Branding Your Company — Without Big Money

Make a name for your plumbing business with a low-cost microbranding approach.

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If you’ve ever taken a marketing class or attended a marketing seminar, the speakers always talk about branding. They say: “You have to have a brand”; “You need to brand yourself”; “Branding is your key to success.”

But what they don’t tell you is how much it costs to actually create a recognizable brand. For small businesses, traditional branding is simply too expensive. Experts say that it takes repeated exposure to your brand over a long period of time for someone to actually remember it. What small business has the money to pay for that type of advertising? Very few. So traditional branding is out of the question for most small businesses.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t brand your small company.

Try microbranding

I’d like to introduce you to a concept that I call “microbranding.” Microbranding is the art and science of branding your business to a specific group of people so you are always on the top of their mind. For instance, let’s say you want to own the sewer and drain maintenance market in your service area. You’ve determined that real estate management companies and commercial property owners are your best target market. So you do some research and find the top 100 property owners where you live.

Now you have a targeted group of people to whom you can microbrand your company and your product or service. So you devise a multistep marketing program to reach out and get in front of those 100 decision-makers. And you also devise a plan to stay in touch after you reach out to those people in case they want to do business with you.

That’s microbranding, and any small business can do it.

The microbranding plan

OK, so here’s a sample of what I’m talking about. Using the commercial property example, here’s what I would do:

Step 1: Create a “value proposition” by monetizing the savings that a preventive maintenance contract can achieve.

Step 2: Create a two-page special report about the proposition and call it, “Why Waiting for Plumbing Problems is Costing You Big Money (and How Preventive Maintenance Can Put That Cash Back in Your Pocket).”

Step 3: Create a few letters, cards and online videos, and collect any newspaper clippings, magazine articles and positive news stories I can find about my service.

Step 4: Create an irresistible offer for a free inspection and assessment. Note: Now that I have my value proposition, marketing materials and my irresistible offer in place, it’s time to start reaching out to those 100 decision-makers.

Step 5: Call the decision-makers, one by one, introduce myself, and ask them if I can send them a special report.

Step 6: For those I simply cannot get ahold of, I would email them to ask if I could send them my special report.

Step 7: Send them cards and letters offering my special report. Basically, I would do everything I could to get the special report in their hands as a first step.

Step 8: Once they received the special report, I would start following up with them religiously by phone, email and direct mail asking for an appointment to do an inspection and assessment.

Step 9: After I have talked to them, sent them the report and followed up with them, I would put them on a monthly “testimonial card” campaign. A testimonial card is a greeting card or postcard with the photo of a loyal customer and a paragraph about how they have benefited from your product or service in their own words. The card also repeats your inspection and assessment offer.

Step 10: Continue to follow up with the decision-makers via email, phone and cards. You never know when they will have a change of heart or circumstances and need your service. As you know, drains will back up when you least expect.

About the Author
David Frey is a small-business marketing consultant and author of The Small Business Marketing Bible. He can be reached at


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