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As a business owner, the brand you present to your customers, vendors and competition is essential. Your brand is the outward reflection of who you are, what you do, and why it’s important. Do you know what your brand is? Can you explain your unique story that separates you from your competition? Does it inform your patrons of who you are? Do you even know?
Establishing a brand is as important as the service you provide or widget you produce. In this age of commerce, your customers are just as interested in your unique story as your product or service. It’s up to you to tell them exactly what your brand represents. In our digital age, your brand is beyond your logo or your tagline. It represents the entirety of how your business connects with your customer and separates you from your competition.
Global hypercompetition is the standard in business today. It doesn’t matter if you live in urban or rural America (as we do at Scratchtown Brewing Company), you are competing with businesses from around the world instantaneously.
See Scratchtown's Brewing Process: All photos courtesy of Scratchtown Brewing Company
Have you ever heard of “The World is Flat” by Thomas Freidman? In his book, Freidman explains that the digital connectivity of our world has led to a flattening effect. Ord, Nebraska is competing with Chicago, and Chicago is competing with Brussels, and Brussels is competing with Moscow.
While Freidman’s idea of a flat world is somewhat simplistic, he did recognize that businesses compete across the globe for the same finite resource: customers. The digital age has brought global business to the fingertips of customers and their choices are better than ever. Therefore, your business must be able to connect better than ever.
As a business owner, it’s essential today to build that compelling story and to engage your customers in a way that builds brand awareness and advocacy for your business. If done right, your customers will sell for you!
Don’t believe me? Consider this: Scratchtown Brewing Company was thought by many to be a fool’s errand. We built the smallest production brewery in the smallest town [Ord] that has a brewery in Nebraska, in the least populated region of Nebraska – the Sandhills. But that’s a huge part of our story! We realized that those “hindrances” were, in fact, unique story-selling points we could build upon. Throw in a great selection of beer and the best water on the planet (Ogallala Aquifer straight from the Sandhills) and bingo– we had immediate customer engagement.
Our goal was to build a viable business in a community that mattered to us, in a place that was important, even though most people hadn’t heard of it. We wanted to prove that quality beer could come from a small town. The way we told our story connected with our customers. And, our absolute uniqueness created the brand awareness that is driving incredible business growth.
In the end, we’re in business to make money. We realized that as long as we produced great beer that nobody knew about, we wouldn’t make any money. We had to connect with customers in a compelling way that created revenue.
Nearly a year after opening, we couldn’t be happier. The results of our efforts? We’re almost 100 percent above both our production and sales goals. While we know this kind of growth isn’t sustainable, we do know that our customers are out selling for us in a meaningful way because they are engaged and believe in our brand.
If you’re asking yourself, “Sure, Caleb, how do I do this?” then I invite you to check us out online and in print. Our message and brand is consistent across our digital and hardcopy campaigns. See how we’re doing it and ask yourself how you can build a unique brand that will engage your customers and ultimately one that will make you more money.
Caleb is passionate about rural Nebraska and craft beer. with a Bachelors of Arts from UNL, he is the former Executive Director of the Valley County Economic Development and Ord Area Chamber of Commerce.
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