Each of us has a unique personality. Looking at your employees, even though two individuals may have the same skills, experience and job title, their personalities are probably quite different. When it comes to your business, you may have competitors with the same services and similar skills and experience. But your brand is what makes your company different.
Your company’s brand is effectively its personality. What is your promise to the customer? What separates you from all the other contractors in your market?
When looking at a business’ brand, there are several different elements, such as how they deliver goods and services and the particular value they provide their customers. This is not an exhaustive list of all elements to consider, but it demonstrates that a brand is far more than a logo or truck color. Your brand is who you are, how your customers and employees see you and how you deliver your services.
Today’s consumers have many choices for providers of the same services. How do you stand out in a market where competition is fierce? Of course, an obvious way is to be the cheapest provider of a good or service. However, this is rarely a sustainable model for growth. Regardless of what you sell, there is always someone willing to sell it for less.
A strong brand develops advocates
By building a strong brand, you can compete on value instead of on price. Consumers will seek out your company because you are known as a credible, reputable business that can fulfill their needs. Good service generates repeat customers, but a strong brand develops advocates. Your brand becomes what your customers think and say about your company after the work is done.
So how do you build a brand that sets you apart from all the other electrical contractors in your market? The first step is defining who you are. You need to be more specific than “I’m an electrical contractor.” What makes your company stand out from all the others competing for the same work? What is your unique value proposition, or the thing you do better than everyone else?
If you are struggling with defining who you are, I suggest starting with a SWOT analysis—your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This isn’t a quick, fill-in-the-blanks exercise. It is a look-in-the-mirror, honest assessment of the company. For a smaller contractor, the owner may be the one completing the analysis, but for a larger company, the leadership team may work together to complete the analysis to encompass multiple perspectives. Also consider the feedback and input of your field employees and other customer-facing staff.
The SWOT analysis is a relatively straightforward look at the internal, external, current and future factors affecting the company’s success. First, consider your company’s strengths. What separates you from your competition? When going head-to-head with another contractor, what factors tip the scales in your favor?
Now evaluate your weaknesses, which could include resources you’re lacking, such as the right tools and equipment, bonding capacity, cash, people, etc. What are the areas where you are behind your competition?
Next, think about opportunities. Look at factors in the industry or market where you compete. How can you leverage your strengths or use trainings to take advantage of new trends or changes in the marketplace?
Finally there are threats: the factors that could negatively impact your business. These could include gains your competition is making, new regulations, increases in material costs, supply chain challenges and labor shortages.
The SWOT analysis should give you a clearer picture of your company and what makes it special.
Who is your audience?
The next step is to define who is in the market for the solutions you provide. I have found it is easier to sell to someone who is buying than trying to find someone to buy what we are selling.
Look at your SWOT analysis and consider how you would complete this statement: “We solve _____ (problem) for _____ (customer).” When you think of your company as a solutions provider for a specific customer, you have taken the first step to sell on value rather than price.
The more consistent your brand is represented across all aspects of your business, the more unified, credible and reputable your company becomes. Don’t keep your brand a secret; be sure everyone in the company knows what it is, shares it and how they play a role in the value you provide. Good customer service keeps customers, but a strong brand turns one-time clients into loyal patrons and promoters of your company.