “Luke, I’m a smaller business. My business deals in real estate or food or home services or I have recruitment business. My business isn’t like these bigger companies.”

To that I say to each of these business owners (with examples from the top of my head):

Realtor Business Brand Promise: “Your house sold in 30 days or we waive ½ of our commissions.”

Restauranteur competing for lunch rush business Brand Promise: “Delicious meal in under 45 minutes for less than $10.”

Plumbing business Brand Promise: “Unclogged in 45 minutes from the time you place your call.”

Recruitment business Brand Promise: “We will place your candidate in 45 days or we’ll waive our finder’s fee.”

Would these be compelling reasons for some of your potential customers to buy from you? If you delivered on this every time, would they tell their friends about you? If they did, what would that mean for your business?

Think about FedEx and their explosive growth by being really clear on getting packages anywhere overnight and what that did for their core customer’s needs and their business as a result.

Your aspirations may not be as big, and that’s okay, but we can all do things even on a local level to help differentiate us from those selling similar products or services.

So you see; this is for every type of business. Big or small, global or local.

Making a Compelling Brand Promise

At the root of every successful business is trust. Restauranteurs feeding people in their community must make sure their food is fresh. Your local trade professional absolutely must be skilled at their trade for anyone to trust them with their home or to work on their business facilities. Salons HAVE to be an ace at making us look or feel great every time we leave their shops.

But do they all? How do they measure that? And, most importantly, what price do they pay if they don’t deliver on that promise?

Here’s where a unique brand promise comes in and can help set you apart from others in your industry.

Here’s a quick checklist toward obtaining your Brand Promise:

  1. Crystal clear on who your customer is (delivering a promise starts with who you’re promising to) – get into the demographic and psychographic traits and name your core customer
  2. Create a simple, memorable statement that defines your brand promise
  3. Tool up your operations to deliver on this promise every time.
  4. Educate ALL of your staff to align to this promise. (This is THE critical step to ensure your promise is kept. It’s how you will operationally change things to make sure it’s delivered every single time a customer interacts with you)
  5. Decentralize decision making so the team can deliver it
  6. Measure it (are you delivering the promise every time?)
  7. Make it meaningful (i.e., it should hurt you when the promise is broken)

Giving your Brand Promise Teeth

What Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great” calls the Catalytic Mechanism, will be the piece that sets your brand apart from your competitors and propel your growth.

What is it?

In a nutshell, it’s the pain your company will suffer when you break your promise. When you feel pain, it means you’ve stayed within the integrity of your promise. If you made a promise, broke it and didn’t experience any downside – well, this is the world where sociopaths exist. I’ve met them along my journey. If anyone’s worthy of their own island, it’s these folks.

When a business guarantees something and pays the financial price for not delivering it, then it matters. And, importantly, will help business owners weed out the people who are not aligned to delivering a trusted experience to your customers. Yes, your Brand Promise can also help you uncover who, on your team, is an A player, B player or C player. Tune into my Webinar on these topics for further thoughts on defining those and dealing with C players.

Give your Brand Promise teeth is about taking the risk away from your customer in exchange for their hard earned dollars. And when you keep your promises, they’ll come back with more of those dollars every time.

Thinking back to RTOWN’s for a moment:

We will deliver or you don’t pay

The investment we made clearly did not go into the video production you see above. Our money went to getting the entire operation clear (from sales personnel to delivery personnel to finance personnel) on what we deliver and what we’ll do if we don’t. In the end, it’s all about people at RTOWN (and in every business).

With ours in mind, I’d love your thoughts. Please provide feedback in the comments below or, as always, I welcome all customers to get in touch with me anytime to talk shop. Email me at luke@rtown.ca. I’d be delighted to help you with your business anytime. Thanks for reading.

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