Building your Small Business Brand — Be Emotional!

by Connie Steele on December 14, 2010


How do you start to differentiate your small business brand vs. your competition?  Think about what emotional end benefits your company can/does deliver.

Your customers (or potential customers) now have more choices than ever and differences between the services that you and your competition may be less and less significant. This could ultimately result in a price war which isn’t where you want to go.

One of the best ways to avoid this scenario is to develop a lasting connection with your customers on an emotional level. When customers feel an emotional pull toward your company, they are less likely to spend time evaluating their options and more likely to complete the sale.

Most companies typically communicate “functional benefits” to get customers to engage or transact with them.  Functional benefits are ones that a customer directly associates with a feature/service that your business delivers such as “best quality”, “lowest price”, “greatest selection.”  While these statements are compelling they may not truly differentiate you because they are aspects that can be fulfilled by other providers as well.  Where functional benefits aren’t easily identifiable or differentiated, many times marketers rely on ‘emotional benefits’.  Think of an emotional benefit this way… “When I buy or use this brand, I feel ___.”

So you may be thinking how does this translate into someone taking action?  Well there is research that shows reasons (or in this case the “functional benefits”) and emotions drive different behavior. Reason generates conclusions but not necessarily actions, while emotions more frequently lead to actions. While you can educate customers on the features and services you have, there isn’t any emotional involvement tied to it which can be the one factor that helps garner the sale.

Here’s an example that will make my point more real.

Consider the Starbucks brand. Its functional benefit is caffeinated refreshment; its emotional benefit is indulgence.  When you enter into a Starbucks establishment, you see that the products and experience they sell is so much more than just selling coffee.  They pay off this emotional benefit in every facet of their experience. You’re more likely to want to buy more than just coffee and experience the other treats they have to offer.  And this is all with a smile from your friendly and knowledgeable barista.

What if I don’t know what my emotional benefits should be?

Well you can always do some market research with your target audience. And keep in mind research doesn’t have to be sophisticated.  The point is understanding your end customer with respect to what motivates them to come to your business?  What is it about your business that draws them in? Based on these conversations, you’re bound to get some insightful learnings that will lead you to defining what those emotional end benefits are.  Then you can integrate them into your messaging, positioning and even consider how your selling and service practices can deliver on this benefit.

Image by Flickr User JoeShlabotnik (Creative Commons)

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    • Michelle Hunt

      We differentiate our company brand through the unique services we provide, our unrivalled expertise and experience and also the additional functionality we can bring to companies business management software.

      It's the additional benefits that we can supply that distinguish us from other potential business software partners. Our tagline, Be a better business, is part our own mission statement in terms of the constant goal internally, as well as it being our mission to assist our clients in making their business run better.


    • Grateful

      We differentiate our company brand through the unique culture we promote and attract. We turn down clients on the regular. We are focused on providing our expertise and talents to projects we feel passionate about, and sometimes those projects are not the most popular. And that is exactly why we do it. There are a lot of companies that compete for the same business. We go for the demographics everyone else is ignoring, because of one form of ignorance or another.

    • http://www.imaginepub.com James E. Meyers

      A couple of years ago we asked our customers why they began and continue working with us. The answer surprised us. They said it was because of our passion for what they do, for what their goals are and for what we bring to the relationship every day. Obviously, we need to provide high quality deliverables as well but it's the “emotional” passion that's made us successful!

    • Marie Bushnell

      In selling your product or service, one important factor was to address a “need” to that customer. Advertising with a post card, what key words are going make that customer call you instead of another florist?
      Well everyone at some point needs flowers or a fruit/gourmet basket sent so how do you work on “emotion” selling flowers/fruit/gourmet?

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    • Flowerstlc

      I”m a florist also and I let my customers know that all products that go into my baskets are hand picked by me, like I was shopping for my own family. Same with my flowers, I personally select the flowers that I sell, everything that leaves my shop leaves with my seal of approval. My TLC stamped on it.

    • buy coffee

      Very nice information shared by you. I was just searching this type of information and luckily I got it from your blog. I like your blog also. Keep it up.