I’ve been thinking a lot about Internet real estate and branding, and whether they are important undertakings of solo business. I know there are a lot of small businesses that don’t think much about branding … feeling like it is the territory of big business only … that the little guy can’t afford to spend money or time on an activity that is not going to give an immediate financial return.
I’ve been asking myself questions like:
– Is it worth the effort and expense for a small business owner to try to establish a brand of some kind for his business?
– In the Internet world of big corporations, net real estate has increasing value. But does that same concept apply to small businesses as well?
– Is there a way for a solo business owner to add value to his property beyond the value of the information he publishes at his web site?
– Do “brands” really matter that much when your business is deeply niched and only catering to a very limited pool of prospects? Afterall, you don’t really need to become a household name when your mission is limited to serving a very small targeted group of people.
All these questions strike at the heart of one larger overriding question: Can the small time operator somehow leverage his own time and intelligence to provide tangible and increasing value to his business beyond the value of the information and services he sells at his web site?
Said still another way, if the operator were to strip his products and services from his business, how much value would be left?
- Is there value in the small business domain name?
- Is there value in the customers that are loyal to the small business web site?
- Is there any value to the partnerships and cooperative ventures that the solo owner may have jointly set up with other business owners?
- Is there value in the links back to the small business web site that have been created over time?
- Is there value in search engine and directory listings that point back to the small business real estate?
- If there is value and a way to monetize that value, then it would seem that the effort to brand a small business may indeed be worthwhile if the cost to brand doesn’t exceed its value.
The trouble with branding anything is that the process normally takes a long time and the cost of repetitive branding strategies is prohibitive to any business owner that is on a tight budget.
There’s also another downside to branding. It’s so difficult to measure in terms of what the brand means to the value of the business.
What is it really worth? How do you measure that worth in dollars?
Large corporations can and do spend millions on branding alone.
I suppose company executives have ways of justifying that expense as contributing to the overall sales of the branded products. But is that same treatment appropriate for a tiny business, with maybe a solo operator and no employees?
According to some lists, Coca-Cola is the number one brand in the world.
Why is that so?
Is it an unusually great product?
I don’t drink Coke, don’t like the taste, and I believe it can actually be a harmful substance to human health if you drink a lot of it.
I can think of lots of reasons why Coca-Cola, as a product, could be taken off the market and most of us would be better off.
I have no personal grudge against Coke and could say the same thing for many, many other products and services that are purchased every day that have no real intrinsic value.
What good are porn services, “hate” sites, and products that destroy our health?
None of these things have real value, except for the income they give their owners, which is sometimes very substantial.
Coke is the number one brand because of a carefully crafted and effective marketing strategy they have employed over many decades of time.
The minds at Coke and their ad agency (or maybe that is done in-house?)have come up with the campaigns and ideas that have repeatedly placed that brand in front of world consumers.
Everybody knows what “Coke” is and apparently lots of folks spend a lot of money on the product.
To Coca-Cola, the cost of branding must be worth it.
The question remains, to a small-time business person, is branding a worthwhile activity?
I believe branding can be done in a small business … but differently than a large corporation would do it. In fact, everything you do in your business should include your branding. Every product, every email, every communication, everything can be branded.
We’ll be talking more about small business branding because it can be done and it is important.
To your online business success!