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Friday, December 28, 2007

Branding 101

In Canada, Tim Hortons has fine-tuned its brand, successfully. You can do the same for your business, at little or no cost.

If you want a fairly priced soft drink, or healthy food, you know the last place to go is a professional baseball or hockey game. Part of this is cultural; part of it (depending on location) are monopolistic rules within the sports facility. So what if you break the rules, constructively?

You serve healthy food at a baseball game -- or, in Canada, you serve good coffee at regular retail (not 'gouge') prices.

Tim Hortons does the latter at Ottawa Senators games. They offer the only fairly priced concession in the building. Does that help their brand? Absolutely. (And can they make money at their concession? I expect so, though they don't show me their books.)

So, how much does it cost to ensure your site is clean and tidy at the end of each shift? Or, if you are a residential contractor, to leave a small gift of thanks at the end of a job? For that matter, how much does it cost to simply return your phone calls or email messages promptly? Or to pay for a simple, not overly forced, uniform or tidy shirt or T-Shirt for your crew?

More impressively, how much does it cost to link your brand with one that communicates fair value and service? In Canada, Tim Hortons coffee coupons or gift cards are truly inexpensive and a gift of one of these won't be considered an unethical 'bribe' even to the stickiest purchasing authorities.

So, here is some simple free advice. If you are advertising in the Yellow Pages, consider reducing the size of your ad and put the money you save into the simple things to make your client relationships more rewarding and more respectful. If you are not, consider the observation that the suggestions in this posting require virtually no money; just a little thinking.

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